Pedagogical Resources for Online Teaching
Forming and Maintaining an Online Community
Building a digital community is an essential part of a successful online classroom. Simply put, a digital community is the creation or advancement of a group of people with a common need or interest. This could be a group of first graders working towards second grade, a high school math cohort learning geometry, or even student teachers engaging in an online clinical experience seminar.
Forming an online community in your classroom begins with giving your students a voice. This can be accomplished by simple introductions or show-and-share sessions. It can be maintained by using conversational tone while engaging with your students online, calling them by their name during interactions, referring to their shared experiences, and finally taking in consideration the feedback that they give.
Showing and Conveying a Sense of Classroom Presence
By having a strong sense of presence, instructors will include, influence, and inspire their learners across the instructor/student divide that virtual learning creates.
Being present in an online classroom can be accomplished with a series of small but consistent gestures. Setting down some ground rules for your own engagement can be helpful:
- Be active in your online class. Do check-ins with groups or individual students and be an active participant in your student’s journey through your content.
- Give personalized feedback by making personalized comments on projects (group or individual) in a variety of ways (video, audio, text) and answer messages in a timely manner (within 24 working hours).
- Be flexible. Being understanding to the obstacles that learning at home can come with, will make you into a ‘real person’.
- Create area outside of content. This can be a discussion forum sharing ideas, pictures, or weekend fun. It can take the form of a ‘most recent art works’ or ‘what I found in nature’. This give you an opportunity to connect with your learners on a more personal level. It will also bring your group together to create social bonds between peers.
Understanding and Integrating Classroom and Pedagogical Interactivity
We have all taken part in a meeting, virtual or face-to-face, that has no space for interactivity. You sit and get, while trying not to fall asleep. When your students are in front of you, you are given the affordances to snap them back into reality and force their attention. Without deliberate design, virtual learning does not give us an opportunity to check a learner’s engagement with their content.
Integrating activities into your course and within your content will keep your student’s attention, while giving you the ability to assess and re-evaluate your delivery. You also allow them to engage in with the content, and in some cases with each other.
Interactivity can make learning fun and personal, furthermore it will encourage your students to return and get them interested in your next adventure!
- Group projects that span multiple days or lessons
- Content reflections – make it personal, ask for your learner’s thoughts/opinions
- Video quizzes or other low stakes assessments
- Read aloud books
- Collaboration boards
- Puzzles and gamification techniques
Maintaining Clear, Concise, and Personalized Communication
Communications online should be regular and consistent. You want your learners to come to expect time-released content introductions and/or daily check-ins. When these announcements are consistent, your learners will begin to know where to look for them and rely on them.
Making your expectations with course engagement and content interactions clear can and will make the difference between success and failure. Explain and re-explain direction in different ways at the start and reiterate during the middle of an assignment or content interaction. For instance, maybe you have text instructions alongside a video introduction, then a synchronous check-in towards the middle or end of completion.
The simple acts involved with welcoming your students into their classroom (high fives, quick squeezes, winks) everyday are small but invaluable. As online instructors, we must find ways to establish the same meaningful interactions. You must be deliberate, personal, and equitable, which will take time to integrate into your daily schedule.
Setting up a Schedule and a Designated Workplace
Whether you are an instructor or an engaging student, no matter where you go for online learning tips, you will find suggestions in managing your schedule and time. It is very easy to get swept away in virtual space, engulfing all your time, personal and professional, in your work or studies.
When developing your content, it is important to consider how long it will take for your learners to progress through the material. There is a general rule in design that it will take somewhere between time and a half to double the amount of time that it takes you to run through the content.
Setting up a schedule for yourself and your students to engage will help you manage your time, while leading your learners on a path of self-direction.
Tips to help…
- Create ‘To do’ or check lists
- Block off times to accomplish tasks
- Have a shared calendar with learners, go through upcoming tasks together
- Stay organized and set aside a specific space to work
Review the basic differences…
|Online Course Design Aspect||Teacher-Centered||Learner-Centered|
|Structure||Instructor designs the structure of the course||Course structure is the product of participatory design|
|Content Interaction||Instructor chooses topics||Students have some choice of topics|
|Learning Activities||Students work alone||Students work in pairs, in groups, or alone depending on the purpose of the activity|
|Social Interactions||One-way interaction: Instructor talks, and students listen||Two-way interaction: Students interact with instructor and one another|
|Assessment||Instructor evaluates student learning||Students evaluate their own learning; instructor also evaluates|
|Feedback||Instructor monitors and corrects every student utterance||Students talk without constant instructor monitoring; instructor provides feedback/correction when questions arise|
|Conceição & Howles (2021)|
According to Conceição & Howles (2021), there are evidence-based learner characteristics that Influence Learning Design. These characteristics are rooting in four learner dimensions, cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioral.
