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Preparing an Online Class with Emma Cresswell

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Emma Cresswell


The academic year is over. It is time to prepare for the upcoming academic year. I will be attending a professional development (PD) program in a couple of weeks. Before it is coming, it is better to review back what I learned from the previous PD.

Just like students, it is good for teachers to review back what was already learned some time ago. It gives us time to reflect, have we implemented those we learned or not. Let’s not make the time and energy (and maybe money) we spend for joining the professional development programs be wasted.

In this post, I will be listing what I need to prepare for the next online teaching based on what I learned from Emma Cresswell. I joined her webinar entitled Developing Skills in Organising and Planning Online Education on December 22nd, 2020. It was part of three-days-long program from educamp, a teacher training regularly held during holiday. If you are interested in joining this year’s training you can check their website. There are absolutely useful webinars available during the program.

Emma Cresswell Webinar
source: educamp.co.id


I will be dividing it into 3 posts: things to do before class, during class, and after class. This post will be focused on the before-class part.

What to prepare before online class

1. Choose the communication platforms and how you will use it

It is important to decide and then inform the students about how the communication will be held. It includes what, how, and how often you will use the communication platform.

Will you use teleconferencing apps? Which platform suits your needs best? How will you use it? Will you need breakout rooms? Online whiteboard? Annotation?

There are a variety of teleconferencing platforms available, such as Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, Microsoft Teams, etc. Depending on your needs, you can compare them and choose the one that suits you best. I have tried those platforms, but Google Meet has served me well this year. I am planning to use it again in the next academic year.

How will you do asynchronous sessions? Which platform can you use? Will your lessons be recorded? Will you need Loom or Screencast matic for recording your lessons?

For me, using Whatsapp group chat is effective enough. You can also use chat features in LMS such as Google Classroom, Edmodo, Class Dojo, etc.

You might also want to consider other types of communication than written. You can use video messages, voice messages or images.

It is also important to plan in advance, which part of the lesson you will do live, and which part of the lesson you will do asynchronously. In this way, you can use the limited live time more efficiently, but also not to overload students with many asynchronous assignments while students have no idea how they should do the assignment. You must try to keep the balance. Students can easily feel overwhelmed during online class.

It is also suggested to inform students about those on the first day of school. You may put them in your course syllabus or classroom rules. Students can then understand what is expected from them.

2. Plan the Syllabus in more detail

As it is mentioned we need to keep the balance of the types of learning experience given to students, thus we need to plan the syllabus in more detail. Emma suggests considering Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model of Learning in developing our syllabus. 

3. Make sure students know where to access everything

Just because your students are digital natives, don’t assume that your students will directly know where to look for when they need to find a certain part of a lesson or an assignment. You need to show them. You can make tutorials, for example how to check a new material, how to submit for their assignments and where to see the deadlines.

4. Make students know each other

The purpose is to give the students a sense of being in a learning community. So students can feel more comfortable while learning with teacher and also classmates.

Well, this is not easy for an online classroom, especially for the younger students. Let’s just do what we can do to help them. You can arrange time for them to introduce themselves, do some get-to-know games, set them into different group works so they can get along with each other. You can also start a small survey at the beginning of the lesson. You can use Mentimeter, or poll features in the teleconference platform. Or you can simply show questions on the screen and ask students to answer in the chat box.

Once students know each other and also know the teacher, they can be more engaged in lessons. The opinion and information exchange can flow smoothly. Here, learning will be much easier both for you and your students.

5. Netiquette

Consider how digitally literate our students are. Make sure they understand that communicating on the internet has the same rules as communicating in the real world. Tell them about netiquette. It is also important to give clear communication guidelines for them.

I remember when we started using Google Classroom for the first time about four years ago, students used the class comment feature just as if they were casually chatting with their friends. Then I began explaining that using class comments is the same as when you are speaking to everybody in the real world classroom, where everybody can listen to you clearly, including the teacher. Then they start to understand what type of sentences would be appropriate to use in the class comment.

It is also important that students understand the appropriate timing of communication. You can set office hours, and explain how to contact the teacher outside of live class.

You might also experience that since work-from-home is applied to schools and offices, people seem to forget that they are actually still having private lives. People chat about work until or past midnight. Even adults don’t know what is the appropriate time to make a work call!

Let’s teach this to our students that being online doesn’t mean that you forget about manners.

6. Plan for each class

Yes, you have your annual plan and the lesson plans that serve you every year. But it is better to go into more detail and plan for each class. You might consider how and how long you should do the online teaching, consider parts of you can use Break Out Rooms and ask students to do Pair Work. You can add an additional column in your lesson plan for your reflection, so that you can write what you can do differently or how you can overcome the problem that arises.

7. Resources

As there are abundant resources available for online learning, you can have a big temptation to use the resources. We need to realize, however, that those external resources are additional items to our teaching. We should be very picky about the resources.

Questions can be asked, when we are selecting the external resources to used in our class:
  • What type of activity can we do using the resources?
  • Can the resources fill the purpose or serve the learning objectives well?
  • Can we use other resources or do different activities to serve the purpose?
  • When will we use the resources?
  • How are students going to access the resources?
  • Will they need extra devices or extra preparation that we need to give the notice on the meeting before the activity is held?
You might also want to consider the resources like video and articles that you will need to distribute earlier before class day to the students so they can watch or read before the lesson.


Conducting an online class is a challenge. Planning will help us a lot. I hope you have a wonderful new academic year. See you in the next post.
Nia M Wardani
Hi! Call me Nia. I am a physics teacher and I love to learn anything in the universe.

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5 comments

  1. School will begin soon. Let's prepare everything so well, even just still on line class.

    Thank you for the information that you gave

    ReplyDelete
  2. ka nia, aku up ya hehe,,, bantu view aja

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think point of netiquette is something we should pay attention more today, since the students consider the teacher like their friend, sometimes the way to speak, to reply, to ask, even to behave inappropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  4. online class is a challenge, its true

    ReplyDelete
  5. Guru harus terus belajar, update ilmu agar bisa terus memberikan yg terbaik

    ReplyDelete

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