How to Prepare Students for Online Learning
- Posted by: E-planet Educational Services
Students who are new to online learning may, at first, find this type of learning a little disorientating since they are used to a physical space and the physical presence of a teacher. Some may also make the mistake of thinking that online learning requires less of an effort but in fact it is quite difficult for students to motivate themselves to study at their own convenience. This can all be made a little easier with preparing them for learning English online.
Clarify Computer Skills and Technical Terms
When introducing students to an online course you should first provide guidelines on the requirements needed, both in terms of hardware/software and in terms of computer skills. This will provide students who are not so computer savvy with an opportunity to brush up on their skills before starting the course and to ask any questions they might have beforehand.
You might also want to provide a walk-through worksheet or document that goes through step-by-step the technical tasks that might be required of them. Maybe you have been using the same online course of software for years but to some people it may be completely new. If you find it difficult to get into the mindset of a beginner, it might be useful to approach a student who you think might have difficulties and offer to coach them so you can see where the biggest problems lie.
A good handout should include:
– How to access the course
– Instructions on how to use every part of the course
– Where to seek help if needed
Once you have developed a handout, you might want to schedule one or two orientation sessions that combine teaching computer basics and becoming familiar with the online course. This way you can see if there is anything essential that your handout is missing. An orientation session also provides a way of introducing yourself to your students and if it is a group activity provides a way of developing a community.
Explain how independent online learning is different to instructed learning
Whether you are teaching online or offline, you will also want to explain to your students how their self-paced learning fits into the other course activities you do. You should explain how lessons, discussions, lectures can be combined with the self-paced online course to achieve their learning outcomes. The students should see that the course isn’t an optional add-on but fundamental to reinforcing what is being taught by the teacher.
Since students know how long lessons instructed by a teacher are, you should provide a guideline time for how long an online unit should take, so that students can easily at this into their schedule. You might even want to provide students with a schedule or plan that features the online course so students can see where the online course fits in.
An advantage of online learning is that students must learn to read texts extremely carefully. While students might find this difficult at first it encourages them to learn and study independently as well as make decisions more quickly because they don’t have a teacher to rely on for clarification.
Provide Clear Instructions and Clarify Your Expectations
As well as providing an orientation session and general guidelines, much like with setting homework, you should provide
– a basic description of the online task, e.g. please complete the listening task of unit 2, you will listen to three speakers talking about their jobs and then have to answer true of false questions based on what you have heard.
– how it relates to the rest of the course and their learning outcomes, e.g. this will enable you to listen to and understand vocabulary related to professions.
– how long the task should take and when it should be done by, e.g. it shouldn’t take you any longer than 30 minutes to complete and I would like you to finish it for next lesson.
– what to do if they have technical problems and what to do if they have task-related problems, e.g. if you have technical problems, please contact the technical support and if you have problems completing the task, please send me a message.
You should also be clear about how much participation you require from students and what weighting this could have on their overall grade. A gentle reminder from you before a task is due should encourage students to keep up with their online course activities.
Provide Teacher to Student Feedback
By talking about the exercises and activities contained within an online course, students will be able to see, that even though they are studying on their own, they are not alone. A teacher might want to set aside time either within the lesson, or a few minutes after the lesson to go through the correct answers of an online course. This will eliminate any technical or computer-related issues fairly quickly and will help students to see where they went wrong and improve for next time.
And there we have it, if you’ve followed all these tips, you should have successfully prepared students for online learning and make the most of a blended approach to learning. Additionally, our e=learning program, Learn English, can be combined with traditional instructional teaching using our textbooks to achieve this blended learning approach. Click here for more information or contact us for more details.