Teaching from a distance isn’t easy. Platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and FaceTime allow us to stay connected in virtual classrooms, but teaching through these platforms comes with challenges, especially if you are used to a traditional classroom setting.
How do we keep our students engaged?
How do we ensure students are understanding the material we present?
How many projects should be assigned?
HOW DO I TAKE MYSELF OFF OF MUTE?!?!
From the serious to the sublime, online instructors just like you are asking questions and looking for ways to most effectively present educational information for one simple reason: We all care about our students.
With that important foundation, there is no doubt you will find teaching success. Here are three strategies that will help you on your way . . .
1. Stay Personally Connected
There is a special bond between teachers and students. If you think back to your favorite middle school or high school teachers, you’ll undoubtedly remember that they cared about you and your success — they asked about your well-being, they graded your papers thoughtfully, they pushed you to be your best. Mastery of the subject matter isn’t enough in the classroom; the best teachers are invested in their students.
The same is true in an online learning environment. You may be separated by miles, but you can still connect personally.
- Greet students by name as they join your virtual classroom.
- Message students individually to follow up on a question they presented during class.
- Highlight outstanding student performance during class to affirm hard work.
The effort you make on a personal level will result in improved student engagement.
2. Promote Group Learning
Online students can benefit greatly from working in small groups. Whether it’s a group study session, a class discussion board, or working together on joint tasks, peer learning is an effective technique for student success.
This is not a replacement for your online lectures; it is a supplement meant to vary learning techniques and allow students to take a level of ownership in their educational experience.
It is often noted that academic retention rises when students discuss, practice, and teach others. Learning in small groups allows students to do all three.
3. Embrace Variety
One of the downsides of online learning is that it can become routine and monotonous. Staring at a computer screen isn’t the most engaging way to learn. Therefore, finding variety in your presentations is of paramount importance. Studies show that “no one teaching strategy will consistently engage all learners,” and that “teachers need to vary teaching styles and techniques so as not to cause boredom to the students in the classroom.” If this is true in the classroom, it’s even more true in the virtual classroom.
A few ideas:
- Send pre-class assignments
Prior to your next class, assign a case study or a patient’s unique medical history to study in preparation for your class discussion. This will engage the students and encourage interest in the upcoming learning experience before class even begins.
- Utilize guest lecturers
Inviting nurses who are experts in a variety of specialties is an effective way to increase student engagement. A variety of instructors, clinicians, and educators will stimulate your student’s interest and improve retention of the material being taught.
- Utilize supplemental materials
Remembering that students learn in a variety of ways, don’t rely solely on lectures as a teaching practice. Some students respond well to passive learning techniques, but others thrive in an active-learning environment. Find high-quality online learning tools that will act as a supplement to what you are teaching in your online classroom environment.
As an online educator, you have a great opportunity to make a difference. The U.S. Department of Education says that “online learning opportunities and the use of open educational resources and other technologies can increase educational productivity by accelerating the rate of learning.” In an ever-increasing digital world, if you’ll stay personally connected, promote group learning, and embrace variety, you can redefine learning for a whole new generation of nursing students!
For educators looking for a high-quality online teaching tool to help supplement student learning, UWorld is the industry leader for licensing exam preparation. Check out UWorld Nursing’s NCLEX-RN QBank that has over 2,000 NCLEX-style questions, and contact us to see how we can help your institution today.