Terracotta Warriors.

IV. “Dos & Don’ts”

Now you have familiarized yourself with the basic mechanics of course building. But how do you speak to the microphone? How do you present yourself to the camera? How can you effectively communicate with students? What are “do and don’ts” of online teaching? This section introduces some basic tips for online teaching.

On this page:

a. General Advice

CEI’s advice about student engagement: be proficient with the Announcements function. Use this menu as the doorway between you and the students. Make sure to attach rubrics to every assignment if the assignment permits you to do so and try to leave feedback as much as possible. The rubric-based feedback justifies your grading in an objective way, thus reducing student inquires about their grading. Don’t get shy about appearing in front of the camera; your presence on the lecture screen will help students engage with their lecture material. And utilize a virtual office hour tool like WebeX.

Some advice about course design: Sign up for the CEI’s UBlearns Overview Course as soon as you are assigned to teach online. While preparing for your course, make sure to familiarize yourself with speaking to the microphone.

One faculty member’s advice about course operation: “In general, I find breaking things up into daily assignments works better than leaving them long stretches on their own. I expect work from them every class and I give feedback every day. I usually produce a short video for each class as well.” 

b. Advice on Student Engagement

According to The Online Teaching Survival Guide by Judith Boettcher and Rita-Marie Conrad, you should be aware of the following nine points (Note: The following list is borrowed from CEI. You can obtain a copy of the book online via the UB Library). The authors advise that you make sure that:

  1. Activities encourage active interactions that involve course content and personal communication
  2. Materials are authentic or relate to real-life applications
  3. Courses include a variety of media to support learning (i.e.: audio, video, illustrations, simulations, charts, graphs)
  4. Activities engage students in higher-level thinking skills, including critical and creative thinking, analysis and problem solving
  5. Reflection comes up throughout the course
  6. Topics and materials are up-to-date and relevant
  7. There are sufficient opportunities for learners to work collaboratively
  8. Class participation activities (i.e.: discussion boards, wikis, social networks) are used to encourage collaboration
  9. Learners are encouraged to interact with others (fellow classmates, instructor, course guests, etc.) and benefit from their experience and expertise

The Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching also suggests:

  1. Keep videos brief and targeted on learning goals.
  2. Use audio and visual elements to convey appropriate parts of an explanation; make them complementary rather than redundant.
  3. Use signaling to highlight important ideas or concepts.
  4. Use a conversational, enthusiastic style to enhance engagement.
  5. Embed videos in a context of active learning by using guiding questions, interactive elements, or associated homework assignments.

c. Presenting on Camera

Panopto’s “12 Tips for Presenting On-Camera” has some useful tips for the practical aspect of online teaching (PowerPoint)

1. Set up lighting correctly (left: single light, right: two lights), or place a camera in front of a window

Lighting Set-up.

2. Pretend to talk to a friend while recording
3. OR actually talk to a friend while recording
4. Pause between sentences
5. Even if you “mess up,” just keep talking
6. Record in a single take, edit later

d. Other Resources