ELearning Starter Pack: Everything universities need for online teaching

Educational institutions across the globe are rapidly transitioning to online learning in order to protect their students, staff, and community. However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional education, online learning was a fast rising trend. Now, with millions of students receiving instruction remotely, it is more important than ever to have the right systems in place to support eLearning. 

 Effective eLearning offers students accessibility and convenience, and also enables them to learn concepts at their own pace. They can attend courses from anywhere in the world. All they need is a laptop/smartphone and a stable internet connection. 

Universities across the world are increasingly building their online course repositories to offer an alternative to traditional classroom teaching. This has a host of benefits. It reduces the administration’s dependence on a brick and mortar campus. It also enables professors away for the term to record lectures and upload them online. Moreover, in times of emergencies, such as the current time, universities can ensure uninterrupted teaching by going online. 

By relying solely on traditional teaching methods, educational institutions may not be optimizing on resources. To avoid this, every university should consider an eLearning program. 

But launching a new setup can be intimidating. This is why we’ve worked on this starter pack to help you get started right. 

1. Hardware recommendations

online teaching via devices

First and foremost, online teaching requires dependable hardware. At the very basic level, you’ll need your laptop. Here are the essentials for advanced needs:

1.1 Live sessions

You can teach live classes with your laptop’s in-built webcam and microphone. But if  you want to take it up a notch, look for the following:

  • High resolution streaming: Invest in a 720p or 1080p webcam. 
  • Crisp sound: Most webcams sport a microphone. If you’re looking for better sound, get  a high quality Lavalier microphone. These can be conveniently clipped to your shirt and record high quality, low distortion sound.

1.2. Pre-recorded sessions

Pre-recorded sessions often have higher production costs. These have greater visibility and gain more traction. Some universities may even make them free and accessible to the general public. This helps increase your university’s visibility. 

This is why you should invest in top quality hardware for recordings. Create high quality, captivating videos to improve engagement with the following: 

  1. High resolution video: While your webcam may be of adequate quality, it’s worthwhile investing in high resolution camera gear to enhance lecture quality.
  2. Appropriate Lighting: Good lightning makes it easier to engage with the tutor and also helps reduce the strain on the viewer’s eyes.
  3. Crisp audio: Again, invest in a designated microphone.

2. Software recommendations

2.1. Live sessions

Make your live sessions resemble real-life teaching with:

  • Group sessions: Get a reliable video-conferencing application. Some students require greater processing time. Aid them by uploading class recordings. These applications also enable recording of ongoing sessions.
  • Real-time notes: Whiteboard software is especially useful for formulae-intensive disciplines like mathematics and sciences. 
  • Accompanying slide decks: Here are some useful tips for making stellar presentations.

2.2. Pre-recorded sessions

There’s a lot that you can do with pre-recorded sessions in terms of software. Since these don’t take place in real-time, you can experiment with various tools and see what type of software works for your method of teaching. Here are the basics:

  • Screen recording: Record any notes or slides you share with a screen capture application. 
  • Video editing: Once you’re done recording, you’ll have to trim and process your lesson.
  • Accompanying slide decks: Here are some useful tips for making stellar presentations.

3. Online class guidelines to consider for live sessions

online teaching

Moving lessons from the classroom to the internet isn’t always simple. In-person teaching is engaging and establishes discipline amongst audiences. Some students may find it harder to focus unsupervised. 

Here’s how you can bridge the gap between the two teaching models:

3.1. Clearly outline class rules and regulations

Class regulations are going to be critical in transitioning to online teaching. These will help ensure discipline and class decorum so you can teach effectively and make the most of your time with your students. 

Clearly inform students when they should be expected to come online. Automate meeting reminders and send a link prior to every session so students always make it to class. 

In addition to this, indicate how students should be interacting with the conferencing software. Should everyone mute their microphones? You can set time brackets for questions. Students will unmute their microphones during these for discussion. Owing to time constraints, you may also have to set an upper limit for questions you can take. 

3.2. Test your technology prior to class

Prior to every session, spend about 20 minutes testing all your hardware and software. Close applications that you aren’t using so your machine works smoothly during the session. Test your camera and audio. You should always start off sessions by asking students whether they can clearly hear you and if there’s any interference on the line. 

Sit in a quiet, well-lit area so your learners can see you clearly. This has a significant impact. 

3.3. Provide reference material

To maximize productivity, offer students optional pre and post session readings that will help enhance the learning process. Record sessions and then post them online so students have something to go back to if they didn’t understand a concept. Set up online office hours so they can discuss problem areas with you in a more concentrated manner. Reinforce learning whenever you can.

3.4. Make classes engaging

When students are physically away from the classroom, they can feel detached from the learning process. Keeping them engaged is an arduous task. Make it easy by asking questions and regularly taking the pulse on your classroom. Is everyone on the same page? Was a particular part of the lecture difficult to comprehend? Repeat this every 15 minutes so students get the opportunity to stop and identify breaks in their understanding. 

You can allow students to message in their questions. Real-time feedback helps teachers improvise their lessons as per student requirements. Include practice exercises that learners can solve with you so they pay attention and test their understanding.

3.5. Set up a grading criteria

Online grading is tricky so you need to spend some time defining it. Flesh out the grading components and allocate weightage to each. Will attendance carry weight? Can you take online exams? If you have the time, create multiple exam variants to reduce the chances of students collaborating on them.

You can also stick to a pass/fail grading policy. Most online teachers will swear by this as it reduces grading bias and helps students focus on learning rather than gaming testing instruments – much easier to do in a remote setting.

Begin setting up your online teaching framework today

If you’re waiting for the “right” time to venture into eLearning, the time is now. The way we consume information is changing as technology permeates into more and more facets of our lives. This makes it important to make education available on the internet where it’s easier to consume and can be accessed any time of the day. 

Invest in setting up your eLearning repository with the right tools and start today!

EZOfficeInventory is an education tracking application that enables universities to track and report on all their equipment online. Begin online teaching right away with software that manages all your devices. Sign up for a free 15-day trial today – no credit card required!

Don't forget to share this post!