How to Teach Online Classes: 12 Easy Tips to Implement

Online education is becoming more and more popular. More and more people are learning how to teach online classes to reach a wider audience. It’s also a great way to supplement a teacher’s income or bring in extra money for full-time teachers. Teaching does not necessarily require any prior experience, although it would be a bonus for teaching jobs.

With the average person accessing the internet every day, it’s no surprise that online classes are becoming more and more common. This article is for people who wish to teach online classes or already teach online but would like to learn some new tips as preparation.

1. Plan your Lessons 

Teaching online requires planning your lessons, tasks, and assignments. You’ll need to know what lesson you are teaching, what the objective of the lesson is, and what the students need to do to meet the objective.

Plan your lessons before you begin. It helps to have a clear outline of exactly what you want to teach. Be sure that you allocate enough time each week to teach your lessons, and be realistic about how much time each lesson demands. 

Despite the tendency to underestimate how long classes take, rushing through the material will negatively affect your reputation as a teacher. It’s best to have quality over quantity, so don’t take on too many students unless you can ensure the quality of your classes.

2. Become More Comfortable with Technology

Online education is an excellent way to expand the opportunities and experience of students. The best teachers will be comfortable using a variety of technologies, such as webcams, text chat, email, and more.

Although teaching online can be a rewarding experience, it does take some getting used to. Technological devices can be intimidating, and it’s not uncommon for people to use them without a thorough understanding of how they work. 

However, learning to use technology makes you more capable, efficient, and confident in all areas of your life. Don’t let the technological advancements and complexities of current technologies overwhelm you, it should rather inform you. 

3. Create a Comfortable Learning Environment

Teachers must work hard and dedicate themselves, not only to planning classes and grading projects but also to dealing with technical issues. If you want your class to look professional to students and other teachers, you should create an environment that is comfortable for all involved.

At the beginning of every online class, it’s common for students to feel shy, make mistakes, and feel strange speaking to people that they have never met. The class is more accepting of new students when you create a comfortable atmosphere for them. 

Whether you teach physical or online classes without the luxury of hands-on experience, creating a comfortable learning environment is essential. Students need to feel understood, comfortable, and supported if they’re going to truly delve into their studies.

4. Learn How to Motivate Online Learners

There are many different types of learning styles, and these styles affect whether students take an online class, how they perform in the class, and how they do on tests. Certain teaching habits need to be adjusted depending on the type of student you’re working with. 

Teaching is sometimes a tough job. What if a student fails to complete the course? How do you motivate and teach an international class that has people from diverse cultures and backgrounds? How do you measure and evaluate students’ progress? 

As you know, motivation is an important factor in a student’s ability to learn online. The reality is that online classes are not for everyone. Online teachers need to learn how to motivate their students.

SEE: Learn how to motivate online learners

5. Be Sure You Have the Right Tools for Teaching Online

Do you want to deliver online classes? Maybe your employer wants you to, or maybe you want to do it yourself as a home-based entrepreneur. Investing in the right tools can make all the difference between a successful online teaching career and a miserable failure. 

Planning helps, but to teach online you’ll need more than a plan. You’ll need the right tools and resources, too. Whether they’re software, websites, or learning aids, don’t go into teaching a course without the right tools and mindset.

SEE: Explore digital education tools for teachers and students 

6. Be Helpful and Responsive At All Times (Be Easy To Reach)

As an online teacher, you probably have some favorite ways of reaching your audience. If you prefer email, text, or phone calls, let them know that up front. Be clear in your messages and keep conversations short. You’ll likely receive several messages daily, and sometimes you may feel that you aren’t giving enough time to each student. 

Clarify this right away by sharing how many minutes or hours you can spend being responsive to questions or concerns daily. 

A good teacher should be available for questions, and make an effort to touch base promptly with each of his or her students. Nonetheless, remember that while your students always come first, remember to take care of yourself as well.

SEE: Here are the qualities of a good teacher

7. Give Clear Directions and Guidance

Good communication is the single most important ingredient for a successful online course. Many new online instructors fall into the trap of believing that the students should be able to figure things out on their own. 

This is an instance when a new teacher’s “lone-wolf” spirit must be curbed. Always give clear directions and guidance as if you were speaking to a group of people standing right in front of you.

When it comes to providing online instruction, we have found that giving clear directions is one of the most important things you can do. Before you begin to teach, let the students know what they can expect from you. You may want to introduce yourself in a brief video when they sign up for the course. 

