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About this book

Equips new and experienced educators with the skills required to succeed in live online learning. Based on years of experience and research, the authors offer best practice guidelines and practical resources. A life saver for anyone wishing to develop creative, innovative teaching methods to provide great online experiences for their learners.

Table of Contents

1. Be inspired …

… to learn more about the experience of teaching and learning in a web conferencing environment.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

2. Getting started

Going into a virtual classroom for the first time is a bit like venturing into a new country. Careful planning and preparation underpin most successful journeys to unfamiliar places and they will also help to ensure that a live online learning event is worthwhile for participants and a satisfying experience for the facilitator. This chapter covers the things that you need to do before you meet with learners in a virtual classroom. It will help you to:
  • prepare to teach in a virtual classroom
  • explore the technology
  • plan for live online learning
  • build your confidence as a facilitator.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

3. Welcoming learners

Knowing about learners’ needs and expectations can help tutors and trainers to create a welcoming learning experience which motivates learners and increases their enjoyment of live online learning. This chapter develops this theme of motivation and building the confidence of online learners, covering the following topics:
  • the experience of being an online learner
  • getting to know online learners
  • online learners and technology
  • the significance of learner location
  • supporting new online learners
  • making learners feel welcome online
  • helping learners to connect with one another online.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

4. Creating a learning space

So far, we have considered web conferencing technology, the role of the facilitator of online learning and the profile and needs of online learners. This chapter brings the technology, the facilitator and the learners together to consider the importance of:
  • creating a virtual space where people can learn
  • building trust and rapport
  • dialogue, silence and turn taking
  • presenting information in the virtual classroom
  • learners in conversation with one another.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

5. Engaging learners

Once learners and facilitators are appropriately prepared, live online learning provides opportunities for interaction in a range of ways that would otherwise be challenging or impossible. To support these interactions facilitators need a repertoire of strategies that they can employ to create varied, engaging and effective sessions. This chapter provides examples of activities and strategies that can be used in a virtual classroom. It covers:
  • the importance of engaging learners
  • introductory activities
  • activities that maintain engagement
  • effective facilitation strategies.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

6. Is anybody there?

This chapter is about feedback from online participants and the tools that they can use to let us know that there is actually someone there! We will consider the following issues:
  • the purpose of feedback in live online learning
  • the duality of the online experience
  • using the technology to get feedback from learners
  • the role of the facilitator
  • different interpretations of learner feedback
  • developing the feedback process
  • bypassing feedback.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

7. Learners working together

This chapter focuses on the design and facilitation of group work activities which support collaboration and co-creation during live online learning. Examples of activities which make use of breakout rooms are provided, and issues that need to be considered during facilitation are discussed. Some of the issues covered in other chapters, including obtaining feedback, monitoring learner activity and assessment, are reconsidered here in the context of group work. The chapter covers:
  • the role of collaboration and group work in live online learning
  • preparing for group work
  • effective group activities
  • facilitating group activities
  • learner led group work.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

8. Assessment for learning

Assessment may be regarded as the end of learning, the final test to confirm competence or knowledge. A broader definition of assessment encompasses it as part of the learning process, helping learner motivation, confirming understanding and offering stepping stones to different levels of understanding. Online learning is particularly dependent on this broad view of assessment. The purpose of this chapter is to explore:
  • student centred learning and assessment
  • assessment as a marker of progress
  • assessment and learner confidence
  • assessment and exploration
  • web conferencing for learning and assessment
  • assessment in the virtual classroom
  • assessment outside the virtual classroom
  • the assessor: student, peer and tutor
  • the online learner as assessor
  • friends and colleagues as assessors
  • the online facilitator as assessor.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

9. Getting it right

The question, ‘Am I getting it right?’ can be quickly followed by another question, ‘How would I know?’ This chapter tries to answer both these questions by reviewing the skills required to be a facilitator of successful live online learning and ways of evaluating those skills. The image of a journey has been used several times in this book: this chapter considers the different stages in that journey towards becoming a confident and competent practitioner. It considers:
  • early experiences of teaching in a virtual classroom
  • making progress
  • good practice
  • stepping back
  • personal reflections
  • conversations with colleagues
  • the learners’ perspective
  • the onward journey.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma

10. Creative and inclusive live online learning

Throughout this book we have considered creative and innovative approaches to live online learning. A wide range of activities that can be undertaken in a virtual classroom have been covered, but there are still many other ways in which the technology can be used to support learning. This chapter provides examples of creative and inclusive ways of using web conferencing technology to support diverse groups of learners, to bring online and face to face learners together, and to help blend different tools and approaches. The chapter covers:
  • creating an inclusive learning space
  • innovative approaches to using web conferencing
  • exploring the potential of web conferencing technology.
Sarah Cornelius, Carole Gordon, Jan Schyma
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