Teaching in an online environment contains many of the same issues found in the traditional classroom. Teachers must know their content area and be able to adjust curriculum to best meet the needs of their students. Over the past decade technology has grown tremendously and created new delivery methods that can greatly enhance learning for students. This growth in technology has created many new issues that teachers must consider before teaching in an online environment.
Teachers in must have a good working knowledge of their field of study. While this is a basic requirement of teaching any course, the online environment requires that teachers spend time developing good resources that can be accessed online. With the growth of electronic media the ease of putting information on the web has created many resources that must be screened before allowing students to use them. This requires the teacher to do more than a Google search and bookmark a couple of quick resources. They must investigate and research these sources of information to ensure that they are in fact worthwhile and credible. Along with researching and developing a good set of resources, teachers must be technically proficient in using technology to best meet the needs of their students.
As technology continues to grow, teachers must spend time researching new technologies that may enhance student learning. It is important for them to spend time learning about the various mediums such as: SCORMs, WIKI’s, Blogs, Forums, Chat, and Webquests to be able to use them effectively. Like traditional methodologies, online methodologies require time by teachers to study up on the new and latest developments in electronic media going beyond a word processor and PowerPoint to communicate with students.
The two most important issues to consider in teaching in an online environment are communication and organization. Just like traditional classrooms, lesson plans are critical. Getting the message across to students is the ultimate goal. With the limitations of communication with students, how you communicate in an online environment is critical. This requires teachers to be able to communicate effectively using technology and written word. What you say is as important as how it is organized and presented. Chunking information in small pieces and organization are key components of a good online course. Once a student is lost or confused, learning stops and may not start again for some time.
Online education requires teachers to go beyond just the traditional knowledge of their subjects, but to develop good resources, use the latest technologies, communicate and organize information to best meet the needs to their students and promote learning.
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