COVID-19 and becoming an Online Educator in 3 (not so) Easy Steps

Our already fast-changing world seems to be moving even more quickly in the past few weeks. As health authorities in Canada and around the world implement sweeping measures to curb the spread of COVID-19,  schools and businesses are scrambling to adapt to the new realities of delivering knowledge to their students, clients, and staff.

At Onlea, we’ve been hearing from a lot of people with similar questions; “How do I get my lectures or my classroom work online for next week if I need to?”  In fact, our Director of Client Productions spoke with the CBC about this very subject on the March 12th broadcast of Radioactive.

This is a complex question and unfortunately, there aren’t any easy answers. But we wanted to share a few tips and resources to help teachers and learners get the most out of, what for many of them, may be their first foray into online learning.

The good news is that many institutions, schools, and businesses already have online learning tools and materials. Instructors have the ability to, at the very least, upload the content they already have prepared to a place where their students can access it.

Preparing new content, or making existing material engaging and easy for learners to recall is a slightly tougher task, but here are 3 golden rules that can help an instructor make their online teaching better.

The 3(ish) Golden Rules of Online Teaching

  1. Interactivity: This doesn’t need to mean anything super high tech. Interactivity in its most distilled meaning is simply having the learner actually interact with the material in some way every few moments. It perks up their eyes and brain, makes them move a little and helps to keep them engaged. So insert requests to type some feedback, or move to a separate exercise for a few minutes, or change the medium the lesson is delivered via.
  2. Brevity: When delivering classes online, instructors usually aren’t able to see and hear learner reactions or keep tabs on who’s fallen asleep or begun goofing around. The instructor needs to create alternatives to those interactions, and one of the easiest, most effective ways to do that is to break content up into smaller chunks. When Onlea is working with subject matter experts to take their lecture material from the classroom to the online space, we’ll often break a 60 minute lecture up into lost of smaller lessons that are usually no longer than 10 minutes each. It’s much easier and more effective than asking learners to digest an entire hour’s worth of knowledge at once.
  3. Gamification/Multimodality:  These sound like buzzwords, but what they boil down to is presenting content in ways that are engaging to learners, and creating forward momentum that helps them stick with the material.

Multimodal Learning is simply the acknowledgement that people learn in different ways. For example, some learners love to read while others take in information better when listening, so give them the lesson both ways.

Gamification is providing a system of rewards or validations for learners to propel them from lesson to lesson. This can be as simple as adding a line at the end of a section summarizing what the learner has achieved and how that relates to what they’re going to learn in the next lesson. Think of it like the “previously on” and “coming up next” when bingeing a show on Netflix.

These 3(ish) rules are not the entirety of online learning but they’re good things to think about.  

Each is a topic until itself, and there’s lots to consider. Below are links to a few good articles and resources that can help instructors in both K-12 or Post Secondary environments get their coursework online a little more quickly and hopefully a little more effectively.

Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’ve got specific questions about your courses or if you need some help. We truly believe that learning is for everyone, and will  do our best to assist you and your learners.


Creating an Online Classroom from the Stanford Online Highschool

5 Innovative Techniques for Creating Online Video Lectures from Coursera

Finding the Right Tool for the Job from Onlea

Finally, this blog post from Onlea’s President Adriana Lopez Forero takes a deeper dive into different learning modalities and tools to create engagement

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Jeff Woodward

Jeff Woodward

Creative Director at Onlea