Teaching is an incredibly fulfilling profession—and today, giving back through virtual instruction is more accessible than ever. Whether you want to be a full-time online educator or would just like to add a course to your schedule, it’s helpful to know the ins and outs of distance learning.
Here’s how you can navigate this growing “genre” of remote work. Check out the following five pivotal areas, along with some insights from professors, teachers, adjunct instructors, and tutors:
Building engagement and rapport.
Establishing expectations, teaching philosophy, and desired boundaries with students early on is wise—whether you’re teaching one-on-one or in a virtual classroom. You’ll also want to get a feel for students’ experiences with online learning and their own perceptions (or misconceptions!) of it. While this was traditionally done via an in-class syllabus review, as a remote educator you have an opportunity to get more creative. One higher ed instructor suggests picking up a daily paper and using it to organize a class discussion in real time, while others recommend a variety of fun virtual icebreakers for students, like sharing a childhood dream. When students become comfortable with their digital presence and that of their peers, they’ll be motivated to assume a more proactive role in the class.
Incorporating relevant edtech tools.
As is often the case with distance learning, you likely won’t be able to control exactly which types of macro-level tech platforms (think learning management systems) will be used. However, incorporating free or low-cost tools to individual lessons can be a fantastic way to gauge students’ perceptions and blind spots, as well as encourage them to become more active learners. Quiz tools like Flipquiz, Quizlet, and Kahoot, and polling platforms like Top Hat all enable you to create a highly interactive environment where students can demonstrate their subject matter comprehension.
Facilitating meaningful peer-to-peer exchanges.
Promoting openness and emphasizing a safe environment for conversation, whether synchronous or asynchronous, can mean the difference between hearing crickets chirping in your classes’ online forums or seeing a slew of virtual hands raised during your next live lecture by webinar. Participation used to involve an attendance checklist in a lecture hall, but in virtual environments, the onus is on educators to foster lively conversations. Discussion apps like Flipgrid build community through multimedia features that enable participants to share their opinions via video, audio, and text in organized threads.
Securing student feedback.
Although an academic institution, startup company, or other education-focused organization may employ you, your real customers are your students. If you’re not creating valuable learning experiences for them, you’re not succeeding in your role! Consider how you can empower them to offer honest feedback through digital tools like Google forms on everything from your instructional approach, to how your teaching aligned with their expectations for the course, to what constructive suggestions they have for improvement. (Ensuring anonymity will be key here.)
Conducting a thorough self-assessment.
As the saying goes, what gets measured gets tracked—and the same goes for teaching. if you reflect upon your performance and preparation for the online course(s) you’ve been hired to teach, including the level of engagement achieved, student learning outcomes, and your own contributions as an industry professional, you’ll have a more complete picture of your own abilities and limitations. While employers may not require this step, it’s strongly suggested as a means of accelerating your growth as an educator.
Want to find remote job opportunities in education? Below are three websites offering full-time, part-time, and contractor roles:
Remote.co: Among its many remote job categories is teaching, which can encompass online faculty gigs, tutoring opportunities, and supportive roles such as those in instructional design, content authoring, or quality assurance.
Higheredjobs.com: If it’s a distance teaching gig in academia that you’re after, this is an excellent resource. Vacancies include both part-time and full-time domestic and international appointments, with some requiring terminal or advanced degrees in specific disciplines.
Edsurge jobs: Here, you can find remote education jobs at edtech startups, academic publishers, as well as for-profit schools and charter organizations spanning the K-20 market (and also the globe).
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com