Did you know Henry Ford rolled out the Ford Model T roughly twenty years after the modern automobile was invented?
Wouldn’t you like to get in on an industry that early?
Well, guess what? Right now, as I write this, you are.
Online instructors, trainers, and coaches are pioneers in education.
But before you begin paving the online landscape, you have to stop doing the things that derail the education revolution.
Here are some observations to get you started:
1. Stop getting caught up in buzzwords
Face it. Computers are doubling their power every 18 months and a generation (globally) are using them to redefine everything.
But as you know, most “solutions” are speculation and unpredictable.
So, now what?
Well, before you waste your time becoming a “first adopter”, identify the need a software fills—research and try to understand its application.
If it doesn’t add value, it’s simply a distraction.
2. Stop waiting until the end to give feedback
If you’re giving feedback ONLY at the end of your course, you’re giving zero opportunity for students to improve. I’m serious.
You see, what you should do is have students provide and receive feedback throughout your course—this increases overall satisfaction.
Think of where—in your course—your students can gain insight into their performance (and can still do something about it).
3. Stop evaluating stuff that doesn’t matter
Are you putting too much emphasis on recalling facts?
In my opinion, unless your students will be on Jeopardy, recalling facts may not be necessary.
What should you do? You should evaluate skill integration. Ask yourself, “Do my evaluations represent the reality of the outside world?”
Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.
- Albert Einstein
4. Stop with the lecturing
How about this: instead of having students spend time listening (passively), you prepare your information in advance.
Record your lecture. It’s as simple as that.
Now, if you’re not comfortable in front of a camera, simply make a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation and record it with narration.
And, when your students are together (online or not), you can then collaborate, implement ideas, and brainstorm.
Learn about: The Flipped Classroom
5. Stop using email to answer questions
As you know, emails get lost. Or worse: people think you’re ignoring them when you reply late.
Here’s a tip: build and use an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
You’ll find a beautiful question and answer repository can lead to overall course improvements.
See how Stack Overflow uses an FAQ to set rules for their question and answer site.
Did you know: Many web hosting companies offer free software installs of FAQ’s, Wiki’s, or complete Learning Management Systems. Wow! How about that!
6. Stop taking comment management lightly
Here’s the simple truth: Facebook groups, forums, and even blog communities are only as good as the moderator.
Most students are there to gain your insight. So, remove any chance they get distracted by rudeness or “trolling”.
Explore how to make your forums a positive experience.
7. Stop handing out slides and notes
Make your students an active part of the information gathering and integration process. Why? Because they’ll tune out if you don’t.
You see, teaching shouldn’t be an “information push”.
Anyway, how about letting students collaborate on notes in groups?
Give it a try.
8. Stop blaming your students
You have control over what you do, so make THAT awesome.
I think that if you take the time to develop significant learning experiences, your students will pick up on that—and appreciate it.
Listen and listen closely. Things are changing, so learn to adapt your approach.
Watch: The Generation Y Myth
9. Stop with the theory
Many times students don’t learn anything. You want to know why? It’s simple…
Your delivery is the problem. (Ouch!)
Now, I bet you’ve experienced the teacher who made every subject boring and completely impossible to understand.
Well, don’t be that teacher. Think of ways to present your topic so it sticks in your students mind. Make them care.
Here’s how: Tell a story, get to the point, and use fun and engaging language.
For inspiration (and ideas) watch: Tyler DeWitt: Hey science teachers-make it fun
10. Stop focusing on short term goals
Are your students doing stuff for the sake of passing? If they are, those are short term goals.
Short term goals have no real value in life—like the curriculum that’s immediately forgotten when you leave University.
Question: What should your students be able to do five years after your course?
Well, that question helps you solidify the important stuff.
Now, to understand what I mean on a practical basis, watch Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University. It’s funny.
11. Stop listening to online education naysayers
Believe it or not: there’s people out there who doubt the potential of the internet.
Here’s a true story. My grandmother doesn’t use a computer. Because, as she says, “She’d rather use her head.”
She thinks computers are oversized calculators.
Like my grandmother, naysayers probably had one (early) experience—made up their minds—then gave up.
Well, everything changes. And, so has education online.
Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary.
-Thomas Friedman, May 15, 2012 New York Times
Watch Daphne Koller’s Ted Talk, she’s one of the founders of Coursera, an online education platform. What we’re learning from online education
12. Stop trying to do it all yourself
Know your skill limit—sometimes called your “circle of competence”.
Your business is the delivery (and integration) of your skills.
So, don’t make the tech your business. If you get stuck, outsource the technical work to an oDesk contractor.
Also, get this: besides technical help, consider getting an assistant.
Don’t have the budget for one?
Well then, think of a way your students can help you out—and learn something along the way.
Peer review and peer moderated forums are so underused. And, when they’re structured well, they can take your course to a whole ‘nother level.
Read the Coursera pedagogy (scroll to Peer assessments).
The literature on Peer Review is limited (or incomprehensible). So, I strongly suggest you sign up to a Coursera course and experience the opportunity of Peer Review for yourself.
13. Stop believing online delivery is easy
Yes. Posting an article on your blog is easy. But that’s one-way communication. And guess what? Someone (or Wikipedia) may have already beat you to it.
Remember this: It’s not about the content. Students can find content on their own.
It’s about making students APPLY concepts.
And, feedback is also important.
Give students opportunities to rework and improve on their ideas or prototypes. That’s when real value begins.
14. Stop thinking you’re not ready
Think about this: Online education is new to everyone.
The professor, who has taught in a classroom for the last 30 years, even he is exploring online delivery for the first time.
Simply put: You have the experience to get started.
That said, I suggest you enroll in an online course and be the student. Why would you do this? Well, you’ll experience learning online from a students’ perspective.
You’ll discover what works and what doesn’t. And you can steal some ideas for your own delivery—and have fun while you’re at it.
Now in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
How are you finding online training? Are you transitioning from a face-to-face classroom?
Or are you new to training, and online delivery is a logical strategy you wish to implement?
Make your comment specific. Your stories, ideas and experiences help us all.
Thank you, so very much, for reading and making education better.