Even when learning in a F2F environment some students think our lessons are too long! However, when teaching online it is even more important to be aware that we should not teach at the speed we talk, but at the speed learners can follow us and process the information we want to get across. Keep in mind that we are teaching new concepts in a second or foreign language and at the same time they –and we in many cases- are trying to get their head around this new way of learning; how to use the functionalities of the platform, having to focus on understanding and taking notes at the same time etc. etc.!
1- Plan for less: when planning your online lessons , be realistic about how much –or maybe it’s better to write how little- you can get through in a 45 minutes lesson. There might be connection issues at the start, some functionalities might not work or take time to work when the internet is slow and task setting might take longer as well as conducting feedback. Be realistic about the amount of materials and the number of activities you want to get through. In all cases we want to avoid learner frustration and… your own disappointment!
2- Don’t go overboard on tech: while good teaching may overcome a poor choice of technology, too much use of Apps & Tools in one lesson will most likely not save you from ‘bad’ teaching… or at least the feeling that your lesson was not up to your standards! Keep it simple, select familiar tools and remember you don’t need to use all tools in the same lesson. Consider ease of use and how confident you and your learners are with the tools in your planning stage and plan accordingly.
3- Allow for thinking time: developing understanding takes time and it is well known that learners come to know things by doing, by being actively involved in the learning process. For example, by asking open-ended questions, providing tasks that offer an appropriate level of challenge (desirable difficulties) and allowing learners to discuss or debate their ideas with others. All this takes time and wanting to them to do too much will most likely result in more shallow learning, an accumulation of facts and rules and cognitive overload which results in less learning!
4- Make time to rest & sleep: planning for online lessons will most likely take more time at the start and in particular if you want to use other tools & Apps on your platform. Don’t overexert yourself, you might be running a marathon instead of a sprint so make sure you don’t demand too much from yourself: take time to rest, sleep and recharge your batteries in between planning and teaching!