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The Best Tips And Tricks For How To Teach Online

Updated: June 19, 2023 | Published: June 12, 2020

Updated: June 19, 2023

Published: June 12, 2020


Teaching online is a great way to take all the things you love about being a teacher right to your home. Instead of teaching from a physical classroom, teaching online allows you to create a classroom anywhere you have an internet connection. There are many benefits to teaching online, from comfort and convenience, to being able to make some extra income. That being said, there are some challenges, too. Therefore, it’s helpful to have some tips on how to teach online.

Tips On How To Teach Online: 7 Basic Principles

If you’re thinking about learning how to teach online, there are some guidelines and basic principles you can follow to help you best prepare for success.

1. Plan Your Classes

Typically, in a virtual classroom, class time is short and students have the expectation to learn as much as they can in that given time period. This is why it’s very important to plan your lessons beforehand, so you can make the most of that instruction time.

2. Prepare And Master Technology

Before you can confidently teach online, you’ll need to prepare and master the technology required of you. Not only this, but being tech-savvy in general will help you be more successful as an online teacher. To start, here are some things you should be familiar with how to do:

  • Identify common technological issues
  • Discover platform tricks
  • Know how to get tech support
  • Understand if there’s mobile access or only PC access

3. Set Up A Reliable Working Station

Even though you may theoretically be able to teach from anywhere, it’s still a good idea to set up a working environment that feels both comfortable for you and familiar to your students. This will make starting your online teaching day run a lot more smoothly.

  • Have the appropriate equipment
  • Have a background that excites students
  • Make sure your internet connection is strong enough
  • Try to soundproof your work environment as much as possible
  • Eliminate distractions

4. Start Discussions

Learning how to teach an online course is tricky. That’s why it’s important to start discussions with your students right away so they can get comfortable and acquainted with you. Many students will feel nervous when the class starts, and by asking some light questions, you will make them feel more comfortable.

Incorporating educational games online is an excellent way to initiate these discussions in an engaging and interactive manner. By incorporating these games into your discussions, you can create an inclusive and interactive learning environment that helps students feel at ease while promoting active engagement and meaningful interactions.

5. Communicate Regularly

No matter what setting you’re teaching in, it’s essential that you communicate regularly with your students. Remember to always introduce yourself and say good-bye at the end of each class. You should also continue to communicate your expectations of the student throughout the lesson, and remind them of the tasks and assignments.

6. Motivate Your Students

Some students will be excited to be in your classroom, while others would rather be doing something else. By finding ways to motivate your students (and by keeping in mind their age and interests), you can usually get them to interact more. Find ways to keep them motivated, whether through games, a points/reward system, or by promising time to talk about a topic of their choice when they finish the lesson.

7. Ask For Help And Feedback

One of the best tips for preparing to teach online as well as one of the basics of teaching in general is to consistently ask for help and feedback. Try to find a friendly way to ask your students what they think of your classes and how you can improve. You can also reach out to other online teachers, mentors, or the company to get help when needed.

Man on laptop watching a woman on the screen teaching with a headset
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Back To Basics Of How To Teach Online

By remembering to revert back to the basics, you can ensure both you and your students’ success when teaching online.

1. Understand Basic Student Needs

When it comes to online teaching, you’ll need to know that your student can access the course materials, see you, interact with you, ask you questions, and submit assignments. Of course, you’ll also need to have some idea of what their goals are for the lesson and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

2. Understand Basic Instructor Needs

You’ll need to make sure that your instructor needs are met as well, so that you can deliver content to the students in the most efficient way possible. Always make this clear to your students by having open communication with them regarding your expectations of them.

3. Find Ways To Address Those Needs

The best way to meet all of these needs is to utilize the tools and resources available to you. In the case of online teaching, this is usually your Learning Management System or LMS, which we will cover later in this article. You’ll need the right equipment to be able to communicate with the student directly, as well as a method to provide assessment information and student feedback.

Beyond The Basics Of How To Teach Online

Now that you have the basics down, the next step is to go beyond the basics in order to create the most conducive learning environment for your students.

1. Interactive Learning

Many online education classrooms are incorporating tools to make the classroom as interactive as possible. Such tools, for example, allow teachers and students to write on the screen. Or, you can move objects around, play a game together, do a questionnaire, a screenshare for a student’s presentation, or a live assessment together. This would make a class much more engaging.

2. Collaboration

Collaborating with other students is another feature of the physical classroom that can be difficult to translate into the online one. But that’s getting easier. Now with programs like Google Drive, students can easily collaborate on assignments.

