Common mistakes new online teachers make

online education mistakes

Covid-19 has changed every single aspect of our lives globally. Education was one of the things that was affected right away by the new pandemic as schools closed around the world and both students and teachers had to shift to online education overnight. This shift, however, does not simply entail conducting a lesson using an app instead of going to an actual classroom. It is a completely different process that requires different teaching approaches and methods and it is definitely not something that educators can adapt to overnight. 

“People have been interested in online education more than ever lately and since they have found a bit of free time they want to try new things too, like learning Greek online,” the Director of Studies of Greek Lessons OnLine, Mrs Stella Bompotsiari, claims. The School is experiencing a great number of people who want to learn Greek lately. However, due to its great experience in the field of online education as it has been operating since 2012, it is also experiencing great interest from educators who reach out to get advice about how to teach online. What common mistakes do all these educators who had to suddenly shift to online education might be making, though?  

  1. Excessive teacher talking time.  Teachers talking more than students is not a great characteristic of an educator in general regardless of whether they teach online or not. Any educator should aspire to a student-centered lesson rather than a teacher-centered one. When it comes to online education, however, this is twice as bad. Online teachers have to learn to ask the questions and actually wait to hear the answers. Online education is based on interaction. Teacher talking time and student talking time must be divided into 40% and 60% respectively. Educators must remember that online education is not a lecture. It is something a lot more demanding and complicated that requires student interaction in order to be successful and to ensure students do not lose interest.
  1. Ill-equipped teachers! It is probably not a great idea for a teacher to start teaching online if their internet connection is not fast enough, if they do not have the right camera, headphones and most importantly a digital pen. Without these they will be quickly frustrated and disappointed because they will realize that the quality of their lesson is unacceptable. And so will their students. It is a great idea to invest in this technological equipment that is actually quite affordable and easy to get in order to enjoy all the great perks of teaching online and to reward students with amazing classes they cannot find anywhere else. This investment might be especially important now that mediocre online education is the new pandemic.
  1. Preparation is key! Teaching is a performance. Especially experienced teachers enter a classroom and are great at improvising and thinking of what to say on the spot. Online education is a lot more complicated than that, though. Teachers need to be prepared, to have made interesting and interactive Powerpoint presentations, to have prepared notes that will help them lead their students’ towards knowledge more successfully. Even great actors have to stop improvising eventually and study the script. Usually this is what wins them an Academy Award!   
  1. Class is not over when you close the meeting and say “see you next time.” Online education requires constant communication between classes. Teachers need to have organized a way to upload all the material for their students and check if they do their homework when they have to. It is also really helpful to prepare short videos about the previous class and ask students to react to the video, comment on it or write down questions they could ask their teacher. There is no doubt that online education means physical distance and to cover this distance communication must be constant, while of course always respecting the personal time of both parties involved. 
  1. Kids come with parents! Young students need to be supervised. This is how they perceive interest and also what makes them feel safe. This is why it is essential for teachers to communicate with their students’ parents, update them about their progress and also receive feedback. Once a month is ideal! Parents will appreciate the interest and students will feel secure in an appropriate student-teacher-parent relationship with both rules and limits. 

Schools will most definitely open again when it is the right time. Online education, however, is here to stay since there is not doubt that it is the future of education. And just like with everything in life the “fittest” one will survive.

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