How Online Teachers Can Be Effective in the Digital Classroom

There is a lot of information about the benefits of working remotely, but what about learning remotely? 

While working from home has become more mainstream, online learning is a new technological frontier for many teachers and institutions. Despite the challenges, remote learning is a rewarding opportunity to create a more accessible and inclusive educational environment — while also teaching students the digital communication skills that will be essential in their future careers. 

Whether you’re a K–12 teacher, a higher-ed professor, or offering professional development and continuing education, it’s never been easier to buy your own domain name and make your website a one-stop resource for all your students. 

How is teaching online different from face-to-face?

Teaching online is a big transition from traditional classroom teaching, and it’s important to find the right ratio of synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication (like a chat room or videoconference) is real-time, while asynchronous communication (like email or a message board) doesn’t require an immediate response. Successful online teachers utilize the strengths of both communication styles.  

…put yourself in your students’ shoes and set reasonable expectations.

Asynchronous learning is beneficial for students who want to learn on their own schedule and for adult students who may be juggling work or childcare. Be sure to structure your asynchronous communications in bite-size pieces. (Don’t just record a video of yourself giving a long lecture and expect your students to pay attention to the whole thing!) Build in time for students to take a break from their screens and move around. Home environments may be unpredictable or distracting, so it’s important to put yourself in your students’ shoes and set reasonable expectations. 

There are still times when synchronous communication is absolutely essential. One-on-one videoconferencing is the best way to build personal relationships, share critical feedback, or help a struggling student. Group videoconferencing helps create camaraderie among students and foster a classroom community. Just be sure to keep the synchronous discussion groups to a manageable size — break up larger classes into smaller working groups.

What online educational resources are there?

Educational technology services offer many tools to help you organize your online classes and engage with students. These edtech companies produce software called learning management systems that often include website templates, grade books, assessment tools, discussion forums, chat rooms, and live and recorded video. 

For a deep dive on everything from LMS software to lesson planning to engagement strategies, be sure to read the Chronicle of Higher Education’s guide to online teaching. The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository is another great resource for ideas and best practices.

…the best way to make [your course materials] accessible to students is to direct them to a website with an easy-to-find domain name.

If you need additional teaching materials accessible online, try OER Commons, a public digital library of open educational resources. For higher education resources, check out the Open Textbook Network

How can teachers buy a domain for remote learning?

Once you’ve selected your learning management system and planned your online course, the best way to make it accessible to students is to direct them to a website with an easy-to-find domain name. 

Make your site a one-stop destination for everything your students need. With schedules, lessons, materials, grades, and contact information on your website, you’ll have a simple, centralized portal to communicate with students, and you won’t have to manage unwieldy email threads. 

If you don’t have access to an institutional .edu domain, create a website with a domain like .study or .courses so that your domain name reflects your content.

From April 1–21, if you register your .courses or .study domain name through Porkbun you’ll get a discounted first-year registration and low renewal rates after that. And every Porkbun registration comes with a bundle of complementary services including:

  • free SSL security;
  • free WHOIS Privacy protection;
  • a 3-month trial of personalized email hosting; and
  • a 3-month trial of Weebly’s website builder.

If you get stuck, Porkbun’s world-class customer service will help you out. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect just try it!

If you’re a classroom teacher just dipping your toes into the world of remote learning, don’t be intimidated. Start small using what you know and try new things as you and your students get more comfortable with the technology. One of the best things about digital learning is that it is flexible, adaptable, and editable. You can always make adjustments as your students give you feedback about what works and what doesn’t. 

The best practices for learning remotely also apply to working remotely in the business world. The technology and communication skills that today’s students acquire through online learning will set them up to be successful in their future careers — whether they work from home or not!