#100: Celebrating 100 Episodes with 5 Most Popular Topics for Online Teachers

#100: Celebrating 100 Episodes with 5 Most Popular Topics for Online Teachers

This content first appeared at APUEdge.Com.

Podcast with Dr. Bethanie L. HansenDepartment Chair, School of Arts, Humanities and Education

Agility and continuous improvement are essential parts of online education to meet students’ needs now and in the future, and these attributes require a knowledge of online education best practices, awareness of students’ needs, goals, and challenges, and a regular habit of learning and reflection. In this episode, APU professor Dr. Bethanie Hansen shares highlights from the first 99 episodes of the Online Teaching Lounge podcast, a countdown of listeners’ top 5 favorite episodes, and ways in which we’re celebrating our 100th episode.

Listen to the Episode:

Subscribe to Online Teaching Lounge
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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun. Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen, and I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. This is our 100th episode, and we’re celebrating!

Today, we will reflect on highlights from the first 99 episodes of the Online Teaching Lounge podcast, which began with its first episode in April 2020. We’ll dive into listeners’ top 5 favorite episodes, which help you to know about online teaching topics trending in our podcast and which listeners have chosen most often. And, we’ll close out our 100th episode today with some fun ways we’re celebrating this milestone.

Highlights from Our First 99 Episodes

Looking back, the Online Teaching Lounge podcast began April 15, 2020. I started the podcast to contribute some of my own experience and professional expertise to help educators and parents who were turning to online platforms to keep education moving forward during lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools and higher education institutions everywhere sent students home and taught them virtually, using a variety of methods. And, parents were also asked to teach their children remotely with lessons given by teachers or schools, which was a significant challenge. It was these circumstances that launched our podcast and why we continue to focus on five major topical areas in the podcast over time.

After those first 25 episodes, our talented team of professionals coordinated by American Public University began sponsoring and producing our podcast. This helped us to significantly increase the quality of each episode and provided transcripts so that you could also read the materials we produce every week. I’ll mention some of these skilled professionals at the end of today’s episode.

One of our main topic areas is 1) best practices. We also have four other main topic areas for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. These are: 2) reaching students, 3) using video and other technologies, 4) professional development for the online educator, and 5) wellbeing and work-life balance when teaching and working online. We have covered many topics win these five areas to get you teaching online, help you learn the basics and best practices, and learn how to transfer your face-to-face class into a great online course.

We have taken a deep dive into engaging your learners, with episodes that help you ask great questions and try creative approaches. We have explored the area of online discussions many times to help you keep these fresh and avoid the repetition of standard discussion approaches. A few episodes have specifically focused on the needs of military and veteran students, students who are new to online learning, and adult learners.

We have covered synchronous and hybrid online learning, as well as a heavy focus on asynchronous online courses. And, we have focused on K-12 education and higher education. We have walked through curriculum planning, adding videos and video conferencing, and integrating multimedia apps.

One area that I’m especially pleased to have brought you through the Online Teaching Lounge podcast is a focus on your wellbeing and your work-life balance. In this area, we have focused on your energy and managing your online teaching time. Some of the topics to help you enjoy your online work are these:

And, of course, we have even shared tips to help you with some of the tricky tasks everyone encounters when teaching online. These include giving effective essay feedback, handling academic integrity and plagiarism, managing course extension requests, and increasing student retention and success.

In the first 100 episodes of our podcast, you will find a wealth of tips, strategies, tools, and guidance to help you teach online effectively and enjoy your work. And, we invite you to send your feedback about any of these previous episodes, as well as your requests of topics for future episodes, through my website at BethanieHansen.com/Request. One of the best parts of our podcast is knowing that we support you in what you need and being able to present content that will keep you going.

Counting Down the Top 5 Listener Favorites

The topics we bring you come from a variety of sources, covering anything from tried-and-true experience and researched best practices to trending topics and issues. But you might be wondering what other online educators find most valuable and important. To help answer this question, we’re going to count down the top five episodes of our listeners, as shown in the listeners statistics:

#5: Episode 28, 5 Ways to Make Online Forum Discussions More Creative. In this episode, we took a deep dive into discussions that almost every online course provides, especially asynchronous online classes. The first and most important idea is that an educator who participates in the discussion early in the week sets the tone for students to get involved. And this tends to lead to much more engagement and a lively discussion.

