Final advice from our contributors
In preparing this course, we sent a series of questions to experienced online educators from across the FutureLearn partnership, asking about the kind of advice they would share for those transitioning their teaching online. We received so many answers we haven’t been able to use them all, but we thought they might be useful as part of the course conclusion. Below are some of the questions we asked and some more of the educators’ responses.
What three key considerations should educators make when moving from face to face to online?
Claire Ross, The British Council, Lebanon:
1: How, how often and when will I communicate with my learners (and their parents)?
2: What can my learners do by themselves and what do they need to do as a group or with me?
3: How can I make sure that my online teaching is inclusive?
What practical steps can set your learners up for success for learning online?
Neil Mosley, Cardiff University: “Offer an initial low barrier to entry activity, discussion or space to share that gets learners talking or contributing and that also gets them thinking about what they already know, or prior experiences related to what you’re going to be teaching. This will hopefully help to engender confidence to engage and contribute which will put learners in good stead for the rest of the course.”
Rebecca Ferguson, The Open University: “Set aside time for (students) to understand and explore the online environment. Be aware that they may be sharing a computer, have intermittent internet access, or be using a small phone screen. Build in time for them to share issues and to discuss solutions.”
Amy Ike, GDST: “Don’t have really long sessions- little and often to maintain human contact and connectivity and learn in digestible chunks is much better than trying to replicate long lectures.”
What’s the biggest wrong assumption you’ve made when teaching online?
Josh Underwood, The British Council, Bilbao: “That live online classes wouldn’t be fun :-)”
Mark Brown, Dublin City University: “When I first started teaching online over 20-years ago I assumed that all I needed to do was put my lecture notes on the internet and open a bulletin board for discussion. With the benefit of hindsight it was hardly surprising that very few people responded, posted comments or even asked questions. What I discovered is that we have to help your students learn how to ask the right questions. I would even go so far as to say more often than not the question is the answer!”
Describe your approach to teaching online in three words:
Angela Davies, The University of Manchester: “Creative collaborative community”
Diana Laurillard, UCL: “Learning to teach”
Sally Trowbridge, The British Council, Barcelona: “Keep it simple”
Simon Rofe, SOAS: “Flexible, supportive, quality”
Lisa Harris, University of Exeter: “Collaborative, innovative, democratic”
Martin Weller, The Open University: “Supported open learning”
What’s the one thing you’d recommend to educators new to teaching online?
Neeraj Dhanani, The British Council, Barcelona: “Don´t worry about getting everything perfect first time. Keep in mind, that for many students it’s also their first time doing online courses and they´re just as green as you are. Explore and enjoy the experience with them and if you keep trying new things you’ll soon find out what works best.”
Sally Trowbridge, The British Council, Barcelona: “Try it out first - tech try it out with a friend, new platform - try it out as a learner, try out ways of teaching by copying someone who’s doing it.”
What advice would you share with other teachers new to online teaching?