More of a teacher’s job takes place online now than ever before. Just like in the classroom, teaching anything online requires the use of a variety of tools and systems. The digital nomad dream of teaching online from anywhere takes web-savvy knowledge of the latest tools.
Teachers with classroom experience may find these online tools sound familiar. One of the biggest challenges facing online teachers is transforming teacher tools from the classroom to the web. Fortuantely, modern technology makes the process much easier.
What are these tools?
Web based apps, SAAS (software as a service) services, and even general components like grade books and student rosters can be found online. Today we’re going to take a look at the best practices for optimizing a few specific organizational and classroom tools for digital use.
If you have lesson documents and other materials saved on a computer from past courses, you’re in luck. Upload and transform them into useful outlines and tools for your online courses. If not, these tools typically allow teachers to create documents and save them for future use.
Before getting too far, we’d like to remind teachers that these tools require forming a routine and maintaining organizational skills just like classroom-based tools. There are certainly no shortcuts there – except for the fact that once you create a lesson plan or document, it’s stored on the web for future use! The more you play around with a service or tool that you like, the better you’ll become at adapting its features to your needs and using it to optimize your work day.
Keeping grades and assignment feedback
If teaching with a school or other institution with multiple staff members and different groups of students, check to see if a system for tracking grades and assignments online is already in place. If not, or for solo teachers running an online business, there are a variety of platforms available.
- Google Classroom is the most straight forward. Via Google docs, upload assignments, notes, and other documents and provide permission to students to view and download them. Due dates can be set via Calendar, and both teachers and students can comment and have discussions in the ‘stream.’ Google Classroom easily syncs with other Google services such as Drive, simplifying storage and organization.
- TeacherKit is a simple tool that offers many features found in Google Classroom, and also can be used for easily tracking grades. Add an unlimited number of classes. Connect with Dropbox to sync lessons and documents. Export grades, charts, and other spreadsheets as a PDF. Free and premium options are available. The latter offers the ability to add behavior notes, track attendance, and add students to a class roster via face recognition technology.
Planbook is our favorite online lesson planning tool. Plan out the lessons in advance for each course. Then attach any relevant documents. Connect a lesson to pre-determined standards to ensure it is up to snuff. Arrange lessons to fit the class schedule, and re-order or reorganize on the fly. As a bonus, Planbook allows teachers to track grades as well.
TeacherVision offers online lesson planning along with a number of other resources for teachers. Their site is built around classroom teachers and is school-oriented, as opposed to sites like Planbook which are more open-ended.
Whiteboards and other live teaching materials
Try Doceri if your lessons or classes require written demonstrations or live note-taking that everyone can view. Doceri is a virtual white-board. Present PDFs and other docs, draw, write, and explain virtually anything that you need to convey to students. It costs $30.
The easiest method for incorporating videos into a lesson is to send the student a YouTube link. PlayPosit allows teachers to make those online videos interactive. Include additional add-ons as relevant to the lesson. If videos are part of your lesson plan, this is definitely something worth consideration. PlayPosit offers access to pre-made educational videos, and allows uploading of video content from anywhere else.
Building a routine
The web hosts a wide range of additional tools for teachers. In many circumstances, the services that act as a network for students and teachers make it easier to communicate effectively. Use them to receive valid feedback and engage in conversation with students. For more teacher-centric apps, check out this post.