Another tip is to be creative with your first week’s discussion to encourage students to interact with you and with each other, as well as to create psychological safety for your students. Additionally, you might consider scaffolding complexity in your discussions, from the early weeks of class toward the final week, to foster critical thinking and further develop psychological safety in your online class.

This episode also featured some creative approaches, like using case studies and alternative histories in discussions, and hosting debates. The goal here is that we all know discussions are a great way to connect students to each other and to their faculty member who is teaching the class, but we really want to get out of that rut of repetitive formats or using the same type of prompts all the time.

#4: Episode 2, “The Online Education Dilemma-Efficiency vs. Connection.” In this episode, we dove into some of the areas that tend to overload online educators, such as the need to be online all of the time to help us do a great job, meet our students’ needs, and still have time for life outside of work day.

Some of the tips from this episode include taking at least one day completely offline for a clear separation from work and an opportunity to refresh, finding ways to connect with individual learners to help them have transformative learning experiences, and communicating your availability to establish those expectations with your learners. This episode focuses on ways in which you can streamline your practices and yet focus on your relationships with students as a priority.

#3: Episode 1, “Time Management for Online Teaching.” In this episode, I mentioned the book I wrote on Teaching Music Appreciation Online, published by Oxford University Press. The topic of time management was covered in that book, and I shared tips from chapter 15. These include creating a master schedule to plan your daily management of online teaching, making a grid of your various teaching activities to schedule that out, and reviewing multiple obligations you might have.

This episode also shares suggestions for efficiency strategies, like using grading tools, dictation software, a grading toolbar like GradeAssist, a Microsoft Word add-in, to help you use time well and enjoy your online teaching. And, I want you to know that I use all of these strategies myself as well, and I find them especially productive for efficiency while promoting connection.

#2: Episode 38, Asking Great Questions Can Improve Student Engagement. In this episode, we explored how asking great questions can up level your teaching in the online environment. Many of us know that asking great questions can be a great practice, and it happens in discussions. Sometimes we ask questions in our feedback. We might ask questions during a live synchronous session.

There are many ways we ask questions when we’re teaching, but particularly when we’re teaching online. In this episode, we talk about why asking good questions is important, and even we also talk about how to create great questions, which can be challenging. And lastly, we use a strategy to turn any statement into a question to make your teaching even more effective.

#1: Episode 33, Andragogy in Online Education and Strategies for Teaching Adult Learners. Andragogy is an approach to teaching the adult learner that is quite different from pedagogy and in this episode I cover those differences.

We address why we should care about andragogy, how it helps our students, how it helps us. And then some ideas to help you apply it; some ideas from the presentation I attended at the Online Learning Consortium’s Accelerate conference in the fall of 2020, and also some from my own experience.

Adult learners are essentially different from our typical college-age population of the 18-to-25 year old group, and understanding this, we can reach them where they are. We can meet their needs much better, and we can be a lot more creative about the kinds of work that we guide them through so that they walk away with things that are relevant and that they can apply to their real life and their professional endeavors. They can learn it and use it immediately and keep using it into the future. And perhaps one reason that this particular episode is the #1 listener favorite at the Online Teaching Lounge is the fact that adult learners often seek out online education, and we need to be able to support them effectively.

How We are Celebrating our 100th Episode

Celebrating our 100th episode is an opportunity to express gratitude. There are many people who make this weekly series possible, and I’m taking the time to let you know who they are and to thank them for what they contribute.

At American Public University, Leischen Kranick is a leader in supporting and working with our podcast. Leischen brings excitement to her work and helps me develop helpful topics and ideas focused on what you, our listeners, need most in your online teaching and work. Thank you, Leischen, for the work you do to make our podcast happen, and for being a champion of all of our podcasts at American Public University and American Military University. And a big “thank you” to Andi Crowe, who manages scheduling and many other parts of our podcast effort as well.

At Harvest Creative Services, Mark Miller, Colleen Murray, and Bob Miller have been valuable contributors to the quality of our sound and final production. And Mark, thank you for the way you work and your ability to adapt at times and keep us rolling.

