What Taking a Math Class Taught Me About Going Online: An Educator’s Perspective

An Educator Takes an Online Class
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Author: Emily Farris, Texas Christian University

I’ve been taking an online Math class this summer to brush up some foundational quantitative knowledge, both for my research and for my methods teaching. I aim to complete a lecture each week, which includes a chapter reading, smaller module videos and some practice problems.

Taking a class online myself has taught me more than just Math—it’s taught me to consider the student perspective when developing online teaching strategies.

The next time I use videos in an online course, I’m utilizing the following tips:

Tip 1: Keep it short.

Videos longer than 15 minutes wear me out. Between parenting my toddler and working my regular job, it’s hard for me to find big blocks of time to watch videos.

If the video is long and I need to stop it, it can be tough to jump back in and refocus the next time I have a moment.

Tip 2: Talk slower and provide a transcript.

I take notes so I have them to go back over later, and I often end up having to watch the same 15 seconds over and over in order to get it down.

To provide a transcript, closed captioning on YouTube videos can be helpful, but sometimes it doesn’t capture every word, so be sure to edit. Students can also speed up the video themselves if they want to watch it faster.

Tip 3: Limit fancy production.

I was surprised to see that I really didn’t care about production at all, other than being able to clearly hear the professor and see what I needed to see.

In the course I took, the professor records a video of themselves talking while teaching with a whiteboard through their tablet. But, I would have also been fine with just audio and the whiteboard.

Tip 4: Roadmap and bookend the videos.

Tell me what I’m learning in this video or what I should get out of this video, so that by the end, I can double-check myself to make sure I’ve got it.

In general, stating the objective and/or desired outcome at the start of a video or presentation is just a good teaching practice even in non-pandemic times, but especially now when a large percent of learning is online and more self-guided.

Short, accessible videos with a clear goal should be the aim for faculty developing content online through videos. Taking a class this summer actually made me appreciate the basics of teaching much more.

Don’t get caught up in the fancy when moving your course or teaching online—students aren’t necessarily looking for that. Hopefully these four tips can help guide you.

For more insights, strategies and peer-approved advice, check out our Navigating What’s Next series for professional development, right at your desk.