Teaching Continuing Education (CE) students comes with many benefits and challenges. While online courses allow students from all over the world to have access to education, it can make the normal interaction you would have in a classroom a little more difficult. By asking the right questions, you can ensure you and your student’s get the most out of your class.
- What are your expectations for this class?
Before you begin teaching any class, you should get to know your students. Most CE students are adults with jobs, families and other outside obligations, which is why some have chosen an online CE program. They want to advance their career, but they need to learn in a flexible environment. By getting to know their background, experience and expectations for the course, you can not only help them achieve a successful outcome, you can also tailor your course to make it relevant and meaningful for all your students.
- Is interacting with your fellow students important to you?
Learning the course material is important, but so is learning from the other students in the class, even when it is taught online. Because every student will be coming from a different background, with unique experiences and insights, you definitely want to make sure your students are willing to engage in open-ended discussions with their fellow students. By allowing students to learn from each other, as well as from you, they’ll be better able to see how the course material relates to their real life.
- How does this class or material relate to your real life experiences?
If the goals and objectives of your class are not clearly defined from the beginning, your students may have a hard time relating how the material translates into their daily lives. Ask them to identify scenarios in their own lives that are similar to what you are discussing. Then have the entire class discuss how what they are learning in class could be used to solve the situation. When students see how their own lives can intertwine with the course materials, they are more likely to grasp the concepts they are learning and better able to apply them in the future.
- Is the feedback I am providing positive & beneficial?
Never underestimate the power of positive feedback in both open discussion forums and private emails. Online courses can be intimidating and you want your students to know that just because they can’t physically come to your office, they can get the attention they need. Encourage students to give feedback and participate in all discussions. By providing an open, friendly online environment, your students will feel valued and in turn, provide value to you as well as their fellow students.
- Is there anything I could do to make this class better?
This last question might seem like a no-brainer, but don’t take your students feedback for granted. You never know when insight from a student might provide you with an opportunity to make your class even better. Keeping your students engaged throughout the length of the course allows you to make adjustments in real-time, or even re-think your plan for the next class.