Until the pandemic, the use of technology was restricted in the academic sphere. Even when used, technology served merely as an extension to the traditional methods of teaching and rarely did it find its use beyond PowerPoint presentations, overhead projectors or Smartboards.
The pandemic changed everything. It forced us to relook and redefine the role of technology in leading the global educational transformation and to make education more impactful and powerful in today’s world.
If it were not for technology and internet, schools would’ve been forced shut during the ongoing COVID pandemic, causing children all across the planet to lose two precious years of their school and college lives.
After more than a year, the world is still in the thick of the pandemic with no end in sight. Experts believe that the effects of the pandemic will continue to linger on and there may be lockdowns in different parts of the world sporadically from time to time.
While online mode of teaching and learning is still in its nascent stages, teachers are continually adapting to it. You’ve done a commendable job of learning to use technology to ensure uninterrupted teaching despite their lack of familiarity with this space.
So, what’s the way forward? The change that was accelerated due to the pandemic will not be reversed. Technology is here to stay and educational and academic institutes around the world have realized this.
Digital literacy among teachers is no longer the goal. Digital competence and excellence is. Teachers should now be trained for and supported to make full use of the power of modern technology to maximise learning impact.
In this post, we’ll explore how to plan lessons effectively when teaching online.
What’s the goal for the teacher?
Before planning a lesson or preparing oneself to teach, a teacher should begin with the following 3 goals.
- Connect the lesson with real life in a digital-first world
- Prepare students to be active participants of global learning ecosystem
- Design, develop and assess lesson plans to ensure coherence and synergy between research, pedagogy and lesson delivery
Great teachers train themselves to look beyond the boundaries of their classrooms and prepare students for larger and more meaningful goals through each class. They focus on enabling in students the ability to think critically, intuitively and reflectively across all disciplines and subjects.
Effective lesson planning techniques for online teaching
First, let’s understand what lesson planning is. Lesson plan is the blueprint that teachers use to deliver a lesson. It includes 3 core components:
- Lesson objective
- Plan to achieve the objective
- How to measure if the objective was reached
Here are some techniques for effective lesson planning when teaching online
1. Set Learning Objectives
Set learning objective for every class. You may or may not be able to cover the entire lesson in each class, but for every class you should set clear learning goals that the students should be able to achieve by the end of the class. This will help you stay on course as well as give students a vivid sense of achievement.
Make sure students see this objective on their screen at the start of the lesson so they know what they need to look forward to and strive to achieve in the class. This will enable them to ask relevant questions during the class.
Want to know more about how to set learning objectives? Check our latest course iTeach 101 where this is extensively covered along with other essential ingredients of becoming a great teacher.
2. Plan the introduction – Make it relatable!
Teachers should spend a good amount of time in planning the introduction to the lesson or class. Make the introduction exciting, something the students could instantly relate to, use practical scenarios or build over their existing knowledge. You can also adopt the approach of storytelling to build curiosity and eagerness in students about the class.
3. Tie the objective with practical application
One of the biggest reasons why students feel disengaged and disinterested in class is because they fail to grasp the connection between what’s being taught and how it will help them in life. It’s the teacher’s job to make this connection absolutely clear.
Always specify the purpose behind every lesson. At times, this purpose is not as clear or evident, in which cases, teachers should understand the underlying ideas behind these lessons and convey the same to students from a practical standpoint.
4. Add visual appeal
In online classes, teachers have to sit in one location facing the camera so there’s no scope of physical movement or even hand gestures. Therefore, to make the lessons attractive, teachers should look for alternatives. Use a lot of visuals — videos, graphics and demonstrations wherever possible. Let your students see and learn. That’ll help faster absorption and longer retention.
5. Build engagement through activity
Well, online classes have their limitations. However, they also have many advantages. When planning lessons, look for opportunities for student involvement. For example, online tools such as real time quizzes, polls, student presentations, sharing media files for collaborative review and virtual discussions are great for engaging students. This is not as easy to do in offline or in-person classes.
6. Segment the lessons
Not every lesson can be wrapped up in a single class. When planning lessons, think seriously about the overload of information. Plan your lessons in a sequential logic over a few numbers of classes, so that it’s easy to absorb without overwhelming students with information. Another important factor here is to break down complex topics into small units of bite-sized information that are easy to understand.
7. Use of online tools
Here are some online tools for teachers for lesson planning.
Graphic organizers – Graphic organisers or knowledge map or concept map or story map offers teachers an easy way of visually representing complex ideas, terms and their relationships with each other. They make information easier to comprehend. Teachers can also invite students to participate in create knowledge maps to gauge their understanding. They could also be used for note taking and assignments. Some of the popular forms are Persuasion maps, Story map, Sequence chart c.
Online whiteboard – Teachers love to use the blackboards in classrooms. Why should online teaching not provide for that? Online whiteboards allow teachers to explain concepts to students exactly the way they would have in an offline class. Except that, there won’t be any chalk dust! 🙂
Presentation tools – Prezi, Canva, Focusky are some of examples of presentation tools that teachers can use to create amazing visual experience for their students.
Screen recordings – Use screen recordings of you teaching or explaining certain concepts or create explainer videos with your voice overs that students can refer to post class. Use resources available online to help students gain maximum understanding of the lesson.
8. Check and measure student understanding
At the end of each class or lesson, make plans on how to test the student understanding. Tests, assessments and assignments are an important part of your lesson plan. They should test students against the learning objective listed at the beginning of the lesson plan.
9. Added References
Internet offers incredible free and paid resources for teachers to share with students to develop and nurture fundamental and conceptual understanding. Here are some of the places where you’ll find reliable resources online.
- YouTube Learning
- BBC Bitesize
- International Children’s Digital Library
- Project Gutenberg
- MIT K-12
- Netflix Educational Documentaries
- National Geographic Education
10. Discussion Threads
To keep the student interest in lessons ongoing, start discussion thread where you can keep posting information related to the corresponding lesson and encourage students to do the same. This will develop their ability to study collaboratively, and also discuss and share their ideas better.
These were some of the lesson planning techniques that teachers can benefit from when teaching online. If you follow techniques other than those listed here, do list them in the comments so other teachers could also benefit from them.