Teaching Online… our new reality

This week has been so surreal as I watched the world come to a screeching halt in order to control this virus, my UMass Boston colleagues raced to get ready during our spring break to put their material online.

Luckily all institutions and school districts have great e-learning teams that are helping. Those people are also working hard and a lot of hours to help educators upload their material and are getting slammed because there are more teachers than instructional designers.

So, since I have been teaching online for over 10 years at this point and feel at home on Blackboard, I am ready to transition to online teaching and had very little to do this week to prepare for when our courses start up again. As a result, I offered my assistance to colleagues and my son’s teachers in case they needed anything. Such as talk through their ideas and answer any questions they might have as teaching online can be overwhelming and a huge amount of working when you have never taken on such an endeavor before. Also, having someone to talk to when trying to change the way you work can be comforting and as well as a lot of help when brainstorming ideas.

Then I was thinking what advice can I give people I can talk to via zoom, skype, what’s app. So here are my suggestions:

For starters, educators that are new to online teaching, please know that there is no way you can upload all of your material for the rest of the semester or year online within one week. At least not the correct way. The reason I say this is because uploading the material you were supposed to use on campus or in a classroom will not necessarily be the best way to teach online. Teaching online is a whole different animal and it is taught very differently. A lot of planning and thought goes into designing an online course and one week is not enough time to do everything.

Second, the other reason you should not upload all of your material at once is you need to wait to see how students are going to react to the way you designed the course. You don’t want to have done all of this work only to have to rearrange or delete materials as you begin to receive angry and frustrated emails from your students.

Third, work in chucks: Put up material for a few days. Then upload material for the whole week and so on.

Fourth, make it user or student-friendly i.e. listen to your students and their needs. I say this because students of all ages get easily frustrated and upset, then they shut down and don’t want to do the work.

Fifth, use interactive material to keep students engaged you can’t have them read a chapter from the textbook or a long article at home and expect them to feel engaged. Remember you are not with them in the classroom so there is no in-class or small group discussion.

Sixth, use as much material as you can that someone else has created because at this point there is no time to learn new software on how to create e-learning videos or interactive exercises.

Sixth, include material that will keep your students engaged. Such as videos, interactive exercises, podcasts, audiobooks, interactive books especially for younger children as well as utilizing the discussion threads, blogs that are available in LMS’s such as Blackboard, Moodle, and, google classroom.

Seventh, make sure to start the week on the same day and all of the homework must be due on the same day every week as it is difficult for students that are taking multiple classes/courses to keep track of constantly changing deadlines. For example, my students know that all homework is due on Friday and it will not for the whole semester, so they never forget to submit their homework.

Eight, remember to be patient and that almost all of the students especially K-12 are not used to being online taking classes so they will also be having a difficult time adjusting to not going to school having to go to an iPad or a computer to keep up with their classwork.

I will also create a page on my blog with resources with links and books I think can be helpful as we move forward.

If you do have questions for me feel free to post them here.



Copyright © 2020 TheAdventuresofanOnlineInstructor.com


Ithaca Educational Solutions

I know I have not been blogging for a while, but I have been really busy working on a new project that took up a large part of my time. So, between my new project, teaching, and raising a young child blogging fell to the side along with other fun activities, but now that it is complete I am planning to go back to blogging especially since I will be working from home until the end of the semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic giving me more time to reflect and write about my teaching.

I realize that it is a strange time to be announcing the beginning of my new endeavor since we are all preoccupied with the CONVID-19 pandemic, but I have been working on it for such a long time and it is finally ready so I don’t want to wait. I think that if we all stay positive and focused on life after the pandemic things should get back to normal sooner rather than later. It is also a way to divert my attention from the fact that our lives will forever change and 2020 will be known as the year of the coronavirus pandemic. For me I want 2020 to remind me of the year Ithaca began.

I named my website Ithaca because I wanted people that visit my site to feel that they are beginning a learning journey. To quote from Cavafy’s Ithaka poem “As you set out for Ithaka, hope your road is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery.” And that is what I want people to experience on my site. I know that it is a lofty goal but that is what I am hoping for.

My site’s full name is Ithaca Educational Solutions and it was born from my capstone project i.e. thesis that I wrote 7 years ago while I was completing my master’s degree in Instructional Design at the University of Massachusetts Boston. At the time I did not know that I would create a site that would house so much more than the material that I used in my project. The reason this project began was that I uploaded my capstone project to academia.edu and many would come and follow me and ask me to create a course so they can learn the material I had designed. So, after a lot of requests, I decided to create a course but then it became apparent that it could not be taught at the university, as a result, I come up with something more than just a course and just like that the journey of creating Ithaca began.

Now that I have completed it, I am ready to share Ithaca with you and the world. Ithaca Educational Solutions is me and all of the knowledge and experience I have gained throughout the last 25 years of my teaching journey. It is dedicated to all things business writing and business English.

I hope you go visit Ithaca Educational Solutions and take a look around: https://www.ithacaedu.net/

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Copyright © 2020 TheAdventuresofanOnlineInstructor.com