Our theme music is called “Lead the Way” and is licensed through Melody Loops. We appreciate Sascha Giebel who wrote the music.

During our first 100 episodes, we had several guests. Our guests have included faculty members Dr. Lisset Bird-Pickens and Dr. Greg Mandalas, Department Chairs Dr. Jan Spencer, Dr. Kathleen Tate, and Dr. Jackie Fowler. Faculty Directors. Dr. Doris Blanton and Dr. Craig Bogar, one of our university chaplains Kyle Sorys.

We also had recent guests who have worked in student affairs and other higher education leadership roles, and who are also faculty members with us at APU, including Dr. Barry Dotson, Dr. Sean Bogel, Dr. David Ferreira, and Dr. Scott Kalicki, each of whom were invited guests of my colleague Dr. Jan Spencer. We recognize our Dean, Dr. Grace Glass, and my colleague Dr. Bjorn Mercer who is also a podcaster here at American Public University, and our Provost Dr. Vernon Smith.

Thank you for being a listener of the Online Teaching Lounge, and for the important work you do changing lives through the power of education at a distance. This is great and challenging work, and we need committed educators to continue reaching students and helping them learn, grow, and develop their potential, especially when delivering education online. We appreciate you. And thank you for what you do!

As we close this 100th episode, I wish you all the best in your online teaching this week, and I invite you to keep listening as we continue to bring you tips, topics, and strategies to help you in your online teaching for many more episodes to come. This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge Podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit bethaniehansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.

#71: 7 Best Practices for Online Teaching

#71: 7 Best Practices for Online Teaching

Teachers can be successful teaching online by adopting best practices to help them prepare and teach the class. In this episode, Dr. Bethanie Hansen shares seven best practices to help online educators plan ahead, humanize their classroom, guide students to tackle challenging assignments, be adaptive during the class, conduct self-evaluations, and get students’ feedback during and after the course.

Listen to the Episode:

Subscribe to Online Teaching Lounge
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Pandora

Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics, and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun. Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen, and I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics, and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Welcome back to the Online Teaching Lounge. It’s Bethanie, your host, and I’m very excited to meet with you today.

We’re starting a new school year at the time of this recording. But even if you’re not starting a new school year, often we’re looking for best practices for online teaching.

There is no real “best” way to teach online, but there are definitely best practices that work and are tried and true. You can be a great online teacher, and your virtual teaching can be exceptional in ways that students rave about.

Some of the things I’ll share with you in these seven tips today are ways to get started with the class and also how to connect with your students. So let’s dive in.

Tip 1: Plan Ahead

When you’re teaching online, it’s critical that your classroom be prepared in advance. If universities or institutions create the course for you, perhaps there is a standardized classroom. And there might be some content that is prepared ahead of time including the lessons, the homework, the assignments, the discussions, and an assigned textbook. But if you are the instructor who is creating that class, you will definitely want to plan ahead.

Teaching online is not an experience where you want to “wing it” or “walk into the room” with your vast array of expertise and just lecture. Instead of being the sage on the stage, online teaching is more the guide on the side experience.

You will want to facilitate discussions. You will want to tell them what’s coming and will also need to be able to tell them how the items all meet the course objectives. How the experiences they are going to have in this class are going to serve them incredibly well to learn the subject matter. All of that requires advanced planning.

Additionally, your classroom will need some extra helpful elements. For example, when you have discussions, you will need to give them some directions on how to participate in those discussions. What kind of things they should write, when they are due, what day of the week, and what to expect in terms of their engagement. Should they reply to others?

When you plan your classroom in advance, you really need to plan every week of the course. Most of this can be installed into an online classroom ahead of time, and you can have a space for everything that you might still be adding as the course unfolds. Just a word of advice here from someone who’s been there: building your class while you are teaching it is an extremely overwhelming experience.

If you are building the class while you’re teaching it during the semester, you will have very little time to actually teach it. You will find that you’re doing the back end stuff so much that you’re no longer connected to your students. So planning your course in advance and getting it up there into the E-classroom is critical.

Tip 2: Find Ways to Personalize the Course that Represents You, Specifically.

