Teaching Online

First Time Teaching Online

Teaching online Intro

Having worked with instructors for the past 10 years or so, teaching them how to teach online, I have always felt it is a good way to reach a large number of people at a low cost, because travel is not required, and improved convenience. But with the current situation of the Coronavirus many instructors who are used to teaching in person suddenly are being required to teach online.

Teaching online is not an especially difficult endeavour, it just takes a bit of a modification from teaching in residence. This and the next few articles will be going over steps to transition from teaching in residence to online.

I’m introducing one concept per article not so I can get more hits on my site, but because each step will have some homework which is where the real learning is being done.

Learn the Software

Imagine walking into a classroom and someone had rearranged the seating so the instructor is in the center of the room vs. the front, that would be disorienting. The teacher needs to be comfortable in the classroom space. This is the same for online teaching as it is for in-person.

Before your first day of an online class you need to be comfortable with the software you are using. To do this it’s a good idea to create a session and invite your best friend, your spouse, or another instructor so you can get comfortable with the space.

  • Make sure you have the right hardware and software to join the session.
  • Make sure the speakers and microphone work and you can hear your friend, and them you.
  • Make sure you can you see your friend’s video and that person can see yours.
  • Figure out how to start and stop screen sharing with others in the session. Show some of your lesson material to your friend. Flip through the slides, switch between several different applications, stop and restart sharing.
  • Pull up the whiteboard and draw on it a bit, check out all of the different whiteboard tools, more on this later.
  • Check out the text chat tool, make sure you can see what your friend has typed in the chat and that person can see your chat.
  • Play with the student feedback tools such as
    • What it looks like when students raise their hand
    • Is there a polling tool you can use?
    • Are there any other tools to get student’s feedback?
  • if you are planning on using breakout rooms, understand how to set those up, distribute students, and return everyone to the main room.
  • Start thinking about how you teach and what tools you think you will use


Join at least 2 or 3 sessions where you can play with the tool. Developing muscle memory for many of the tasks will be key to being comfortable in the online classroom because you won’t have to stop and think, it will just be natural, just like it is in the physical classroom.


There are a handful of tools out there for teaching online, I’d be interested in what tool you use and what you like/dislike about it, please leave your comment below. In this critical time, most schools are probably not planning on changing their tool, but with the increased interest there may be a surge of online class adoption after the crisis subsides.


My next article i’ll talk about creating a space you can use to teach online.

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