Course Management for the Online Classroom

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

How do you ensure online students participate in discussions? How do you discipline a student in an online setting? This lesson will explore common aspects of online classes and how to maximize learning and participation.

Online Classrooms

The first day of class in a traditional classroom is filled with emotions. Anxiety about the content and the unknown variables that your students bring with them will inevitably shape the classroom dynamic. Teaching online is filled with many of the same anxieties. Teachers have to determine how to engage students, manage classroom activities, and handle disruptive students. This lesson will look at the essentials of teaching online classes.

Classroom Management in an Online Environment

In an online classroom, classroom management takes on a new dynamic. While you don't face the common issues of asking John to please stay in his seat, or Annie to stop talking, you do face other issues that any other teacher would.

Online classes contain an asynchronous discussion forum, perhaps synchronous live discussions, email, and telephone calls.

The discussion forum is the primary method for engaging students in conversations about the materials. Each week there will be discussion topics that allow users to interact with one another as they work to integrate the new learning.

Live online sessions using a digital blackboard, video conferencing, and chat are other methods online teachers use to engage the students and help them to understand the content.

How can online students get help when they need it? Weekly discussions are just one place where students can ask for help. Most online platforms also have a specific place to post questions or issues. Telephone and email are additional ways students can let teachers know they need help.

Methods for managing an online classroom
Classroom Management Online

Just like in the regular classroom, online instructors have to monitor student interactions and behaviors. Even in an online setting, students can say and do things that are inappropriate. Most schools have guidelines for how these issues should be handled. Posting rules and guidelines and asking students to read these before the class starts, then asking students to take a quiz to prove they have read through the rules, is a good way to avoid many issues. Online platforms are designed so teachers can monitor all student activities. When issues do occur, teachers can delete comments, contact students directly via phone or email, or schedule a live video conference.

Creating Cooperative Learning in an Online Environment

Cooperative learning in an online classroom is critical to student learning; you just have to be more creative in how you develop these activities. Online classrooms usually have a tool built into the online classroom for small group activities. This allows you to create designated areas within the course for groups to interact with one another on various assignments. If that isn't an option, you can always create separate threads for each group to use for discussions.

Methods for managing cooperative learning in an online classroom
Managing Cooperative Learning Online

As an online instructor, you want to be mindful when you create small groups. It is not uncommon to lose a few students along the way, so it is important to keep an eye on group size and make adjustments to group rosters when necessary.

Dealing with Common Teaching Tasks

When you start an online course, typically the schools online platform will manage your rosters. The rosters will be generated by your employer and will include names, email addresses, and phone numbers for students. Online schools have attendance requirements, and students have to log in to be considered present. The system will normally drop students automatically if they have not been logging in.

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