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How to Write Directions for Students in the Online Class

May 04, 2021
How to write directions for online assignments

 If you want to learn about writing directions for synchronous or live lessons, check out my Why Telling Students the Directions isn’t Enough! (and what you can do about it) blog post here!

I will admit that my students are on their phones all the time and they can navigate the internet so easily. But they are sometimes a bit dense when it comes to following, or even reading, directions. That is why teacher instructions for students can be so critical. 

At my school, we do asynchronous assignments on Thursdays and Fridays, so basically, the students are learning on their own. This means I really need to give them everything they need to do it on their own. That is why writing great directions is so important.

How to Write Directions for Online Assignments

 Step #1

Go through the process yourself! If you are asking students to create an account on a new site, you should go through the process, from the students’ perspective, so that you can understand what they will see and write directions that make sense with what they see. 

Step #2

Be descriptive. Use as much detail as you can and use language that makes sense with what they should do like “Click” instead of “go-to” and “Drag and Drop” instead of “place” or “put.” This will help deal with confusion before it even starts. 

Step #3

Include screenshots when it makes sense. I like to take a quick screenshot of the button that I am asking them to click on or the place they should be typing. A great way to do this on a PC is to hit the Windows Key, the Shift Key, and the “S” Key all at the same time and you can get a screenshot of a small portion of the screen rather than the whole screen. Or you can take a screenshot of the whole screen and crop it down to the part you want to show the students. 

Step #4

Go through it with them when you can. The best method is to demo it and have them do it along with you, but that isn’t always possible. You could also create a video of the directions so students understand even more what they should be doing when you aren’t there to walk them through it. 

When writing directions for your students, I always err on the side of giving them more information. I know a giant list of directions can be intimidating but I would rather they have more information so they aren’t confused. 

If you want to learn more about designing Online lessons, get signed up for the FREE Online Lesson Design Email Challenge here and you will have an awesome, ready-to-go online lesson by the end of the week!