Effective online pedagogy

Effective online pedagogy

  • Arouse curiosity
  • Activate prior learning
  • Manage the cognitive load
  • Guide student learning
  • Active learning

Good pedagogical techniques are very important online where you have less control over your students and far less feedback from them since you can’t see them.

Start with lead-in questions

  • Start each lesson with one or two topic lead-in questions.
  • These stimulate interest and activate previous knowledge.
  • These can be short discussions (show a visual or pose problem), or you can ask students to analyse in small groups then come back to discuss in main room
  • You can use topical questions, or rhetorical questions, or obvious questions, or completely unexpected questions that seem unrelated to the topic.
  • Using topical questions takes a little longer as they are open-ended.
  • Rhetorical questions, or obvious questions (e.g. “who drinks water?”), or unexpected questions (e.g. “I like to shower. Do you?”) Do not require students to actually respond. However, students will answer mentally, which means that they are engaging with you. And they won’t know where you are going with this opening, so they will listen in order to find out. Then you have a minute or two to show them how this opening question is relevant to (indeed, at the heart of) today’s lesson.
  • Whatever your question, it needs to (a) arouse curiosity, and (b) activate prior learning.

Manage the cognitive load

  • Explicitly teach participants to use response tools (during first class).
  • Provide clear and visible (written) directions along with questions.
  • Offer visual memory supports (e.g. stick the procedure or formula up on the screen.)
  • Avoid extraneous interactions.
  • Gradually progress from demonstrated examples to student practice. Demonstrate, then do several examples where learners complete it (faded worked examples) gradually learners do more and more of the steps and you do fewer.

Activate prior knowledge and consolidate learning

  • Teach to integrate new knowledge with existing knowledge.
  • Use lesson introductions to bring out relevant information from long-term memory.
  • Give brief lesson reviews at the end of each lesson.
  • Visuals can be helpful in this.

Promote knowledge transfer

  • Embed appropriate retrieval hooks or cues in exercises.
  • Use a variety of experiences that let learners try out content in diverse settings.

Guided learning

  • Most students are not good judges of what they do and do not know and what they should study. They need to be told.
  • Pre-tests (which can be quite informal) can show students what they do and don’t know.
  • Recommend helpful websites.
  • Assess learner progress.
  • Use participant responses to ‘read’ audience progress in the absence of body language cues.

Do some activities that let students learn for themselves

  • Sometimes let students experiment, explore and practise with examples to figure out things for themselves, rather than telling them directly.
  • Needs carefully selected examples and or non-examples that illustrate the main concept.
  • Ask students to study examples and derive the definition rules or guidelines.
  • Such lessons take longer to prepare, save them for the most important topics.
  • Wrap up the session and embed student responses into the formal definition.

Increase your ratio of closed to open ended questions

  • Start with a closed question - use polling - and follow with open discussion of reasons for choices.
  • Call on students for responses to open-ended questions and elaborations on closed-ended responses.

Rely on inclusive rather than individual response options

  • Favour responses options that are inclusive rather than individual (e.g. polling and chat over audio) or for small classes – whiteboard.
  • The occasional use of audio (i.e. you speaking) is recommended – this maintains social presence and keeps participants alert as they may be called on any time to contribute.
  • If a student asks a question, ALWAYS paraphrase and repeat the question. Ask or say something to include the other listeners (e.g. “who else had this question?” or “many people ask this question – it’s an important one to deal with …”). This keeps the Q&A relevant to the whole class. If the question is not relevant to the whole class, tell the student that you will talk to them after the class.

Extend the virtual classroom with assignments

  • Assign review and analysis of more complex examples as an offline activity… (include a worksheet for students to complete and email to the instructor, or show to the instructor in the next class).
  • Announce a four-hour session where the second two hours is for independent or group work in, or external to, the virtual classroom session.
  • Provide a place for asynchronous discussion.
  • Assign a leader for each group.