Time Management Strategies for Teaching Online

by Serena Simpson

Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Below you will find 10 strategies to assist you while teaching online during term.

  1. Host office hours: Hosting regular office hours can lessen the number of emails you receive. You can also use this scheduled time to respond to emails and grade assignments or discussions if you have time before or after meeting with students. Especially if #5 isn’t realistic.
  2. Funnel questions to the discussion forum: If one student has a question, it is likely that other students have the same question. Encourage students to post general questions to the discussion forum, that way you can answer it once instead of 10+ times. Plus, another student may be able to answer the question for them. Lastly, address multiple students in one post, it’ll encourage reading each other’s post and save you a little time. In addition, if a student does send you a question via email, that you think the class will benefit from, post is as an announcement or to the Q&A discussion board in your course.
  3. Encourage students to put the course title in the subject of their email: Students often forget that their instructors are not only teaching one course. If you have more than one course, knowing which course the email is from before you open it will save you time in trying to figure out who the student is and what specifically they are talking about.
  4. Set realistic feedback times: Let students know when they should expect to hear from you when they send emails or submit assignments. Feedback is important in online courses, but you have to be realistic about how much time it will take you to grade and how often you will check your email.
  5. Establish a routine: Set aside the same time every day to respond to emails/discussions and grade assignments.
  6. Consider audio comments: Some instructors find it easier to record their comments directly into their students’ assignments as compared to typing them. You can also use jing or other screen recording/video tools to explain procedural questions.
  7. Save frequently used grading comments: If there are certain phrases you find that you use most commonly save them. No need to rewrite comments or announcements each term. Organize your frequently used, announcements, comments, etc. in a word document to copy and paste from later.
  8. Automate functions: Scheduling announcements and assignments at one time can save you the headache and time of remembering to go in and announce them. This can also include a scheduled weekly announcement of what is due each week!
  9. Anticipate your students’ questions: After you have taught a couple of times, you will see a trend in the most common questions. Compile a word doc with those answers and copy and paste or include a FAQ section in your course.
  10. Establish rules and regulations: Let students know early in the course (usually through a welcome announcement) how they should begin the course, as well as expectations, (i.e. you will not respond to emails the evening that assignments are due or whatever rules you set for your course.)

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