Resources

Tips for Online Teaching

By Denise Rizzolo, PhD, PA-CMarch 24, 2020

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How to make a nearly seamless transition to a virtual classroom.

As the spread of the coronavirus forces more colleges and universities to close, alternative methods of teaching will be necessary. One alternate method of teaching, which is already widely used, is the online platform. But moving entire courses, not to mention curriculums, online can be a bit daunting — especially for those who are new to it. So here are a few tips to help pave the way.

  1. There is no need to recreate the material. Online teaching allows you to take the material you already have and become more creative with it.
  2. Set expectations up front. Be clear about netiquette (online etiquette), the number of times a student should log in, and, if applicable, the number of discussion board posts students should comment on. Express to students the importance of academic integrity, and that individual work should be done independently.
  3. The key to online learning is having stop and end dates. It is tempting to put all the information up at once, but that will also lead to students rushing through the material, just to get it done.
  4. Give a variety of assignments. A quiz is a great assessment, but it should not be the only assessment. Try to have students complete worksheets, discussion boards, blogs, and short outlines of the material — or even have students develop their own test questions related to the material. 
  5. Incorporate different methods of teaching into your campus’s learning management system. PowerPoints are great but, when possible, try to voice them over to increase engagement. Videos are available on the pathophysiology of many diseases so, when possible, incorporate these into the modules. Any evidence-based reputable online source is fine, but you may want to explore the Remote Teaching Channel in the Digital Learning Hub. Readings are also helpful but adding recent journal articles can have the additional benefit of putting context to some of the material.
  6. Be as active as possible as the instructor. Voice over comments back to the students if the online platform allows for this. If not, there are many tools, including YouTube, that you can use to make short videos or to provide feedback.
  7. Avoid using feedback such as “great work.” Generic feedback may lead to students feeling that you are disengaged. Comment on a specific point about their assignment and ask for clarification when needed or give them additional pointers.
  8. Use synchronous options when you can. Assign a time when all students need to log on and answer any questions or clarify difficult topics. While there may be some issues with webcams, many students should still be able to call in and listen.
  9. Develop group assignments. Working in teams, while virtual, still promotes collaboration among classmates and helps students feel more connected.
  10. Most important, programs should work together and share resources. This is a difficult time for all of us, and working together will help us get through it successfully!
Denise Rizzolo, PhD, PA-C

Denise is an assistant clinical professor at Pace University in New York. She joined PAEA as a part-time assessment specialist in September 2017.