Running a virtual classroom seems like a dream. Just as your students can access the lessons anywhere, the same is true for you. Once the course is live and you are in the midst of it, you can opt to check on discussions in a coffee shop today and in your pjs at home tomorrow. This level of freedom is of course, limited to the technical requirements of the course that you have set up for your online classroom. However, in most cases, you do have the freedom to access your course wherever you wish.
While this freedom makes this type of learning very convenient, it could very well take over your life. Students may think that you have all this time in your hands and would stretch the limits of the deadline that you will set for them. Although you can access the course anytime you wish, it is important that you be careful about it. Some virtual classroom instructors who fail to set up time management plans end up blurring the lines between their professional and personal lives. Do not let this happen because soon, you will feel burned out by the accessibility that online learning provides.
There are a couple of things that you can implement in your life that will help you keep this from happening.
- Encourage students to help each other. While your presence will never be gone, you need to shift from being the lead to a spectator. Set up your virtual classroom in such a way that it creates a community of self-learners. Create activities that will ignite discussions that will help students teach each other. That way, you only have to jump in every now and then to steer the discussion in the right direction. But let your students exchange ideas and allow them to express opinions that will help educate each other.
- Create reusable content. Another thing that you can do is to make sure you create reusable content. While you want your virtual classroom to always be updated as each course is implemented, you do not want to keep on building them from scratch. So once in a while, reuse your content. That means, you need to create videos, presentations or activities with the intention of using them again. If ever, the most you will have to do is to alter a few things. That should help you limit the time needed to create new courses.
- Be strict about your time. In a traditional classroom, it is easier to set deadlines and plan your schedule. When you are a virtual classroom instructor, you will find that students would stretch the set deadlines in such a way that some of them will send emails at very late hours. You can control this of course, but you also have to control yourself. Set a strict schedule of 9-5, 8-4 or whatever time works for you. If your work day ends at 5, tell your online students that you will only receive submission until 4. That should leave you with enough time to check and grade whatever they submit. Once the time is up, be disciplined enough to shut off your computer and attend to your personal life.
- Know how you will grade or comment on student output while planning your course. Most instructors will say that the most time consuming part of teaching is checking, grading and making comments. Make sure that you know how the grading and commenting will be done before you implement a course. For instance, your students will most likely be submitting online papers. Making comments on them is not as easy as writing at the edge of a paper. Think about how you will do this in such a way that it will not be too time consuming.
Being a virtual classroom instructor can easily eat up even your personal time but if you follow these tips, you are guaranteed to still have a life outside of your teaching profession.
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