Teaching online guidebook

Be an active teacher

Image by percuss (Texample.net) http://www.texample.net/tikz/examples/author/percusse/Active teaching is important whether you are teaching face to face or online. However, the online environment is more challenging as students can't interact with you in a physical space. (This is why social presence is key to teaching online.)

Active teaching supports the four characteristics of online learning: personal, structured, active, connective.

In your topic, you could use the weekly features 'Key ideas', 'What you need to do this week' and/or 'Recap the key points from last week' as a structure to support your teaching in the topic. These prompts will help you give students a consistent message about learning activities, and guide them to stay on task and actively engaged.


Explore your role

Roles for teachers provides ideas and approaches to teaching online. 'Meddler in the middle' is a role suggested for teachers, but whatever role you choose it is likely to change over the course of the topic depending on student needs, and the online activities you engage in with them. 


Promote social learning

Students can and should learn from others, and there are plenty of opportunities to do this in the topics (forum, live chat, private feedback etc – the tools in the Communication area). So that students don't become isolationist (and therefore at risk of attrition), encourage them to participate in the topic wherever and whenever they can. Relate their participation to assessment and how they will be advantaged. Thread it throughout your own participation in the topic. Teachers are social learners too! Refer students to the Course guide for more information about social learning.


Look for 'teachable moments' (a just-in-time approach)

By being socially present in the topic site, you will be able to notice what students need, when they need it. 

  • Is it obvious that students clearly don't understand a concept (this might be a threshold concept or muddy point)?
  • Do a few students seem to have a similar issue/s?

You could use tools such as the live chat or a relevant forum to directly address these. You might choose to add a resource (self created or link to an external one), or encourage students to find a resource themselves and share with everyone. Your approach will depend on the situation and your teaching role in that moment.


Be responsive

Listen to student feedback, monitor their progress, and use your learnings to 'shape' the topic from beginning to end, by making sense of what's happening 'behind the scenes'. This might mean providing a resource as a scaffold around a threshold concept or muddy point, or adding a section (eg extra activity) in a week that helps students to find/respond to materials more easily. A key word here is timely – quick to respond to posts, queries, assessment etc.


Evaluate the topic (ongoing)

By checking on student activity in the topic and using tools such as the Touchpoint survey, you can evaluate as you go. This approach is active and will provide quantitative and qualitative data for future topic development.


What active teaching looks like to a student

  • Welcome and other teacher-created video/s
  • Announcements
  • Regular posts or post responses
  • Lively live chat (high-level facilitation)
  • Prompt feedback on assignments (could include audio/video) 
  • Just-in-time resources and other support 
  • Participation (in the same activities as them)
  • Listening (eg to feedback)
  • Up-to-date and relevant resources (readings, videos etc)
  • Amendments/adjustments