Being part of an online environment as a student is an incredible opportunity in this day and age, but being an online instructor also has many benefits and being that this territory is being pioneered and will continue to expand, it is important to make sure, that as teachers, we are providing a safe e-learning environment for our students and we are reaching every single one.
This could be a daunting thing to do since we do not see students face to face at all or very little. Just like we learned in our credential program, strategies to make sure all students are engaged are many and using the right one at the right time is a skill that many master as the years go by and after groups come in and out of their class.
In an online environment, teachers must also ensure that all students are learning as well. To do so, just as in traditional environment, the teacher needs to pay attention to certain cues and address them appropriately depending on the situation. The following are an informal list of what to look for:
- Word choice: teachers need to pay attention to the language being used in discussion boards or assignments being turned in. Disengagement, lack of understanding or interest is usually cued by the choice of the words.
- Turning in assignments on time: just like in a regular classroom, not turning in assignments on time signals several things, the student is not paying attention, the student is not disciplined or that there is trouble in other aspects of their life
- Body Language: When students present or speak in front of the camera for an assignment, body language is a big tall tell of how prepared and engaged students really are. Looking or not looking at the camera signals an issue.
In an online environment, the teacher also has ways to communicate with the student, addressing issues of disengagement, lack of understanding or any other issue going on right when they are noticed is important because there is a better change it will get resolved. Because we are teaching children and young adults, it is our job to look out for their well being, whether it is emotional support, or academic support, being there even if we stare at the screen more than their actual faces is what separates the good teachers from the inefficient teachers.