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NMSI Blog

TEACHERS: How to Design a Successful Online Classroom

Are you a teacher navigating online learning for the first time? With years of experience in the digital education space, NMSI has strategies and tips to make this transition a little easier.

Merisenda Alatorre, NMSI’s manager of digital learning and instructional design, offers her expertise in creating an effective online education environment for students in part one of NMSI's three-part Facebook Live series, NMSI's Guide to Digital Learning.

Families and students
: Strategies for at-home learning are available here
 


Build an online community
Students are missing the structure and routine of a traditional classroom. Set up a discussion board where students can post and interact with each other. Create a Zoom or Google Hangout weekly or every other week (whatever works for you) to give students a chance to talk about anything on their minds – letting them know they aren’t alone.

Teacher-Student Connection
Students need to know the best way to reach out to you for questions. It could be emailing, setting up weekly office hours, setting one-on-one appointments or creating a discussion board where students can post questions.

Digital literacy and citizenship
Set the ground rules for how students should interact online. A good rule of thumb: “If it’s something you wouldn’t say or do in real life, then you shouldn’t do it online.” Coming up with the online community guidelines is an activity teachers can do with students.

Keywords
Look for terms like cross platform, works across all devices and responsive when determining which online tools to use. This makes sure the tools are compatible with the different devices students use (laptops, smartphones, etc.).

Central place for communication
Students need to easily find information and resources in one place, such as the class website or a learning management system. If your school doesn’t have an LMS, there are plenty of free resources, like Google Classroom, or a free website builder like Wix. Another great tool is Edmodo, which provides a meeting space to interact with students. 

Recommended Resources

Amazing Educational Resources - Crowdsourced list of helpful tools. It can be overwhelming, so type “ctrl F” to search for specific items.

Edpuzzle - Create video quizzes. Look for existing YouTube videos and add in pauses to ask students questions while they watch it – a more interactive way to engage rather than simply watching a video.

Edmodo - Interactive meeting space 

Educreations - Works well for creating instructional videos for science labs and other subjects, whiteboarding, drawing and slide presentations.

Kidblog - Set up a classroom space where each student can write their own blog, responses to a prompt or whatever is on their minds. The setting can be private, viewed only by those with passwords and shared with parents as well.

KQED Teach - Free professional learning focused on media literacy.

Padlet - Share a question that students can respond to in real time.

SAMR Model - Designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning.


Students benefit when they know adults/teachers are learning new tools and persisting through something different. Let them know you’re there for them and recognize it’s challenging, but you’re all in this together.

Questions about designing an online learning space? Contact us.