Environment and class structure

How is the environment in which I teach important to how I structure my class?

Your environment has certain constraints and particular strengths. It is good to be aware of your environment and teach in a way that is complementary to your environment. Trying to refer to a small object in a large class without the aid of a document camera or other visual aid, would be met with students stating they can’t see the object. It is not ideal. However, if the class was small and contained only 20 students, this may make more sense as the students can get up and gather around to see the object.

In the same way, if you are used to conducting your class in a certain way when you teach face to face, you may have to adjust your teaching when you move to an online or blended course.

Comparing holding a class discussion online vs. face to face is a great example of how you may need to adjust your teaching according to the course environment. Students can be prompted into discussion via visual cues, such as shocked looks on other students faces, body language of the instructor and/or the other students. Engagement in online discussion will likely be more reliant on the discussion prompt. Is the question engaging? Is it clear? Does it promote clear action from the student?

Also, consider how you want the students to answer. Many online software systems may require requests to open up the microphones for participation, whereas vocal and body language prompts exist in a face to face classroom. These prompts likely to jump respectfully into the conversation. The conversation may be easy to control in a face to face setting using the jump in method, but it causes chaos in an online environment.