Coronavirus: Tips for teaching college online

Positive coronavirus tests have shut college campuses on both coasts
Michael J. Alleman
Michael J. Alleman

The spread of coronavirus to many parts of the country has college and university leaders preparing to shift to online education should their campus close for an extended period of time.

In the process, professors, instructors and students will have to make some important adjustments to instruction in the virtual world, says Michael J. Alleman, who teaches various online courses as an associate professor of English at Louisiana State University, Eunice.

“The virtual environment operates under a different set of rhythms and times,” Alleman says. “Students, particularly those who are coming out of high school, sometimes have a hard time staying focused and performing their tasks on a week-by-week basis.”

As for the educators, they have to be prepared to respond outside of traditional class hours to students working online late at night and on weekends.

This means that, as early as the creation of the online course, instructors should try to anticipate questions and pain points to reduce the chance students will become frustrated, Alleman says.

“If students don’t understand the information, they’re just not going to understand it,” he says. “Some may send you an email but most will just plow forward.”

One aspect of online education that may surprise some instructors is that class discussions can be more robust than in face-to-face settings, he adds.

“Because there’s relative anonymity in an online class, students feel much more at liberty to just express their ideas,” Alleman says.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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