I learned how to be a classroom teacher by fire. Sure, the college that hired me had a ton of training that I had to do and I had to “audition” for the job by teaching a lesson to the decision makers, but before I stepped into that classroom on the first day of class, I had never actually taught anything before. Ever.
I will never forget what the dean told me before my first class, “Just don’t tell them you are new, or they will eat you alive. Good luck!”
Teaching in a classroom, while it has it’s challenges for sure, also has some distinct advantages to teaching remotely (be that online or via text/ebook).
Managing chaos in a classroom takes some skill and practice but once you have that handled and prove you are bigger and scarier than your students, you really are home free.
In the classroom, you always know if your learners are engaged. If they keep stealing glances at their phones, are doodling out their next tattoo, or are snoring…they are not following your lesson and you’ve done something wrong. If they are nodding, taking notes, and asking questions, you have them in the palm of your hand!
I laugh every time I hear former classroom teacher say that their skills can apply directly to the online space and that it is the same skill set involved in both. I just don’t believe it is true. It becomes even more untrue if their students were children and not adults.
When you are teaching online to adults, especially in a self-study course, it is a totally different ball of wax! You have no EARTHLY IDEA if they are engaged, unless they are telling you that they are! So you need to do everything you can to make sure that your content invites engagement. You need to make sure that you are visible to them. You need to make sure you are using all of the tools in the tackle box to reel them in and keep them. You need to know what you are doing!
In the classroom the worst thing that can happen if you fail to engage your students is that their snoring will disrupt your class–and that’s a bit embarrassing for you and for the Snuffleupagus. If you fail to engage your online adult learner, the worst thing that can happen is that they will tell their entire social media following that your course sucked. That’s a much bigger ouchie.
If you are hiring a consultant to help you create courses, make sure that they know the difference between standing in front of a group of people and keeping them conscious and writing captivating content that really gives value. It is not the same thing.
If you are creating your own online courses, I encourage you to learn as much as you possibly can about how adults learn and what it takes to create successful online learning.
I learned how to build successful online education over the course of the last seven years by building dozens of online lessons, testing them, getting feedback, and tweaking and refining until I got it right and then I went out and got a graduate degree in curriculum and instruction and I read everything that I can find on instructional design and online education trends. I am always learning and getting better at my craft. Always.
Hire a professional, or be that professional. Doesn’t your audience deserve the best?
For more “teaching tidbits” be sure to follow Tracey at http://www.facebook.com/traceyteaches.
Ready to get to work on your own online course? My Outline Your Online Course mini-course is available now! Check it out and let me help you get started on your course NOW! Tell me more about this mini-course!