Tell them who will be teaching the course and any procedures they should follow while they are in your class, such as what assignments they need to do and where to submit them. Tell them when to expect feedback and if there is a deadline for submitting work.

8. Encourage Accountability in your Students

Online teaching is a different ballgame, and as a result, you may find that you need to encourage your students to be more accountable. Students love to participate in class. However, they may not know how to participate appropriately.

Encourage accountability by giving students a way to manage their participation so that they can get rewarded for good behaviors. 

You can also show your students that you care by making it a point to remind them of what they will need to do next. For example, “Remember, your first assignment is due on Friday.”

SEE: Discover strategies to assess your online students 

9. Conduct Virtual Tutor Session to Get Feedback from your Students

Online students would like to know about your teaching ability. If your students have questions about one thing or the other, you can conduct a virtual session. The most important thing is to provide a fun and unique experience for the students. Offer them an opportunity to ask some questions. 

So, conduct a virtual class or two for them. Set up a 30-minute session wherein you give a PowerPoint lecture about the topic of your course. Ask a few questions at the end of the class so that they can make them known to you. Also, ask them to suggest ways to make it better. Finally, get their feedback on your online class by asking questions.

As a tutor, these sessions help you make sure that you are giving each student the same direction, so they all have an equal chance of being successful. Not only is this important, but it also gives you time to correct any questions or issues that students may not completely understand.

SEE: Here is a beginner’s guide on how to create a webinar

10. Past Experience Can Be Used As a Tool for Future Success

One of the best ways to become a teacher is through first-hand experience. Experience teaches many things, including how students learn and what they want in a class. Those who have some experience teaching online might have an easier time teaching online classes than those who have no experience with the subject. 

When starting as an online teacher, past experience can be a great way to ensure future success. Many people have had previous jobs that were similar to the job they want, and therefore already know how to handle certain situations. If this is you, it might help your case to use your experience as a justification for why you should get the job.

SEE: Understand transferable skills

11. Use Audio and Visual Aids When Possible

Online teachers are constantly looking for ways to keep their students engaged and learn new material. After all, students who participate in class activities score higher on tests and have a better understanding of the subject than those who are left to sit (and often sleep) through the class. 

If you want to increase your students’ engagement during class, consider using an audio recording or a video from time to time. One of the greatest benefits of online teaching is the ability to communicate more effectively with your students. Visuals and audio can help you emphasize key points and make your teaching more engaging. 

Always remember that videos and pictures help students retain information. If a lecture is taught online, teachers need to use audio and visual aids when possible. Making boring material interesting by adding some visuals or sound effects can be very effective in capturing the attention of students.

12. Find Support in Online Communities from Other Educators

With all the new technology, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of an online classroom. Thus, it’s important to stay current on the latest tools for teaching effectively and improving your classes. 

Is teaching an online class getting you down? You don’t have to feel alone or like you’re the only person teaching a class online. Connect with other educators, mentors, and peers. Education is constantly evolving, and the profession is filled with passionate educators who want to share their expertise. 

 Help is out there, in the form of other educators. There are several online communities for educators to bond with as well as ask questions. Some of these communities have been created to share information about a particular organization, while others have been built by pioneers in the online education realm.

SEE: Understand professional learning communities 

FAQs

How do you choose a platform for my online classroom?

If you are wondering how you can offer an online classroom, the best way is to choose a platform. There are several providers, such as Lynda.com, Udemy, Pluralsight, Kajabi, and Thinkific. There is no best platform for everyone. 

You will have to evaluate what you enjoy and your goals for the future of your online classroom. When choosing a platform for your online classroom, consider all the features that you will need, like virtual whiteboards and chat functions.

SEE: Compare Kajabi and Thinkific 

Can anyone teach classes online?

Yes. Anyone can teach online classes. How you want to be perceived is up to you. Educators are required to do research, so be prepared to go down the rabbit hole of learning how to teach online. It takes practice and patience, and when speaking with your students, always try and encourage them in a friendly manner.

Final Thoughts 

In the end, trying to teach online classes is not rocket science. There are plenty of people out there that are doing just that. How you present your class and make yourself stand out will ultimately determine the level of success you will have with your online teaching venture. 

The possibilities are endless if you want to teach online classes. People have already put the idea into action, and you are welcome to do the same. Hopefully, this article will help you as you begin your new endeavor. Make the most of your new opportunity and don’t let yourself down.

Teaching online can be difficult depending on how you go about it. It’s true, learners are far away and can be easily distracted. What if there’s something you can do to get their attention and engage them? The answer is to read the article that outlines practical ways to increase online course engagement.

Thanks for reading.