As we start AY16-17 here at Webster University, we’d like to offer up a few suggestions for “New (Academic) Year’s resolutions” for our online instructors. Maybe you are new at teaching online or maybe you have been doing it for years – either way, take a look at the five suggestions below and see if at least one of them will inspire you to resolve to be even better this year.
- Bring in the World It’s a brand new year, new students, new current events. Use the clean slate to up your game and bring relevance to your instruction so that students can make the connection between your content and the real world. Consider just how much new information you come across each week as you are naturally drawn to topics covered within your course. Share a copy of these recent discoveries to help students feel connected and excited to learn more.
- Spice Up Your Routine – Haven’t tried that video feature yet? Now would be a great time to turn on that Webcam and actually talk to your students. Use it in an announcement or even in your feedback on assignments. Want a different relationship with your students? Vow to improve/increase your communication with students in order to support and enhance your learning community. Heard about rubrics but haven’t gotten around to creating any yet? Rubrics are used to describe the learning outcomes of an assignment and the points that will be assessed for each part. Having a rubric with explicit expectations can help avoid misunderstandings when it comes to grading.
- Give Individual Time & Attention to Students Make sure that all of your students get some individual time during the term. Maybe you have a private email exchange, a journaling assignment, a video conference, or even a phone call. Let the students know that you are invested in their success.
- Set New Goals Do some research on online teaching techniques and create a few new goals to incorporate what you have learned. Or challenge yourself to learn something new about the subject matter you are teaching. This could be from an online article or professional journal. Then bring that new content or technique into the course and share it with students.
- Maintain Your Work/Life Balance – Don’t forget to take care of yourself as you are teaching. Many of you are not full time instructors for Webster and as such, have to balance a full time job and family with your teaching. Enjoy your time at home and away from your teaching environment. Stay organized with your teaching by setting aside time each day for the teaching part of your life.
Kate Sprague is an Instructional Designer and Training Specialist in the Online Learning Center at Webster University.