Best Practices in Online Teaching

After reading through this week’s assignment it is clear that those practices that make for “good” teaching in the face to face classroom environment are also considered to be practices that would lead to an effective virtual learning experience.  The similarities between the two are obviously overwhelming.  As classroom teachers we are also expected to establish a rapport with our students that allows us to build trust and help motivate students toward success.  We are expected to design instruction that takes all learning levels and styles into account and create lessons that are organized, content driven and motivate students to want to learn.  Teachers in both arenas should be experts in content knowledge and in the most appropriate methodologies to present that content.  We are expected to provide timely feedback, communicate with students and parents effectively and utilize data to more effectively prepare instruction.  Modeling behavior, elements of class activities and appropriate communication is also expected from both types of educators.

In terms of potential differences, I only found a few, and those weren’t necessarily total differences but varying levels of expectations between the two.  As a classroom teacher in 2016, I am expected to incorporate technology into the classroom more and more every day.  However, I am obviously not expected to utilize technology in the same way and to the same extent a teacher in the virtual classroom would.  I am expected to be flexible of my time as a classroom teacher and to make myself available to students for after school tutoring, communication after school hours etc. but I am not required to be as flexible as those who are facilitating online courses.  As stated in the reading, the nature of a virtual school course is “24 hour a day”; students have the ability to self-regulate their learning experience which means they are not following a typical school day.  I would think that online educators have more access or ability to utilize and analyze data from their courses considering everything is online, but this could be a misconception of mine.  Finally, it seems as if the “behavioral management” portion of an online course would be fairly different because the occurrence of misbehavior would be far less.  I would think that educational integrity (cheating) issues could certainly be more prevalent in the virtual arena, but because you do not have a large group of personalities all coming together physically, the distractions and instances of defiance, disrespect etc. would be lower.

The only practice that stood out to me in terms of questioning it personally was the idea of online educators being able to “identify warning signs of a student who may be in crisis”.  I do not intend to suggest that through the building of a positive relationship between student and teacher in the virtual environment you would not be able to recognize such warning signs, however I do believe it would be far more difficult to notice changes in attitude, appearance, demeanor etc. that typically lead to a classroom teacher spotting potential issues.  I do not know that it is fair to ask a teacher who has never met a student face to face to have the responsibility of recognizing those warning signs.  I am sure there are methods in place for students to check in with other professionals if they have concerns or a history with stress, depression or anxiety, but it’s often hard to recognize these things in the students we see and speak to every day, much less those who we only communicate through written, virtual communication.

In terms of what’s missing, I don’t know that I read anything about identifying those students who may be struggling to the point where the “virtual” learning environment just simply isn’t a fit.  What resources do online teachers have available for identifying and addressing such issues? Obviously, each state would handle these situations differently but I would be interested to see the “best practices” for doing so.

I am interested to know what the term “flaming” means.  It was mentioned in the NEA’s guide when discussing fostering an appropriate and positive learning environment online.  I am assuming it has something to do with inappropriate behavior or the encouraging of such behavior.  (“Flaming the fire”)

3 thoughts on “Best Practices in Online Teaching”

  1. After reading through your response this week I noticed that you had some of the same thoughts that I had. I think that the similarities were pretty easy to spot and almost Identical to what is expected of us in the classroom. When I started reading the differences you found I was glad to see you had thought of some different ones. I was not able to really find many but I have to agree that there were not many that were total differences just bits pieces of them. The biggest thing that stands out to me is the behavioral part. While in class it is easy to spot the students who are cheating but I agree with you that I feel like there would be more cheating going on during online classes. Do you think that there is research on the stats of it? What do you think is a way to monitor students?
    When it comes to being able identify warning signs of a student who may be in crisis, how do you think you could do that? I agree that having to judge all those signs based on never meeting a student would be a task. I think that is where having the hybrid classes would be beneficial. Even if it was just a little face time with the students where you can connect on a more personal level would be helpful to spot issues. I too think having more information about the struggling students would be helpful. I still have many questions when it comes to those students. Having students face-to-face makes it so much easier to handle those salutations.
    I must have missed the part about when they used the term “Flaming”. I tried to do a little research and from what I found it looks like it means when one person sends or posts offensive items on the internet. I myself wonder how as a teacher who never meets these students you can prevent this from happening. I can understand deleting their posts but unless you are watching 24 hours a day people could still post them. What if they post things on sites you are not using like social media pages? How do you handle that? I think these articles brought to light a bunch of questions I had and some seem to be the same as yours.

  2. I did a little research as well about the concept of “flaming”. I find that this occurs in most social media and gaming platforms as users will say and do things online that they would never do face-to-face. I agree that behavior management online would provide different challenges than in a traditional classroom. As an online instructor would you set office hours? How many hours a day do you think that online instructors put into evaluating student performance and progress?

  3. I believe “flaming” is referring to not only inappropriate language but also students making negative and/or threatening comments against what other students have stated thus intimidating those students. Then the online class environment becomes a negative for some participants and therefore, the students hold back from participation because they no longer feel “safe” to state their opinions. What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *