Better Teaching Online

The Loving Learning Keyboard

Hello all!

I’ve fired up a new topic-area because I’m hearing how many teachers are still struggling with teaching online. So, I’m going to offer up suggestions and how-to tips. For many years, I was a part of a my school’s lead faculty team that evaluated online teaching. I know it can work, but that it requires a different approach.

My goal is to keep you from drowning in work.

Yes, it is time-consuming to set this stuff up. But it can be done incrementally, and there are resources to help. Keep in mind, too, that flipping the classroom, where you require student participation, analysis, and presentations, can take some of the burden off you having to prepare hours of video and lectures.

So my first tip may be pretty obvious, but just in case it hadn’t occurred to you, contact your IT people and see if you can get screen capture software, such as Camtasia, to record what happens in your classroom. It’s possible to then post this in password protected spaces. This helps with make-up work for students who are absent, and you can also edit this stuff up, as time permits, to have material you can then use in later semesters.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to get on top of captioning the videos so that they are ADA friendly. 🙂 It’s even possible to enlist help, hiring it out on the cheap if need be from gig-websites such as to generate transcripts for students who need that resource. Your school may cover this, but even if they don’t, you can have material that you own and can use in ways that pay back your outlay.

Now I’ll admit that I enjoy writing and making videos, but it can be time-consuming, and when you’re first getting going, you need to team up with others, share material, and use what’s readily available. No need to re-invent the wheel. In time, you can add your own stamp to things.

To save you time, I’ll label and tag things here so you can skip those challenges you’ve already figured out. But in the rush of conversion, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the obvious. It’s also possible that you have expertise we’d all like to hear, and I’ll share that out, too.

My online teaching experience spans back more than 20 years. I’m a communications teacher with more than 30 years experience, including work in deadline-journalism, TV, mass media, and multi-media. I’ve also run my own video production business, and my experience with technology goes back to when I was 15 and got a ham radio license. I’ve taught online since the days of Use-Net, electronic BBSes, and FIDO-Net mail tossers. I also was a part of the team that vetted and selected Canvas as the Learning Management System–LMS–for the California Community College system. I’ve also taught in Web CT and others that have long since gone away. I used Moodle, and even set up my own server, because my school was using a system that had fewer features and was very user-unfriendly. So, I have worked both with curriculum design and assessing and implementing technology.

But more than all this, I think it can be fun to teach online. I really mean this. Both students and teachers can benefit from using those tools that work best for your particular curriculum and class configuration. If nothing else, I want to help you get through this.

Many people helped me be a better teacher, and I was honored to be selected at my school as “Educator of the Year.”

My sincere desire is that this material gives you hope, lets you know you are not alone, and serves as a life-line when you are running out of ideas.

Please drop me a line at to let me know what you think or offer your own suggestions. I’ll be sure to credit you. You can also find me on Facebook at Robb Lightfoot’s author page

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