March 27, 2020 Emma

How does online teaching work? - Transitioning classes online

In this post we will go through some steps for transitioning to online classes. While only a few weeks ago online teaching seemed like a concept of the future, the opportunity is here and it’s time to jump on board! But still, many people wonder, how does online teaching work?

Fortunately, transitioning to online classes can be done by almost every school. It only requires some initial planning, communication with students on the new methods, the right equipment and a bit of innovation. Remember, you are not the only school new to these circumstances, so things won’t go perfect right away for anyone, don’t worry!

Here’s our tips for transitioning classes online.

Create an action plan

So again, how to create an online course? We recommend starting with creating structure.

Like traditional teaching, creating an online course requires goals and objectives. What are the students expected to learn during the course and how can you achieve your goals through the course and teaching methods?

It’s time to get creative!

Brainstorm ideas and topics for each online session, then break them down and organise them in a logical order. One way to do this is by introducing a new module for every week, for example teaching a course in gender history and focusing on a different time period each week.

Keep in mind that you can create a variety of content for each class, because teaching online is done by the vast majority of teachers, learning by doing is crucial to stay open to change and ready to adapt new methods. Think about it, teachers, schools and students have just jumped in the deep end of online schooling so you can be sure there are creative teachers out there thinking of new ways. 

Online teaching tools

When you have formed a course outline you should then start thinking about creating material for your classes.

According to a report written in 2019 by Spiros Protopsaltis and Sandy Baum, the key factor to quality online education is constant student-instructor interaction. This report also found that when students are learning online, they actually want more interaction – not only access to information and assignments but frequent, direct and purposeful communication in real- time. For this reason it’s essential to create content that’s interactive, divergent and versatile when teaching online.

Recorded material for online teaching

Recorded presentations and audio tapes offer room for mistakes as you can edit the material, make retakes and further enhance it by adding design, text or sound to the video.

When recording material you’ll want to keep it short and focused on the topic. Many that are new to online teaching make the mistake of including overwhelming amounts of information or going into excessive details when creating a class. Try to keep your videos and audio recordings under 20 minutes, focusing on the key points.

Digital meetings for online teaching

Transitioning to online classes and holding a meeting or presentation in front of a digital audience might seem scary at first. However, students will enjoy the interaction and are able to share comments, ideas and questions with you and each other. It’s a good idea to encourage this interaction in the chat so that students (and teachers) feel the social aspect of the class.


Creative assignments for online courses

Traditional exams can be done online and can be included as part of the course to test students learning progress and understanding of the subject.

However, creative assignments for online courses should be interactive, encourage students to work together and increase motivation. Such assignments could be a forum where students can discuss topics, create quizzes for eachother or watch your recorded session together. Here’s an idea, after doing this, they can send you three interesting facts they learned from the lesson. 

Teachers can engage their students like they would in a classroom by using various techniques. For example, some simple challenges, quizzes or group assignments that give students a sense of accomplishment. Small wins keep students motivated and excited with learning. If you’re a language teacher, here’s some material you can use from the ISLCollective, they publish helpful worksheets teachers can use, for free. .

How to create an online class for free?

Once you feel ready to host your first online class you’ll need to choose a program. There are both paid and free options, if you opt for a free version we recommend using Zoom. Zoom is what we used in our university for group projects, teacher-student meetings and online seminars. The main difference between the free option and the paid version is that when using the free option group meetings can be up to 40 minutes while for $12 per month using the paid version’s group meetings can be up to 24 hours long. 


If you want to host a meeting on Zoom you simply click “host a meeting” and send an “invite link” to your students, inviting them to your “meeting room”, where they’ll be able to share their video and audio. There is also a chat function and a whiteboard that can be used during classes for raising questions, brainstorming ideas and such. 


When hosting an online class you’ll sometimes want to hold presentations simultaneously. With Zoom you can easily share your screen, and then pop up a powerpoint presentation for your students to follow, as you talk through the slides. You can also record this class and send to the students afterwards, edit it or even create your very own podcast.  


When you finish recording the class, add some final touches of editing and your lesson is ready to go online. Upload the material onto your course platform, website or social media accounts such as Youtube, Instagram, Facebook or even the new platform that’s loved by the youngsters, TikTok… Teachers are now stepping into the territory of the children and teenagers of today. Bon Voyage!.

Online classroom platforms

When teaching online, having a good platform to gather all the course material helps learners follow their progress, find the right material and keep track of upcoming assignments.

We’ve found Teachable to be one of the best online course platforms. Teachable offers a free plan with many of the paid features and can be used indefinitely. 

So, how to use Teachable for free?

Start off by creating an online school, then set up a new course. Within the course you can create modules and lessons for your students. The lessons can be a combination of your recorded videos, presentations, audio tapes, PDF files, quizzes, explanation texts and several other pieces of material. Your students can hand in assignments and leave comments in the sections of each lesson. 

Announce the course to students

When you have your course platform set up, it’s time to invite the students to access your course and what else you want them to see. If you already have a list of students enrolled for your course all you need to do is send them an email including the time, date and an invitation link to the online lesson.

You could introduce the course with a meeting on Zoom, explaining how students can sign up for your new online course, what they will learn during the course and what are the next steps. This is a good opportunity to answer any initial questions (that more than one student could be pondering about) although you will stay in contact with students throughout the course.

Update your social media channels

Social media platforms are great places to announce the transition you are making to doing your lessons online. Posting frequently online not only improves transparency, gives consistent information to enrolled students but will also engage newcomers and/or their parents for your courses in the future..

It’s good to remind students and parents by including the learning goals of your course in a Facebook post, upload a preview of a recorded class on Instagram or any other creative activities to engage with your audience.

Get in the right mindset

Before hosting a meeting or online class you can practise with a small group of students or better yet family and friends. During the first weeks (and months), ask other innovative teachers, students and their parents to give you lots of feedback.

Think positively and avoid thoughts holding you back. The most important thing for participants is not the quality of your videos but rather the context and content. 

Set aside all perfectionism, give it a go and have fun with it. Sure, failure will happen but to consistently improve and adapt to new situations, we need failure! Without some failure, you won’t achieve lots of success, one must try their best!

We are learning too, from all of you teachers in this new era, please feel free to share what you’ve learned through your experiences, we’d love to consistently update and edit this blog, and other content we create to help teachers. 

From all the Mamma team, we wish you good luck! 😃