Transferring content from an in-person class to an online platform is not a one-to-one shift. Teaching online is a different experience with different advantages and challenges. So how can you harness the great and minimize difficulties?

When working with economics professor Dr. Peter McHenry from the College of William and Mary on a blended economics course, we discussed how we could best use online learning to empower him in the classroom.

Dr. McHenry has found it most useful to transfer his introductory material to a digital learning platform — sharing vocabulary and other foundational information in online lessons leaves him more time in class to fully explain complicated ideas or facilitate group discussions. In addition, the e-learning experiences allow students to take as much time as they need to study, absorb, and question foundational materials, i.e. self-paced learning.

Our team has worked with several professors in the same position as Dr. McHenry, to help them shift their content online while still capturing their unique teaching style. We want educators to flaunt the engaging stories, quirky anecdotes, and fun activities that they use in the classroom in online lessons, too. Digital learning tools can make life simpler for professors, help them reflect on their pedagogy, and make their teaching more powerful without sacrificing their honed, unique teaching voice.

Below I share how our team suggests you transfer learning content to the digital medium for the best, most true-to-you results:

5 Steps to Help You Transfer Learning Content Online

1. Think big picture

Before diving in, I recommend looking at the overall structure of your curriculum and brainstorming how you could make it even better. Since you are going to spend time transferring your content, you might as well take time along the way to improve it.

Our tips: Ask yourself, if you could change your curriculum in any way, what would it be? How can you use digital lessons to empower yourself as an educator? How will you take advantage of adaptive learning or other digital learning tools?

2. Get creative

In order to find unique ideas, we recommend using the learner-center design process. Learner-centered design focuses on problem solving, creative ideation, and empathizing with your users. This is the framework we employ when designing learning experiences on Smart Sparrow; it’s effective and it’s fun!

Our tips: To try out learner-centered design, contact Smart Sparrow for more information on how we can support your process.

3. Think about adaptability

One unique feature of the Smart Sparrow platform is that it is adaptive. You can tailor your students’ learning experiences to their unique needs and interests. For example, some of your students may be excited about the coursework, but completely overwhelmed. This student type may need the material to be presented in many different formats and may require remedial pathways with supplemental materials. At its best, an adaptive lesson can make a large class feel like a small, personalized seminar.

Our tips: Take time to brainstorm about how to use adaptive feedback and pathways to best serve your students. For more information on adaptivity, please read this article “Make the lesson adapt to a student.”

4. Mold the digital lesson to fit your style

You have probably spent years molding your individual teaching style and in-class activities. We believe that you can translate these elements to an online context. Make a list of your most effective and interesting stories, anecdotes, and activities you use in the classroom. Then, use this as a basis for the structure you’ll use to guide your online lessons.

Our tips: If you have a blended course, ask yourself, how can I make my online materials cohesive with my in-class materials?

5. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished

After your students have completed the learning experiences you have designed, use Smart Sparrow Learner Analytics to determine what went well and what you can continue improving for the next iteration. Embrace performance data as one of your most valuable assets! It allows you to continually improve your course and pedagogical approaches over time.

Learn more

For more about what it takes to shift from traditional to digital learning, listen to The Learning Nerds Podcast interview with Dr. McHenry. He shares the steps he took to transfer his in-class content online, and how he decided what worked best in the digital medium.

And if you’re interested in learning about how the Studio at Smart Sparrow can collaborate with you to help transfer your learning content to the digital medium, share your ideas, thoughts, and questions using this form. Our team will reach out to schedule a free consultation.

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