Some of us are a little bit worried about putting our image, our video, or any personal information about ourselves online. After all, there are all kinds of spam that come to your Gmail account, if you have one of those, or other email. There’re also phishing attempts. There are a lot of different kinds of internet hacks, were people try to get to know you and steal your information. So we’re very protective online as people, and we don’t want to share very much.

However, as the instructor in an online class, you must share some things about yourself to help students feel comfortable engaging. If they were with you face-to-face in a live classroom, you would tell all these things to help them get to know you. In the written form, or in video form, or even if it’s an audio clip, you also need to help students get to know you. So, the second tip that’s a best practice for online teaching is to humanize your online classroom.

Some ways I’ve seen this done incredibly well are by making screen casts, by creating video introductions of yourself as the instructor. Creating audio narrations to slideshows that you might have in week one, but also in other weeks, and by typing some things about yourself that tell who you are as a person. For example, you might share that you have a background in your subject matter and then you might also tell people about how you love downhill skiing, baking bread, and taking care of your puppies. Whatever it is that humanizes you, share with your students, and it will invite them to be themselves and share as well.

Tip 3: Look Ahead to the Difficult Assignments Students Will Face During the Course, and Prepare Some Helpful Guides

There is at least one other episode of the Online Teaching Lounge podcast devoted to creating student assets. For that reason, I’m not going to get into those details here. I just encourage you to check out that episode. Plan ahead and create guidance in some form that’s uniquely from you helping students prepare for the assignments and leading them into a successful result.

Tip 4: Plan Ahead to Work Regularly and Consistently During the Class

When you’re teaching a live class, you’re going to go to class five days a week, three days a week, or two days a week, and in the in-between time, you don’t even have to be thinking about that class. You might plan, you might grade work; you might answer emails from students. But when it’s a live class much of the action happens during the course or around the course meeting time.

When you’re teaching online, your presence needs to be a lot more methodical and regular. So you’ll have to check in, you’ll have to be checking the discussions, and I recommend five days a week or every other day if your institution doesn’t have specific guidance, or if you get to choose.

Whatever your pattern is, tell students when you’re going to be online so they can expect you and know when they can watch for you. This means that when you’re online, you are to be posting some answers, some comments in the discussion; you’re going to be grading work from time to time. And you’re probably going to answer students’ questions, whether that’s in messaging or in your email, or also in the discussion area.

Tip 5: Be Adaptive

Now it’s a great idea to be adaptive to whatever is happening in the world when you’re teaching the course. For example, if something happens across the country and students are really going to be impacted by that emotionally or intellectually, acknowledge it when you’re teaching the course, you might share a news clip or announcement. You might even adjust your forum discussion prompt so that can be addressed and discussed.

Students need a place to talk about their fears, their worries, but also tie the course content into the real world. If you can find ways to adapt what you’re doing while you’re doing it, that’s going to help meet students’ needs and is also can help them feel seen and heard so that this course isn’t really taking place in an isolated academic environment or in a vacuum, it’s in the real world. And you’re seeing students’ needs as it’s unfolding.

Another way to be adaptive while you’re teaching your online class is to think about getting to know your students. This starts in the first week, when you’re reading their introductions. You can get to know what their backgrounds are, what age bracket they might fall into, and also what they’re pursuing as a course of study.

Many students will tell you what their major is and sometimes you’ll learn about their age bracket, as I mentioned. You have a lot of adult learners who are older, have a lot more life experience they can bring into the course, and need to have some autonomy to their learning. It’s good to know that.

If you have a lot of younger students who are fresh out of high school, maybe in the 18- to 25-year-old range, they might need a little more guidance and a little more specific direction, and it’s good to know that too.

As you get to know your students, you’ll notice some things and what they do in the discussion area or specific things they’ll tell you in your messaging or over email. And these things about students can really help you get to know them and adapt your approach. For example, if you have a student who is serving in the military and they might be in another country, and you don’t see them very often, you can start reaching out because you’re aware of who they are and what their needs might be.

Tip 6: Self-Assess

Before you ever begin teaching your online course, recognize there will not be a lot of observers passing through to give you feedback. And your students may not give you feedback until the end of the class. Likewise, it’s easy to get negative feedback when feedback is given, because the few vocal minority who are having a negative experience, the smaller group in your class, those people will speak out often. And the ones who are really happy with your teaching may not say so much. So you will need a way to self-assess to know how you’re doing, and to observe yourself.

