How Schools Can Set Expectations About Online Learning

Lizzie Ottenstein
Shreejana Mainali
A woman is showing her laptop screen with a message saying "Never Stop Learning".

Educators are reevaluating traditional pedagogical strategies and it’s imperative they find ways to structure the online classroom, community, and platform in ways that encourage student motivation, expectations, and retention. 

Most aspects of learning are adaptable; however, content delivery and communication has changed drastically and demands strategic restructuring. To help, we’ve compiled ways to keep students engaged while also managing expectations. 

Define the content delivery model

Online education can be modeled in various ways. After evaluating what mode of learning best suits your learners, schools should define a consistent content delivery model. In developing countries such as Nepal, it’s challenging to adopt a fully synchronous learning mode due to technical barriers. Asynchronous courses can be an effective alternative and require students to learn at their own time. The best content delivery model can be a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students can complete parts of the curriculum independently, like submitting a project via email or accessing downloadable resources, and also partake in online class discussions and projects.

Assess student readiness to online learning

Schools should be prepared for the changing demands of online learning. Students need to understand the online platform they’re using and how to make the most out of it. Admins are responsible for creating an environment where learners are encouraged to be independent. They should conduct daily motivational sessions and training on how to build self motivated learning habits. 

Provide a consistent online course structure

It benefits students when educators provide clear and concise course structures that help them understand learning goals and expectations. Instructors should design course content in an intuitive, simple, and standardized format allowing students to craft a study schedule and complete coursework on their own time. This prioritizes self-paced study, a key determinant of successful online learning.

To find out more about how online course structure promotes healthy learning, check out this blog on the benefits of providing students with an online course structure.

Involve students in the decision making process

Instructors and advisors should involve learners in major decisions and get real-time feedback. This feedback framework will help instructors determine who is struggling or at risk of dropping out. This can be done through surveys or live feedback sessions. Students indicating low-stress levels may be sent time management resources or study tips, while students who indicate medium levels of stress can be referred to peer mentoring or counseling programs. Students who indicate the highest stress should communicate with a faculty advisor. 

Set expectations

With an established online learning structure, students know what to expect. Avoid a bombardment of resources by choosing effective course content, giving students time for individual research, assignments, and project work. Provide a guide on expected behavior and attendance during online class sessions. These requirements should be readily available for students to refer to throughout the semester. 

Most importantly, it’s crucial to empathize with students and let them grow and thrive in this new environment while offering structure and expectations. We’re all facing unprecedented circumstances, and it’s important that we’re all on the same page.