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5 things you need to know before creating Online Lessons

edtech online education online learning tech tips Jun 20, 2020

My first teaching job was at Cyber Village Academy and I have worked there for the past 5 years. I don’t know any other school or any other way to teach. That doesn’t mean it was an easy transition for me to be teaching online.

In college, they don’t teach you how to engage with students in an online environment. They don’t help you figure out how to convert lessons into something that can be entirely done asynchronously. I had no idea what I was doing, but now, I am a Pro!

So, I have done the hard learning, but I am going to give you an inside look at the 5 things you need to know before you create your online lessons.

1. Learning isn’t meant to be stagnant!

As teachers, we know that learning should be much more than sit-n-get. Students should be interacting with the content and exploring to discover their own ideas about topics. We do this every day in our classrooms. The same needs to be true for online lessons as well.

I have seen and used online learning programs that people pay money for where students read a large section of text, then take a quiz, and then repeat! This is sit-n-get learning.

We would never ask kids to do this in the classroom every day, so why is it acceptable for online learners?

Online learners can have an experiential, explorative education just like everyone else and they should get that opportunity.

2. It gets easier!

In the beginning, it can be extremely difficult to take what you are doing in the classroom and create online lessons from that, but it gets easier for sure! As you work to create engaging online lessons, you will grow your technology toolbox and become more efficient at creating online lessons. Do not give up when it is hard because it does get easier! Promise!

3. It becomes a mindset shift!

As you work to create online lessons, your whole mindset will change and you will start thinking about lessons in terms of how they can be done online as well as in person. At my hybrid school, many times, I have to do both with any lesson. There is so much to keep in mind while creating online lessons and you really have to get creative with how students will be getting content and how they will be showing you their understanding of the content. Remember that students can show what they know in numerous ways! Be open to all of the options!

4. Think like a student!

This is harder than you think! You can write out all of the directions, step-by-step, even include images to help them, and they will still email you confused about what to do! You need to get into their mindset and go through the steps they will use. 
I have students using sites like FlipGrid (which you can learn all about here) and, when I am creating the assignment directions, I actually go through the motions as if I am a student so that I make sure my directions are correct. 
You also have to remember that middle-schoolers suck at reading directions at all (high-schoolers do to but maybe a little less😜), so the more places you have them, and the more intuitive the assignment is, the better. 
This also means you need to include elements that get them excited and motivated. I like to do this with images and YouTube videos. I am also obsessed with Bitmojis and basically include mine in all possible situations! (It honestly may be a bit out of control!)
Basically, get in touch with the teenager in you and incorporate things that will get them to buy into the learning material and process. 

5. The challenge is the best part!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I love being challenged, and when you first start out with online learning, let me tell you, it is definitely a challenge! I have learned to embrace that challenge and it honestly excites me!
This is the part that is fun! You get to be McGuyver-esque in that you need to find a way to provide students with a quality education, the same quality they would get in person, but in an online setting. Get creative with videos, presentations, external sites, and assignments! Take joy in finding new ways to challenge your kiddos!
What is the scariest part of creating online lessons for you? Let me know in the comments!

Be Good!

Mama Eggers