TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS   I   5minute read   I   27 June 2018

HOW CAN TEACHERS INCREASE THEIR SUCCESS

IN HANDLING ONLINE COURSES?

By Samuel Hudson and Maria Pineda

As the inclusion of eLearning in all levels of formal and non-formal education continues to grow in Southeast Asia, there has been a sharp increase in the use of Learning Management Systems (LMS) to manage online, face to face and blended-learning classrooms. LMS is a software application that enables instructors to create, manage, and deliver eLearning courses and materials to students while providing them with an online class setting to learn and interact and in a collaborative environment. Instructors using LMS upload their course materials including videos, presentations, and live web content to a central location that students can access from anywhere they have an internet connection. Indeed, LMS provides instructors with a powerful tool to enhance the educational experience of learners.

Since 2014, SEAMEO RETRAC has used its own customized LMS called Tech4Teach. Tech4teach offers courses on English Language Teaching (ELT), English Teaching Methodologies (ETM) and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to enable Vietnamese English teachers meet the goals of Vietnam’s National Foreign Languages 2020 Project. Included in Tech4Teach’s features are usage and application of web tools for ELT, creation of ELT materials, use of multimedia in ELT, and acquire experiences on online interactions through discussion forums, online chats, file sharing functions, email, and access to numerous online resources and references.

Despite the advantages offered by LMS, many instructors struggle to harness their full potential and hold the attention of students while delivering online content. To address these issues, SEAMEO RETRAC reached out to four experts in the field with an online survey designed to gather advice on course delivery and probe the importance of understanding student perspectives. Featured in this article are brief biographies of four education experts as well as excerpts from their answers to SEAMEO RETRAC’s online survey:

Jessie Png: Assistant Dean of Practicum and Senior Lecturer at the National Institute of Education in Singapore

Q. What is your best piece of advice for teachers looking to increase their success rate with teaching/handling online courses?

A. The tasks assigned to the students should be useful/meaningful for them in order for them to want to participate in the tasks.

Q. Do you think it is necessary for the online teacher to be a student of an online course before teaching/facilitating an online course? Why or why not?

A. It would be useful, but not necessary. If the teacher had been a student before, she can understand the sentiments of the students and anticipate the students’ needs. On the other hand, a discerning teacher who has not participated in an online course, could reflect on the online course she is involved in and improve on it, either along the way or after the course is over. She can also gather feedback from her students and learn from the feedback.

Edwin Loma: Director, Master in Management program at Asia Pacific College in the Philippines.

Q. What is your best piece of advice for teachers looking to increase their success rate with teaching/handling online courses?

A. Always try using new features

Q. Do you think it is necessary for the online teacher to be a student of an online course before teaching/facilitating an online course? Why or why not?

A. Yes, a teacher should experience being an online student to be a successful online instructor. Experience puts a teacher ahead of students in the challenges of using online technology in education.  

Truong Thi Nhu Ngoc: Lecturer in Faculty of Foreign Languages at Van Lang University in Vietnam.

Q. What is your best piece of advice for teachers looking to increase their success rate with teaching/handling online courses?

A. Teachers should have clear instructions on how to navigate inside LMS page because students tend to get disappointed when they cannot locate the menu or parts of the lesson that they are supposed to go to. Next, teachers need to assign scores for online tasks to motivate and encourage low -level students because they tend to lazier than highly proficient students.

Q. Do you think it is necessary for the online teacher to be a student of an online course before teaching/facilitating an online course? Why or why not?

A. Yes, because teachers need to know all the features of an online course as well as how to manage time to learn effectively so that they can guide their students better.

Leandre Dacanay: Former Philippine eLearning Society (PeLS) President 2011-2013, 2007-2009;

Q. What is your best piece of advice for teachers looking to increase their success rate with teaching/handling online courses?

A. Engaging learners online is quite challenging. However, there are online teaching strategies you can do to make them active during the online phase. You can do the following:

a.       Give online and educational games by teams. Make them compete with each other so they will make an effort to collaborate.

b.      Make your instructions short and simple. Test your instructions first before sending it.

c.       Ensure that the learner’s journey or learning path is not confusing

Q. Do you think it is necessary for the online teacher to be a student of an online course before teaching/facilitating an online course? Why or why not?

A. Yes. It will help […] it’s actually more difficult to teach online but with prior preparation you can give a more meaningful learning experience to your students.

Advice offered by experts in response to SEAMEO RETRAC’s online survey illuminate the importance of clear instructions, meaningful activities, and staying current with new LMS features. When delivering online content, instructors must take special precaution to ensure that directions are clear, tasks are challenging and activities are engaging to ensure that learners have the motivation to succeed in an environment with less or no hands-on supervision. Technology changes at a rapid rate, and it is important for instructors to stay abreast with the latest capabilities of their LMS to deliver enabling and meaningful experiences for students and ensure that they are staying up to date with the latest technological advances in the learning field.

The education experts contacted by SEAMEO RETRAC all agreed that it is important for instructors to consider the experience and perspective of students while providing online course material or activity. While not all experts agree that it is necessary for online instructors to first experience a course as a student, responses suggest that all experts recognize the unique set of challenges associated with online course delivery. Responses to this question highlight the importance of preparation, LMS familiarity, soliciting feedback and regular reflection to sustain enhanced and transformative online interactions and activities while keeping the learner’s attention.

Samuel Hudson is a student of Master of Public Administration from The University of Victoria, Canada, email:  sam.hudson@hotmail.com.

Maria Pineda is an ICT Specialist and Trainer from SEAMEO RETRAC, Viet Nam, email: victoria.pineda@vnseameo.org