Online Teaching can present itself in a number of different ways, and it’s a method that’s garnering more and more popularity by the day. Especially given the fact I’m writing this article during the midst of the global pandemic that is the coronavirus. Whether you’re a qualified school teacher moving to a new way of online and remote teaching; or you’re somebody with a unique skill set looking to provide value to your audience by creating an online class or course, there’s a number of ways and platforms you can use to teach your students or sell your courses.
In this article, we offer a number of unique online teaching tips and go through the best platforms for teaching your classes!
- Teaching Tips
- Where to host & sell online courses
- Where to teach live classes and lectures
Online Teaching Tips
Have The Right Equipment!
If you’re tuned in to an online class or course, there’s nothing worse than poor video or audio quality. So you’re going to want to make sure you have all the right studio gear to make your online teaching sound and look as professional as possible.
In terms of importance, having a good quality microphone is going to be your number one priority here. You want your students who are sitting in on your class or course to be able to hear and understand you as clearly and as easily as possible. This is key in keeping the attention of the viewer as well as retaining your audience for future classes.
So if you’re asking yourself the question “Will the internal microphone on my laptop or phone be good enough?” The short answer is no.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and affordable microphone solution, we’d recommend opting for a USB Microphone that’s going to offer much better audio quality. All without breaking the bank.
You might also want to make sure you have a good set of studio headphones, so you can monitor your audio accurately and prevent sound leaking through to your microphone and interrupting your recordings.
On top of that, you’ll want to make sure your lighting is on point. Ensuring you’re well-lit and your audience will be able to easily see you on camera. Thankfully, we’ve put together a film lighting pack that makes things super simple if you’re really serious about getting it right.
Always Record Your Classes
Although you might have a structured class time scheduled, especially if you’re teaching high school or university lectures. There’s no excuse not to record your classes as well. For instance, if a student is sick, or struggling with internet access, they might end up missing important pieces of the class, and even the entire lecture. So having the ability to revisit lectures and go through each individual talking point allows your students to really immerse themselves in your class. As well as spend more time focusing on the areas they need help with.
Thankfully, if you’re using a conference call platform such as Zoom, you’ll have the option to record your entire class and have it easily available for your students to revisit.
Show Your Face
It can be tempting to simply narrate the slideshow that you put together for your online class. But research has shown that online lessons and courses that include the teachers face, considerably outperform those that don’t. So you might want to consider having a video overlay of yourself, as well as displaying your slides. Programs such as OBS (Free to download) allow you to easily manage what you see on the screen when you’re streaming and screen recording, so it’s a great tool to have up your sleeve. We’ve also written a guide on how to stream with OBS, so if you’re interested, it’s a great place to start.
Make sure your text is legible!
If you are going to be making use of slideshows in order to accompany your online classes, you’ll want to make sure your on-screen text is going to be easily readable. You’ve got to remember, it’s 2020 and a large majority of your students are going to be looking at your class from small screens and mobile devices.
If you’re going to be recording multiple videos or tutorials on certain topics for your students, it’s a good idea to keep them short and concise. Once your videos start getting up to 15 minutes or longer, you run the risk of students losing focus or getting distracted. So it might be worth breaking up longer topics into separate, shorter videos.
Make use of interactive tools
Especially useful when you’re teaching remotely and trying to emulate the classroom, there are a number of tools available that are going to make it that much easier for students to interact with your lesson. These include platforms such as Moodle, Edmodo, and Blackboard and give you a number of additional tools at your disposal, including the ability to create interactive activities and quizzes.
Where to host & sell online courses
If you’re going to be recording, hosting, and selling online courses; you’re going to be looking at a different set of platforms than if you were to be teaching a group of students as a replacement for the classroom. Like all things, there are a number of different platforms available that are going to help you get the job done. We’ll go through some of the most popular options below!
When it comes to learning new skills and hosting online courses, Skillshare is by far the most popular platform at the moment. Becoming a member of Skillshare grants you access to all the online classes available to you, so you can try your hand at a number of different skills and find out what resonates with you most. This would be a useful place to host your class if you’re teaching something like DJing, Music Production, or Mixing & Mastering, where you want as many people to sit and watch as possible. Skillshare is great because it has thousands of active members and over 27,000 premium courses. Although it might not be the right place for you if you’re teaching a specific class that only specific people will have access to.
With Skillshare, you also won’t be able to set your own price for your class. So if you’re offering a premium service, and want to charge a premium price, you won’t be able to do so. This is because Skillshare charges a flat monthly subscription that grants you access to unlimited classes. A great incentive for users to signup, however, it does mean you have no control over your pricing. Originally, Skillshare teachers were being paid a price per subscriber to their class. However, this has also changed and teachers are now being paid per-minute watched.
Above all, Skillshare is a great place to dip your feet into the world of online courses. But if you’re looking to make some serious money, there are probably better options available.
