How to teach online

Due to coronavirus many companies, language schools, universities switch into remote work and organise online courses. For many teachers, it quite a challenge, especially for those who never did that before. How do I teach? What do I use? How do I organise work? Teachers, don’t panic! Here are some tips for you.

1. Equipment

First thing you need when you start teaching online is equipment. So, what do you need?

  • Computer/Laptop
  • Camera
  • Good Internet connection
  • Headset with earphones and a microphone
  • Platform
  • Online Whiteboard
  • Materials, e.g. pictures, realia, flashcards, puppets (it all depends on what age, level, type of lesson, etc. you teach)

2. Platforms

There are so many platforms you can use nowadays! Here’s the list of some well-known.

Personally, I prefer Zoom. Here are some reasons why. 

  • Video connection — you can see each other!
  • Chatbox — students can type questions, you can type the emerging language, set writing tasks, check tasks, ask questions, type key points (grammar, vocabulary, etc.). You can save the chat in Zoom and send it to the students after the lesson.
  • Recording — students who are absent can watch the lesson later.
  • Screensharing — show videos, articles. In addition, you can use marking tools to highlight something 
  • Breakout rooms — set pair or group work, switch between rooms to monitor students.

3. Interactive online whiteboard

The main things you can do on the whiteboards are: write or type, use a pointer, organise a chat, let students collaborate on the board, share screen, send attachments, upload documents, send badges/stars, add some things to your faces :), raise a hand, video/audio feed, etc. Follow the links and read about all the specific features of each online whiteboard.

4. Different online tools

The list is unlimited, but I’ll share some I use and find quite handy.

  • Quizlet — to organise games or to have students practise vocabulary at home.
  • Teaching tools for vocabulary practice
  • Google Drive — to share documents. I also use Google Doc for writing tasks (it’s easier to highlight, leave comments, etc.). I use Excel to have lists of groups, track attendance, tests’ score.
  • Kahoot — to do quizzes, revise vocabulary, grammar, check comprehension.
  • Wheeldecide.com 
  • Onlinestopwatch.com
  • Online dice
  • Online coin
  • Tools for educators — create worksheets, dominoes, bingo cards, crosswords, mazes, board games.
  • Genial.ly 
  • Class tools — generate sms, QR, profiles, certificates; use image reveal, countdown timer and loads of other useful things!

Read more about digital resources and online tools in our articles here.

Things to keep in mind

  • Prepare fully and learn the platform, tools and whiteboard so you know it like the back of your hand.
  • Check that technology works!
  • Teach students the tools and “show them around” in the first lesson so they’re familiar and don’t feel lost during the lessons. You can organise an orientation lesson to familiarise students with the tools and platform and set some rules.
  • Prepare fewer materials for the first lessons as you’ll spend some time on technical and tools explanations; teaching students how to use everything and making students comfortable with online learning.
  • Plan more time for tasks as usually they take more time online.
  • Use gestures and facial expressions to aid comprehension.
  • Be aware: the waiting time is longer due to technical issues. Some learners don’t know tech tools or it’s harder for them to follow you online. 
  • Prepare for technical problems and think about solutions. For example, you can both say and type instructions in the chat, so if there’s the Internet breakdown, students who went offline, we’ll see the instruction in the chat and keep the track.
  • Think about classroom management: it’s harder to do that online, especially if you teach teenagers or children.
  • Add variety because it’s harder to just “sit and learn” in front of the screen for an hour or more.
  • Be more emotional to “transfer” you good mood through the video connection 🙂

I can imagine how stressful it is for all offline teachers all of a sudden switch into online. But this situation provides lots of opportunities for experiments and creativity. Here are the advantages of online teaching:

  • You don’t have to spend time on commuting.
  • You don’t stop! Even when there’s a pandemic situation outside, you can continue working.
  • You can travel and teach from any point in the world. Well, not now, but in some time. 🙂
  • You’re up-to-date with the new technology!

Check some articles on the topic you may find useful

How to get started as an online teacher of English 

19 Successful Online English Teachers Share Their Tips and Resources for Planning Online Lessons

Self-care supplies every online teacher needs

Online Teaching Problems and Solutions

The hidden threat of online teaching

How to start teaching online: 7 tips

Teaching online: myths and reality

Checklist for online classes

Before you start, test yourself: Is online teaching right for you?

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