5 Ways Institutions Planned and Implemented Online Classes (and What Work Really Well)

While online classes are technically nothing new, many higher education institutions had to transition a significant portion of their courses with little notice due to COVID-19. As a result, many colleges and universities didn’t have much time for planning.

However, most institutions were able to make the shift reasonably successfully, even with time constraints. Here’s a look at five approaches that worked, ensuring the online learning experience was robust, effective, and efficient.

Five Tips to Create an Effective Online Learning Experience

1. Creating an Upgraded Syllabus

While most college courses have a syllabus, the thoroughness of that document is essential for online learning. Reaching out for additional information can be challenging for remote learners, as they aren’t in a physical classroom with their professor or fellow students.

Ensuring that every syllabus included a significant amount of detail for each assignment – including a thorough description and exact deadline – led to better outcomes. Similarly, having set exam schedules and outlining other expectations, such as participation rates, allowed students to anticipate what they need to do to excel, essentially setting them up for success.

2. Integrating Microlearning

Remaining engaged when learning online can be challenging. Video-based lectures, either live or prerecorded, don’t provide much space for interaction, and it can be difficult for students to remain focused. Presentation-style coursework can also struggle in this arena, particularly if the materials aren’t presented in a way that encourages or supports greater concentration.

In order to overcome some of these issues, certain institutions embraced microlearning. Lessons were divided into highly focused modules, making each mini experience incredibly digestible. Plus, it incorporates opportunities to pause, giving students a chance to recenter between topics.

3. The Cohort Model

Social opportunities can be lacking for online learners. With the Cohort Model, students are grouped together, allowing them to maintain similar class schedules and form a community as they pursue their degrees. This promotes a deeper social connection through shared experience and interest, creating opportunities for students to work together and get to know one another as they progress.

4. Adding Active Participation

As mentioned above, engagement can be challenging when students are learning online. To boost engagement, planning for active participation opportunities makes a difference.

Precisely how this unfolds can vary depending on the course’s format. In some cases, this means giving students a chance to speak during live video lectures. Posing questions to students, either for verbal responses or using technology-based alternatives like live polling, can be effective, as well.

For virtual coursework, making the modules interactive is often ideal. Additionally, supplementing the classes with online discussion boards, social media groups, or other communication options is beneficial.

5. Augmenting Instructor Availability

Most college professors maintain office hours when teaching in person. However, for students to have the best chance at success, this concept has to be transitioned to the online model. Instructor accessibility is essential, ensuring students can reach out and get critical support.

Some of the most successful transitions included an approach similar to office hours. Students can make appointments to engage with professors through video conferencing, mimicking the in-person experience. Supplementing that with email, social media, and other written mechanisms creates opportunities outside of those appointment times, ensuring students also have an option available.

Do You Need to Plan and Implement Online Classes?

If you need support from L&D experts to plan and implement online classes, Clarity Consultants is here. Clarity has over a quarter of a century of experience, and we have the expertise you need to successfully launch an online learning program. Plus, Clarity can be your candidate search allies, ensuring you can quickly find the talent you need.

If you are seeking stellar L&D professionals, Clarity Consultants can help. Contact us today.

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