Similar to Skillshare, Udemy is an online teaching marketplace filled with hundreds of classes that are used by people every single day. However, unlike Skillshare, students will have to pay individually per each course they enroll in. Therefore, this also means that you have complete control over your course pricing. But it’s important to note that Udemy still takes a significant cut of your earnings (around 50%).
Another problem that many seem to find with Udemy is the massive discounts the website regularly runs for their marketing campaigns. For instance, you might have a course that’s listed for $100, and Udemy might decide to run a massive site-wide sale that means people are only paying $20 for your course. As a result, you’ll end up only taking home around $10 per user who signs up! So keep this in mind when setting your prices.
You also won’t get access to the email list of people who sign up, as Udemy owns the lists they accumulate. In saying that, you do have access to a messaging system that allows you to interact with your students and possibly gain their information that way.
Above all, Udemy is a great place for experienced course makers and many creators make a healthy income through their courses!
Teachable is an online teaching platform that differs again from both Skillshare and Udemy. The main difference being that it is NOT a course marketplace like the others, so users won’t be able to search up “how to dj” and find a list of courses to choose from. As a result, this means you’ll have to rely heavily on your existing audience and marketing in order to get your course in front of your students.
In saying this, Teachable offers a lot more customization and allows you to have your own URL that functions just like its own website, and even let you link your personal domain. What’s more, you get entire control over the pricing of your course. So you can charge as little, or as much as you like.
Another benefit of Teachable that you won’t find on Skillshare or Udemy, is the fact that you have access to the email addresses and information of all your students. Rather than just a messaging service, this gives you the ability to easily add your students to your mailing list so they stay up to date. Even after you leave the platform.
Where to host live online teaching classes, lectures, and conference calls
The alternative to uploading online teaching courses is hosting online classes that provide an alternative to the everyday classroom. This is usually done in the form of a conferencing style platform that allows the teachers to easily communicate with their students during class.
When it comes to conference call software, Zoom is undoubtedly the most renowned and popular option. It does everything you need it to do in terms of simple face-to-face video meetings, but it does a hell of a lot more than that too! Offering a number of advanced features and functionality that allow you to take your business meetings to the next level.
It’s also extremely straightforward, and free to use with its basic subscription. Though it does offer a number of paid tiers that give you access to a bunch of incredible features.
- Schedule Meetings
- Create Recurring Meetings
- Track who attended
- Record your meeting as a video
- Share your screen
- Waiting Rooms
The downside to Zoom is that there has recently been a spike in the number of security vulnerabilities. Since everyone has migrated to working from home, there’s been more and more reports of people “crashing” zoom meetings and causing unwanted disruptions to important work meetings. However, the likelihood of this is still low, which is why we still recommend Zoom as the go-to for business meetings and remote teaching from home.
For a more detailed insight into the possibilities of Zoom, check out our how-to guide below.
Performing a lot of similar functions to Zoom, Adobe Connect is another option if you’re looking to migrate to online teaching. Adobe is renowned for its software that sets the benchmark for professionals in a number of industries worldwide. Although just like its creative suite, it comes at a cost. So even though Adobe Connect is a great and effective tool that gives you everything you need in terms of virtual learning, the price point certainly makes you think twice about using this platform.
For comparison, Adobe Connect can set you back hundreds of dollars per month for its premium subscription. While Zoom’s top tier will only hit you around $50. So unless you’re working for a large organization that’s decided the benefits of Adobe Connect outweigh the possibilities of Zoom, we’d recommend opting for the cheaper option.
Another platform for online teaching is Echo360. Designed specifically by teachers, for teachers; Echo360 is a platform that allows you to give your students 24/7 access to classroom discussions; presentation materials; as well as the lecture itself. You can also make sure the video quality of your lectures and lessons is of the highest quality. Whereas Zoom tends to limit the quality level of live calls and streams, especially given the fact that their servers are currently being used by thousands of offices and teaching institutions worldwide.
Thankfully, due to COVID-19, at the time of writing this article Echo360 is offering Teachers free access to its Instructor Edition with unlimited access for your students.
Microsoft Teams is yet another option that comes toe to toe with Zoom. When it comes to the features, both Microsoft Teams and Zoom allow for online meetings, chats, screen sharing, and filesharing. However, the main difference here and why many decide to opt for Teams over Zoom is its integration between Office 365. So if your organization is already running all things 365, with Microsoft Teams you’ll be able to make sure everything seamlessly integrates together. Especially in terms of collaboration, backups, and file search.
But it must be said that Zoom also integrates seamlessly with Slack. So if your organization already relies on slack for communication, this might be a feature that draws you in! When it comes to pricing, you can get your hands on Microsoft Teams for a similar price to Zoom. So it really comes down to a matter of preference, and which is going to integrate with your business better.
Above all, Zoom still seems to be the way to go. With affordable pricing plans and ease of use; along with the fact that so many people already have the app installed on their computer or mobile device. So you’ll have no trouble getting your students involved and working alongside you right away.
For more resources related to online teaching and working from home, check out our ultimate resource guide!