Have you thought about teaching an online course or simply supplementing your face-to-face course with an online component? Whether you're considering sharing your expertise via a completely online course or creating a hybrid, you now have a universe of options available for online teaching platforms to you. Here are some of the best online learning sites available. Educators will want to explore these platforms and all of the features they offer.
This is a massive online teaching platform with over 2 million students worldwide and 13,000 courses. It lets instructors design robust classes including video lectures, PowerPoint files, screencast videos, documents, audio files, text, and mashup videos. The platform is completely free for instructors to create their courses which they may offer either for free or for a fee. If there is a fee involved, Udemy takes a percentage of that. This is a very professional-looking platform that has a lot to offer.
One of several online learning platforms, RCampus can be used to create courses, student assignments, keep grades, hold class discussions, and post many types of educational content such as videos, links, images, etc. It can also be used as an ePortfolio management system in which both students and faculty can "build multiple, fully-functional presentation portfolios for demonstrating their skills and knowledge or for career development".
This free online learning platform enables instructors to design and offer courses consisting of a combination of videos, audio files, PowerPoint presentations, and documents such as PDF files, as well as tests consisting of multiple choice questions. Instructors can choose to make their courses freely available or charge a fee for them. Learnopia takes a percentage of all for-fee courses.
P2PU is a grassroots open education project that offers free university-level courses. It is run by volunteers. Instructors can create courses and offer curriculum in the form of slideshows, videos, documents, and discussion boards. Enrollment in courses is limited to provide the best experience for the learner, making it one of the best online learning platforms.
Rather than a place to teach students, this is a website where instructors can either sell or share freely their teaching materials. Teachers may post videos, learning kits, lesson plans, study guides, clip art, and much more that they can choose to give away or charge for. If there is a charge involved, teachers earn royalties on the money earned.
Thinkific is a mostly free online teaching platform that allows you to create and distribute online learning materials. Designed with a variety of different industries and needs in mind, the platform works on a freemium model, with the basic free subscription including the vast majority of the tools you need to offer and distribute online lessons. With support for online sales of lessons, student assessments and more, the Thinkific platform offers a robust set of features for students and teachers alike.
How to Get Started Teaching Online
The first thing you'll want to think about is what you're trying to achieve with this online course. Consider whether the entirety of the course will be on online teaching platforms, if it meant as a supplement to a course, or is meant as a prerequisite before joining a future course, e.g. an online course on basic math skills which might be required before taking an advanced live class, etc.
Create a Course Plan
Just like a face-to-face course, courses on online learning platforms need to have outlines or course plans for what you'll cover each week. If these are courses that you've previously offered live, you're one step ahead of the game. Your course plans will be your maps for what kinds of materials you will need to create for your lessons.
Gather Your Equipment
After you've considered what lessons you want to teach and what online learning platform you want to use, think about what types of equipment, software, and other tools you have at your disposal. Do you have a video camera or other device capable of capturing HD video? Do you have a screencasting software program? If not, sign up for a free trial of Camtasia Studio, or check out screencasting programs such as Screencast-O-Matic or Jing. Will you need to create PowerPoints? Do you have a microphone to capture audio? Once you figure out what your technological capabilities and limitations are, you'll know what kinds of content you'll want to create.
Set Aside Time for Creation and Editing
If you're going to create videos and screencasts for your lessons, consider not only the time it takes to record these, but also how long it takes to edit them, create title slides, render and upload them to online teaching platforms, etc.
Once you've completed all of that planning, jump right in and start building your online course. It's really only through experimenting on online learning platforms that you'll know what you're doing wrong and what's working. Ask for feedback from your friends and social networks and get started teaching online!
Looking for some free inspiration and teaching resources such as syllabi, class plans, learning materials, etc.? Get started with these online learning sites, which each offer free open educational resources.