Once you have set aside the time and have the energy to dig in and create or improve your online course(s)…don’t do it alone. Ask for help. Take advantage of the many resources and support teams within your institution. If need be, look for help from others that may be outside of your institution. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Mentor – Look for an individual who has some experience teaching online. This doesn’t need to be a formal mentor relationship, just someone who’s been down that path already who can share some words of wisdom. Teaching online courses is a skill that is unique from teaching classes in person. Take your time and find someone who is comfortable teaching online and learn from their experience. Be selective and look for someone who is thriving and willing to share not only their successes but some of their failures.
Colleagues – Remember you’re not the only one trying to create an excellent experience for your students. Look to your colleagues who are also trying to be excellent online teachers. A great way to discover new strategies and ideas is to interact with those who are also wrestling with the same teaching issues. If you have regular meetings with your colleagues you might consider adding a brief 5 to 10 minutes Block of time to simply share a tip or strategy related to online teaching. Another strategy that many faculty find useful is the idea of a shared reading experience or a book club. Other faculty have pursued workshops, faculty showcases, and conferences to learn more about what other faculty are doing within online education. The bottom line here is to commit to learning and learning and other faculty members.
Instructional Designer – While you are the expert in your field you might consider seeking help from an instructional designer or a learning designer. Individuals that work in these roles are experts in effective online teaching and learning. This relationship could consist of a conversation over a cup of coffee, a 15-minute conversation to brainstorm new ideas or a longer meeting(s) that include a complete course design or redesign. Designers can significantly improve your experience and enjoyment with online teaching. Your students will be glad that you invested the time and energy.
Teaching online for the first time may feel overwhelming. Start with the basics and take your time. Once you have that first course completed it’s time to improve. Start with small things to improve upon… pick just one thing. When you’ve completed that first thing, simply move on to the next. Experienced online faculty will tell you that your course is never perfect. Take your time and commit to constant revisions. Seek new and better ideas…always!