Understanding the different characteristics that affect how your learner will interact in your online course and with your content, will help you deliberately develop content that encourages interactive success.
Instructional Resources for Online Learning
All UW students, faculty, and staff have access to free Linkedin Learning accounts and resources. The link above will lead you to a UWM site that hosts webinars on how to setup your account and use Linkedin Learning. The Linkedin learning library has courses and guides on how to use many different LMS, virtual platforms, learning applications, and more.
Synchronous meetings are a great way to connect and build community and presence in online courses. Many of us have used or at least heard of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Collaborate Ultra, or Google Meets since the start of COVID19. When you are ready to conduct a synchronous meeting with your students, you want to be comfortable with skills like breakout or group meeting rooms, sharing your screen and asking for screen control, sharing video or audio, and asking questions or polling. Your level of understanding is going to correlate with your learners’ level of anxiety and interest will engaging.
Learning Opportunities For Wisconsin Educators
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) developed a statewide initiative designed to bring high quality, online professional learning opportunities to educators that will build their capacity to meet the dynamic needs of each learner in online, blended, and digitally rich learning environments. The offerings will help educators skillfully design and deliver challenging, engaging online and remote instruction using multiple methods and modes.
Visit the Institute for Personalized Learning webpage to view the courses.
Technology Integrated Samples
Sharing resources and course work samples is an invaluable part of course designing. I would recommend that you set up a network to maintain communication amongst your peers or colleagues. When you get advice to what works or what does not, you are not only benefiting your learners but you are also saving yourself valuable time. You will put your own spin on ideas and as you move through your lessons and begin to get a feel for your learners, you will adjust and modify your work. Always ask your learner how they feel about your sessions or lessons and ask yourself what went well or what did not.
Here is a list of content interactions or lessons that demonstrate the different Pillars of Online Education.
Pillars of Innovative Online Learning (online examples)
These examples have been compiled and organized by Candance Doerr-Stevens, PhD Assistant Professor of Literacy Education in the Department of Teaching & Learning at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee for the Pillars of Innovation to Design K-12 Online Environments.
- “American Flag” & “Lincoln Memorial” – digital stories (2nd grade) using VoiceThread
- “Popular Music 1895-Present” – interactive timeline using Knight Lab
- “Civil War Battles” – annotated map using GoogleMaps
- “Discovering My Identity” (1:56) – digital story using WeVideo.com
- “Frida Kahlo” – annotated image using Thinglink
- “Timeline of Butterfly Life Cycle” – using Padlet.com
- 15 Addie and 26 Wilson – family heritage podcasts using Audioboom.com
- “I Wish My Teacher Knew …” – Class introductions using VoiceThread
- “FieldTrip Photo Contest” – online poster display of student-taken photos using Padlet.com
- “Hopes and Fears” – anonymous discussion board using Linoit.com
- Video introductions using FlipGrid
- “Spring Break Truth or Lie” – icebreaker using Padlet.com
- “Our Favorite Books” – Class curated collection of 1st grade books using Padlet.com
- “ArtsECO Precollege Summer Exhibition” – Digital gallery of artwork using Bookcreator.com
- “Teacher-Created Videos for Remote Learning” (3:13) – 3rd grade, 4th grade, music, etc.
- “How to do Partial Quotients” (1:27) – How-To video made using Screencast-o-matic
- “Giant Twix: A Sweet Deal?” (1:25) – video story problem created by Ben Rhimes using phone
- “Six Traits of Writing” (5:05) Animated Lecture using PowToon.com
- “Chemical Equations” – interactive lecture using PearDeck.com
- “Back to School Page” & “Bienvenidos” – interactive interface using Bitmoji & Slides (tutorial)
- Responding to Art – 4th grade Peer Review/Critique/Discussion using VoiceThread.com
- “Into the Mangrove Forest” – Interactive video annotation with Edpuzzle.com
- Collaborative concept mapping using Padlet.com
- Black Lives Matter Instructional Library – Curation of online read alouds using GoogleSlides
- “The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander” – Interactive Read Aloud using PearDeck.com
- “Parallel Lines and Transversals” – interactive math lecture using PearDeck.com
- Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) for engaging with visuals and other abstract ideas
- Examples: w/ 1st graders – w/ high school science
- Videos to use: Trampoline Staircase (1:27) “Cooped” (5:05) – Jamar Roberts NYTimes – A Dance About the State of Emergency We’re In
- “Everything We Know about Giraffes”- KWL chart using Padlet.com