• This Guide to Online Learning is intended to support those new to teaching online 

    Online learning is characterized by a structured learning environment, to enhance and expand educational opportunities, providing instruction that is teacher-led, and may be synchronous (communication in which participants interact in the same time space such as email, or online discussion forums).  

    What are the similarities between face-to-face and online teaching? 

    • You are an expert in your field.
    • You build relationships with students and create a learning community.
    • You evaluate student performance through written assignments and assessments.
    • You create supplemental resources for your students’ needs.
    • You seek to connect classroom lessons with the real world.

    What are the differences between face-to-face and online teaching? 

    • Students will contact you individually.
    • You develop relationships in a different way.
    • There are more opportunities for individualization.
    • Students will communicate with you and work on their courses at all hours.
    • Students may begin the course at different times of the calendar year and not progress through the course all together at the same time, depending on the online learning program model.
    • Students may have greater discretion concerning the order in which they complete their lessons so may skip around in online content and need to be redirected to go back and complete tasks, depending on the online learning program model.
    • You may not physically see your students. Unless you use video conferencing, for example, communication will be primarily via email, the learning management system (LMS) message system, graded feedback, phone, texting, etc.

    Your Online Work Environment 

    Being efficient in managing your time when working online may be the key to balancing your work and personal life. Prepare to be physically, digitally, and mentally organized so that you are not only efficient, but can enjoy that balance between work life and home life. Begin by securing a workspace conducive to being a productive instructor. 

    • Maintain a routine
    • Set a schedule
    • Establish mental goals for the day
    • Get dressed for work 

    Keep classroom rules positive, short, and to the point. 

    1. Participate Enthusiastically
    2. Work to the Best of Your Ability
    3. Be Honest and Let Your Personality Shine 
    4. Use Encouraging and Positive Language 
    5. Ask Questions and Communicate Effectively.

    Tips for Organizing Your Physical Workspace 

    Tips for choosing your location: 

    • Set up a space that is separate from your family life and area.
    • Choose a closed off space that will allow for quiet and privacy.
    • Consider a door with a lock or a “do not disturb” sign if you live with others.

    Organizing Your Digital Space 

    • Clear your virtual desktop. Get all those icons off the startup menu that makes your system run slower.
    • Scan paper documents, when possible, and place them in folders.
    • Use clear file names so you can easily retrieve them later. Alphabetize file names and be consistent in your filing system.
    • Get the folders for all the classes you teach set up and organized as soon as possible.
    • Archive emails in folders labeled with the course name and term. 
    • Create shortcuts on your desktop for programs, folders, and websites you use frequently.
    • Create bookmarks for common internet sites.
    • Use a calendar with deadlines and note priorities.

    Organizing Your Email 

    Email will likely be the primary way you communicate with your students, their mentors, and parents/guardians. You likely already have years of experience using email, but using it  

    as the primary means of communication for online instruction requires an organizational and workflow strategy conducive to this type of work. The better you are able to plan and stick to a solid email management strategy early on, the better you will be able to stay engaged with students and others on a daily basis. This is critical to establishing and maintaining good relationships with all those involved. 

    Organizing Your Calendar 

    In addition to email management, schedule management is another tremendously important skill for an online teacher in order to stay in sync with everyone in your virtual environment. Scheduling and coordinating time to meet with your students, mentors, and colleagues and blocking out appropriate time to attend to your instructional duties all take place within your calendar. When used effectively, your calendar can be one of your best allies in making sure you stay on top of your schedule.  

    Maintain a Healthy Life Balance and Manage Your Workload