The number one thing on an educator’s mind before students roll into class is to make sure their classroom is set up to be an effective learning environment that leads to student success.
Achieving this in a traditional classroom should be simple—after all, as the professor, you have full control over the community of the classroom, how lectures are given and whether students remain engaged. It’s the easy part! Here comes the hard part: taking everything you know (and likely love) and transitioning it into the digital world by creating an online classroom.
The differences between the two are about as similar as oil and water. The biggest transition is…well everything. You basically have to start from scratch, rethink what you used to do and adapt it to an online setting. I learned the hard way that setting up an online forum for students to learn is not as easy (or cheap) as people think.
What do Online Students Want?
Everything! Students this day in age want access to videos, course materials and online help anytime, anywhere. They also want to be entertained in addition to being taught – reading directly off a text-heavy PowerPoint won’t get you very far. As a result, you make the slides, study guides, books, notes, etc. fun by adding visuals and videos. Students now also need study reminders and updates, and want ongoing progress updates to see how they’re doing or countdowns to exam day.
Keep It Short
As mentioned in my previous blogs, the next generation of accounting professionals are the “Uber Generation,” which is my fancy way of saying they have short attention spans with an overwhelming amount of distraction. Based on just having dinner with my children some nights, I know that having students sit through a long-winded video lecture will not result in comprehension and understanding. In order to maintain their interest, keep the video lectures short and sweet, and continuously change what you are doing or talking about every 10-15 minutes. Whether you are lecturing, showing a video clip, PowerPoint or whiteboarding – keep changing what students are looking at to force their minds to adapt.
Bring Your A-Game
Since I can’t be in the room to monitor certain students, I don't know who to target with my energy – so I’ve got to bring my A-game to every recording session. The keys to success for engaging with students via a computer, tablet or phone are to talk directly into the camera so they feel like you’re right there with them and maintaining high energy throughout the lecture. Everyone is different, but I enjoy acting and being up on stage, so being able to take the online classroom and make it my stage has worked well in keeping students engaged.
Don’t Let It Change You!
Switching from traditional to online classrooms can be difficult, time consuming and overwhelming. But if you take the proper steps to prepare, practice and preach, you’ll be able to stick to your engaging and entertaining teaching style and set your students up for success. Whether teaching in a traditional or online environment, keep it exciting, dynamic, and multifaceted.