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Online teaching hacks

As the majority of post-secondary teachers around the globe are now teaching their students online, it is time for all of us to share our successes and lessons learned over the past few weeks.  Here is a list of ten online teaching hacks I have learned as an online teacher and course developer.  If you can enhance to these ideas, or if you have more, please share in the comments below or via your social network.

  1. Locating practical resources. Identify a tool or resource that has the utility you require for preparing or delivering your online course.  For example, for image editing, Photoshop is not always practical as it may be too expensive for many teachers.  To find alternatives to Photoshop, open Google, and then type “sites like Photoshop”.  The Google search will return a list of alternatives.

  2.  Suitable scheduling.  Although most activities and resources in an online course are attempted by students as their personal schedule allows, it is a good practice to have some synchronous events through out the course.  These can be regular text chats, fully online classes using tools such as Zoom or BigBlueButton, or communication apps such as Remind.  Teachers can use online polls to negotiate common meeting times. Lettucemeet is a simple tool to set up meeting times.

  3. Convert PowerPoint presentations to video.   Many instructors have PowerPoint presentations that they have used in their face-to-face courses.  To make these more accessible online, consider these options.  To change a PowerPoint into a video, open the PowerPoint document, and remove unnecessary content.  This can be text, decorative images, embedded videos and complex backgrounds.  Slideshows present better as a video when content and visuals are concise.  The second step is to add a layer of audio to the PowerPoint.   A teacher can record audio over each slide within the PowerPoint program.  After edits and recording have been completed, export the presentation to video format.  This video can be shared with students through a hyperlink embedded in an LMS course or during a screen-share in a live online classroom.

  4. Parsing video. There are many ways to edit video online.  Most features offered by video editors are not required by instructors.  Teachers normally need to set a start point and an endpoint for online videos.  This allows students the efficiency of a single click viewing experience.  After viewing, they can move to the next task without having to locate the starting point on longer videos.  Vibby, a free online video editing tool, offers in-point and outpoint designation.  However, Vibby allows instructors the ability to set multiple in-points and outpoints.  This makes the viewing of videos more efficient for learners.

  5. Optimizing images. Optimizing images refers to the practice of changing digital images to a balance of visual and storage quality.  The trick is to present images that are clear and in their original perspective, while not taking too much digital space.  This will make viewing your course more efficient which accommodates students with limited bandwidth.  Webresizer allows teachers to upload an image and make quick adjustments.  A preview window allows the user to compare the original image with the optimized version.  The optimized version can be downloaded and used in your online course.

  6. Open Educational resources. OERs are free resources that can be used and sometimes adapted to enhance your online course. Examples of these are Khan Academy, PBS Learning, Smithsonian Education, Open Stax, and CK-12. These, as well as, content from MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are potential places to locate learning materials for your online course.

  7. Softball activities. Before introducing a new technical resource, offer the students a very simple step-by-step activity with a guaranteed successful outcome. Student confidence is imperative in online instruction.  It is also our obligation to demonstrate fairness when teaching online.  If students anticipate tricks or curveballs, some may lose respect for online learning.  Before I assign creative technology tasks, I always provide students with step-by-step worksheets.  One example is asking them to create an online virtual tour.  See the example in the resources section below.

  8. Duplicate – do not retype! When generating online learning materials think recycle, duplicate, and copy-paste.  Do not waste your precious time retyping data into forms, widgets or documents to create new learning activities or resources.  Look for the Duplicate or Copy buttons when using new tools. It is much faster to duplicate then to adjust content and republish with another label or name.

  9. Introducing unfamiliar terminology.  Each module or unit of study includes vocabulary and technical terms.  Offering students a means of self-studying terminology before a live class or course tasks is a good practice. Tools such as SpellingCity, Quizlet or Kahoot allow students to engage with new vocabulary using various learning events and unlimited repetition of leading to mastery of vocabulary and technical terms through self-study.

  10. Hyperlink or embed content? To share additional online content, decide whether you will share a link with your students or embed the resource into your course page.  To embed content such as a Quizlet study set, just copy the embed code from the app’s publish/share options.  This embed code must be pasted into the HTML editing feature of your online course.  For online objects that do not provide an embed code, Ted Ed Lessons, copy the link address, and then generate an HTML IFrame code with the IFrame Generator.  This code can be pasted into your course’s HTML editor to display the item. 

Relevant resources

Convert PowerPoint to mp4 video, https://youtu.be/4-bhjcBGaDU

iFrame Generator, https://www.iframe-generator.com/

Lettucemeet. https://lettucemeet.com

Parsing online video, https://bit.ly/3a9ere5

Optimizing images, https://bit.ly/33Cc018, image editing tool http://webresizer.com/resizer/

Student made virtual tours, https://bit.ly/33zc9SQ, How to sheet, https://bit.ly/2wfCCsF

Tips of making online learning objects, https://bit.ly/33ABXOr

Vibby, https://www.vibby.com/create/1

Web Resizer, http://webresizer.com/resizer

John Allan

John Allan

John is a Canadian who writes about learning object development and online facilitation from a teacher's perspective.

One thought on “Online teaching hacks

  • Some nice links in there John !
    A couple of these are definitely new to me … so I’m off to explore !


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