Take your teaching online
Take your teaching online

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3.1 Hints and tips

From our experiences as practitioners and researchers in educational technology, we think the following guidance could also be useful when embarking on or managing change:

  • Start small and start now.
    • The reason for this is that over time you may start to overthink your planned change, the objectives may become lost in potential issues or you may start to vacillate between various potential changes as to which one to focus on first. Pick something small that you can pilot and see the results from, plan it, and do it!
  • Plan.
    • Set out all of the details. What new online teaching technique will you try? With which group of learners? Covering which topic? By which date must you be ready? What will be your fallback plan to ensure the learning objectives are met if your trial fails to deliver? How will you evaluate the successes and failures of your attempt? (See next week’s materials for further coverage of evaluation). As time goes by and you gain confidence in trying new teaching ideas online, you can be more flexible and formulate less rigid plans, but at the start of your journey, planning will make you feel more secure in your actions.
  • Get permission.
    • If you work for an education provider, you may need to get approval for your proposed change. Take time to prepare, give the approver all the information they may need, explain the benefits as well as the risks, and show that you have thought long and hard about the change and its potential benefits for you and your learners. If permission is not granted, demand feedback, and adjust your proposal before seeking approval again.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist.
    • With any changes to your teaching, adjustments will need to be made. Observe what works and what doesn’t work, modify, and try again.
  • Reflect honestly.
    • Reflect on what you've learned, reflect after further reading, reflect after discussing it with students or colleagues, then reflect after giving it a try. This will be covered further in next week’s materials.
  • Collaborate.
    • Share your initial attempt, and your reflections upon it, with colleagues or networks. They may spot additional adjustments that you can make, and will be better placed to identify objectively the positives in a change that you feel did not go well.
  • Listen to your learners.
    • Ask the learners for their impressions of what you tried. Often they will see the positives of ‘trying something different’ even if it didn’t go as you'd hoped.
  • Learn from failures.
    • Some changes work, some don’t. Sometimes the technology fails, sometimes the pedagogy is not a good fit, sometimes external factors have an influence. But just because something goes wrong, don’t lose your enthusiasm and curiosity in online teaching. Instead, think about what you have learnt and how that will make your next steps better.
  • Celebrate success.
    • It may be a small change, but if it works, allow yourself to enjoy the success. Share your story with colleagues and your networks. Build upon your success to try something else or to repeat the first change in a different context.

If you are still struggling to pin down exactly what actions to take to begin your online teaching journey, this blog post [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] by Mooney et al. (2012) might offer some useful suggestions, as might this article by Sharrar and Bigatel (2014).

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