3. Flexibility

Not every student has the same advantages, especially when it comes to learning online. Some may find it difficult because they don’t have reliable Internet access, while others may simply struggle with this format. Aside from this, technology can still have its problems. By being flexible, and by making sure your students have other ways to contact you, you will find online teaching to be cooperative.

4. Access To Additional Resources

It’s important to think about ways to ensure your students can access materials no matter where they are. For instance, by creating downloadable worksheets, students can take the time to do the assignments outside the virtual classroom.

5. Preparing Your Own Space

One of the benefits of having a virtual classroom is that you can teach from anywhere. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can teach from everywhere. You need to make sure you have a “desk” with all the functioning equipment — including, but not limited to: your desk, your computer, a chair, a headset, and a stable internet connection.

Student-To-Student Communication

Find ways to encourage student-to-student communication. For instance, open up a forum or chat room for students to work together, or set up a live extra-help session for all students to join in on, where they can talk to each other, too.

You can also create a buddy system for your students to correspond with, while creating additional resources for students to access for support outside of the virtual classroom.

Smiling girl sitting at desk with books and notebooks in front of her
Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixaba

Teaching Online: Important Terms To Know

There are some basic important terms to know for the online teaching space. As an online teacher, you’ll want to make sure you are familiar with these terms.

Learning Management System

The Learning Management System, also known as LMS, is the platform that students, teachers, facilitators, and anyone else who helps you to teach online courses, can access from wherever they are. The LMS is a place where virtual classrooms can be held, where teachers can assign work and students can submit work, where grades can be posted, where bulletins and announcements are shared, etc.


According to, “A learning module is a sequenced collection of subject-related materials designed to teach a topic or skill. It is the building block of an online course.” A module is similar to a “unit” in the physical classroom and is usually a good way for teachers and students to track progress.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

In terms of online teaching, synchronous refers to teaching that’s “synchronized”, or live. This is usually your typical face-to-face classroom.

Asynchronous, on the other hand, is when lessons (including pre-recorded lectures) and assignments are shared in their LMS, but students can access/complete them at their own pace. It’s not necessarily live.

Adapting A Curriculum For Teaching Online

If you are adapting a curriculum from a physical classroom to an online one, there will definitely be some obstacles to overcome. In addition to understanding how to utilize your LMS, you will also have to get creative with the lessons, teaching those lessons, and work required for your students.

1. Understand How To Create Courses Online

One of the ways in which teachers can adapt their curriculum is by understanding how to best share it in the LMS. Perhaps some of the lesson needs to happen face-to-face, but the rest can happen asynchronously.

2. Be Thoughtful About Designing Course Content — Organize Course Content Intuitively

When adapting curriculum for online, try to be as mindful as you can about designing the courses and organizing the content within those courses. Make sure you are appealing to all learning styles and explaining the material, expectations, and objectives as clearly as you can. This also goes for general things, like due dates on assignments.

3. Make The Class Atmosphere Welcoming

If you are teaching synchronously, do what you can to make the class atmosphere as inviting as you can:

  • Use visual aids and props
  • Provide examples
  • Use gestures and facial expressions when appropriate
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Use media and interactive tools
  • Look prepared and ready to teach
  • Make sure students are comfortable
  • Be flexible to those who may work in louder environments

4. Make Sure Lessons Are Age And Level Appropriate

Even if you have a student that is advanced, it’s important to make sure that lessons are age appropriate. For example, if you teach English online and you have a five-year-old who already speaks English very well, you won’t be discussing 8th-grade-level science topics with them, even though they might be comfortable with the vocabulary.

  • Scaffold accordingly
  • Differentiate when appropriate
  • Choose fun, relatable activities
  • Speak in an appropriate tone

5. Prepare Homework And Reading Materials Beforehand

Students should have work to accompany and supplement what they learn in class, just as they would when attending a physical classroom. Prepare homework and extra reading materials before beginning the lesson.

Extra Tips To Teach Online Courses

To ensure the success of your students, here are some extra tips to take with you to the online classroom:

  • Show up to class
  • Be yourself
  • Put yourself in your students’ shoes
  • Explain your expectations
  • Ask for feedback
  • Reflect and commit to improving

Teaching online can be a great way to make income on the side while you’re taking online classes yourself. University of the People not only offers tuition-free Education degree programs, but all of our college courses are conducted virtually, too.

Learn more about how to get your degree from UoPeople, the tuition-free, US accredited, online university, today!