Think about what you’re trying to accomplish as an educator, and also think about what you’re hoping to accomplish in the subject matter with these students, specifically. And periodically throughout your teaching, take the time to reflect on what’s going on. Notice yourself. How you are engaging with others. How much time you’re giving this, and give yourself some self-assessment.

And of course, if you notice something needs to be changed, make some adjustments along the way. So that your teaching can improve. Your presence can improve, and you can meet the needs of your students while you’re teaching them.

Tip 7: Get Your Students’ Feedback

Just like it’s important to self-assess, it’s also important to get your students feedback. Most institutions have some kind of end-of-course survey. You’re not going to get this feedback until the class has ended. And because it has ended, it’s not going to help you teach the current course. You can look to previous feedback and you can see what was said to you and make adjustments for the next time you’re teaching.

But in order to get feedback about the current course you’re teaching from these students you have right now, you’ll need to ask them questions along the way.

One way I like to do that is to embed in the discussion forum an additional question that just asks the check-in. That could be something like adding: “And how does this apply to your life and work? Where are you in your learning in the class? Are you accomplishing so far what you hoped to learn? Is there more you wish you were doing at this point? How on-track are you with your learning goals?”

You can add those to the discussion area, and it’s a very natural way to get a sense for how students are doing and whether they’re pleased with how the course is going. That way, you can mid-course correct when you get their feedback.

A second less direct way to get feedback is by simply looking at the work students are submitting. How often they’re logging in and how much they’re engaging. Some learning management systems have statistics where you can see how much your students are engaging in the class. If you have high engagement, quality assignments, and things that reflect that they are learning, and they are personalizing that learning, that’s great feedback. You can take that away and you can use that to reflect on your practice.

Overall, there are many, many ways for good virtual teaching, and you can be a great online teacher with different approaches that humanize you. That create guidance for your students, that plan ahead to engage. That adapt to what is needed. That self-assess and get students’ feedback.

All of this works really well when you prep your course in advance and plan ahead for what’s going to be needed during the term. Think about your practice as an online educator, and set up your next course in a way that makes you very satisfied to be there, no matter what the students’ experience. If you put yourself out there and do your best work and make those adaptive changes to help your students along the way, you’re going to be satisfied with your own work as an educator. And you can accomplish those things you set out to do in working with your students.

Thank you for being here with the Online Teaching Lounge today. I wish you all the best with these seven best practices for online teaching as you start your next course.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit bethaniehansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.

#22: Two Online Teaching Best Practices That Matter

#22: Two Online Teaching Best Practices That Matter

Starting the new school year, there are two online teaching best practices that matter most. Putting these two practices front and center will help you get your class off to a great start and ensure that it keeps running smoothly.

  1. Be present.
  2. Communicate your norms or expectations clearly, and effectively.

In today’s podcast, I’ll share some strategies to help you develop presence in y our online class. Then, we’ll take a deep dive into communicating with your students.


#22: Two Online Teaching Best Practices That Matter

#11: Adjusting to Online Best Practices

After quickly moving face to face classes online earlier this year, it may be a learning curve, adjusting to online best practices.

Just as there are many teaching standards and models well-known in face to face teaching, online education has a standard of excellence.

In a crunch, a face to face class might have moved online with just a few tools. For example, professors might have communicated through e-mail. Lecture courses might have continued with live sessions, hosted through video tools like Zoom.

But, now that educators look toward the fall’s online classes, there is time to learn online teaching approaches and practices that ensure a more complete online learning experience.

What are Online Best Practices?

Best practices are a set of guidelines, approaches, and standards known to work well. Just like live teaching has traditions and strategies that are effective, online teaching has its own set.

Some of these practices include presence, responsiveness, clarity, communication, norms, and feedback. When you take the time to communicate well with your students, they will grow to trust you. In this way, you will build relationships and establish a sense of community. Your presence and communication are two of many important practices online. Additionally, grading students’ assignments and providing specific feedback will help them continue to learn and make progress in the class.

You’ll learn about these tips and more, while we discuss some of the best practices in online education through today’s podcast.

For additional study and resources, visit these sources, which served as references in the podcast: