A good teacher (and trainer) has to have a wide range of skills. The basic skills consist of:
- Subject expertise
- Structural and organizational skills (organizing lessons, course programmes, etc.)
- Methodological knowledge (learning tasks)
- Teaching strategies (how to give input)
- Pedagogical knowledge (how to interact with learners; how to develop their social skills)
Teaching and training approach
The fundamental approach of a trainer when developing a course concept should consist of three elements:
- Content: Clear definition of the content that will be worked on and which targets should be reached at the end of the course. If necessary, the teacher can adjust the pre-defined course targets based on the learners’ feedback.
Also, through clarifying the content of the course, the potential participants of the course can be pre-defined. This is an important aspect, since the online tutor should know his learners.
- Activities: Clear vision of the learning activities that will be implemented in the course to support the learners’ understanding of the content.
- Support: Clear communication structure to enable oneself (teacher) to effectively support the learners to achieve the course targets.
When teaching an online course, the online tutor has to have a certain set of teaching skills to conduct an effective and sustainable online course. As a fundamental structure it is imperative that the teacher knows about different methodological teaching strategies and is capable of effectively applying these (Barbera et al., 2014).
Teaching and training skills not only consist of different formats of presenting information and giving input, but also of methodological knowledge of learning activities which will give the learners the chance to root the previously received information.
In an online setting it is even more relevant to plan in detail the balance of theoretical input and practical tasks, since the learner will work his way through the online course based on the provided structure which has to target the implementation of knowledge and its practical relevance. To achieve this transfer, the learners need to be cognitively activated as well as practically involved with the content. Hence, a practical part for the learners, either individually, in tandems or bigger groups, should be attached to each theoretical input.
To further increase the chance of implementing the taught content, the tasks should be built around real-life examples. The first example should be provided by the trainer. For the following tasks, the learners should be given the option of choosing real-life examples of their own. For those practical tasks to work effectively, the provided structure has to be well thought-through. Learners have to develop certain skills which traditionally have been developed through challenging tasks that focus on the adequate usage of abilities such as analytical or problem solving skills (Barbera et al., 2014; Wilson & Stacey, 2004). These elements have to be considered when designing practical tasks for learners, since those topics are of vital essence for the current world of work. Hence, the structure of the practical tasks has to be given, but the content should be selected by the learners. This will allow them to apply newly obtained information to practical tasks that are also relevant to the learner himself. Resulting, this should lead to a deeper understanding of the content, since the learner will not only receive information, but also add it to pre-existing knowledge and available abilities, which in combination will allow a more diverse cognitive memorization of the information.
Apart of working with practical tasks and real-life examples, any learning activity should follow each theoretical input. Those tasks have to be active for the learners.
Giving feedback (part I)
Shortly after each task, the learners need to receive some form of feedback or assessment by the teacher trainer or tutor, to see in how far their performance was correct or needs further improvement. This step is of utmost importance. Not only will the learner get the feedback and can adjust accordingly, but the learner will also feel noticed and valued which will in return positively influence his motivation to further participate within the class.
The content of the feedback should include praise as well as criticism in a balanced amount and always refer to the targets of the course. The progress achieved by the learners has to be visualized and put into perspective relating to the course targets.
Regarding feedback itself, there will more information in unit 2 “Communication”.
This would lead to the end of one content-cycle. The trainer gives a theoretical input, the learners have to work on a task that requires them to be active and afterwards the learners will receive a feedback or will be assessed in some form. Once, this content-cycle has been fulfilled the next content can be worked on.
To keep things interesting and diverse, the presentation formats, the learning activities as well as the form of assessment should vary as much as possible, without becoming distracting. Any group of learners will consist of diverse learners, hence it is relevant to apply diverse formats for giving input, diverse learning formats and diverse forms of assessment.
Giving input and learning tasks
Examples for giving input in an online setting:
- Short videos: Of oneself speaking directly into the camera, of a recorded PowerPoint presentation, animated videos with voice-overs, recording of the presenter’s screen whilst explaining different documents, etc.
- Uploaded documents: short articles, self-written summaries of certain topics, exemplary parts of relevant literature, etc.
- Audio files of voice-recorded lectures or explanations
- Webinars or other formats of live presentations
Active learning methods have already been presented in TM2 under “Popular active learning strategies”.
Basically, the learning tasks should vary in the following aspects:
- Individually, in tandems or groups
- Learners can pick a topic or the online tutor provides a current topic
- Feedback will be given by peers or the online tutor
- Assessment format can either be individual qualitative tasks, game-like tasks, collaborative projects, etc.
These formats of giving input and learning activities can not only be applied for online tutoring. In case you want to modernize your tuition approach through implementing digital components, the content of this unit can also be used.
Blended Learning is an approach that combines traditional teaching elements and digital tutoring components. It refers to any kind of combining E-Learning and traditional physical teaching.
“The term blended learning is generally applied to the practice of using both online and in-person learning experiences when teaching students. In a blended-learning course, for example, students might attend a class taught by a teacher in a traditional classroom setting, while also independently completing online components of the course outside of the classroom. In this case, in-class time may be either replaced or supplemented by online learning experiences, and students would learn about the same topics online as they do in class…”
(source: http://edglossary.org/blended-learning/ )
A trainer who wants to teach online or use digital components within a traditional course has to develop a concept. The concept has to clearly define the content as well as the course targets. Each theoretical input has to be followed by learning activities which will require the learners to be actively engaged with the content. The trainer then either gives a qualitative feedback on the learners’ performances, or assesses the learners. The entire course should be student-centred, since the trainer’s target has to be to help and guide the learners learning process.
This procedure can be applied for as many content units as the online tutor deems to be necessary.
Regardless of how many units the course will consist of, the teacher should always end each unit with a summary and start each unit with a review, including the connection the of the units to each other.
For any learner, it is necessary to comprehend the overall structure as well as the interlinkage of multiple units (Barbera et al., 2014).