Think Tank

May 25, 2020, 23:05
Focused Online Instruction Includes These Markers

Focused Online Instruction Includes These Markers

26 March 2020

Students respond best when online classes include downloadable lessons, deadlines and real-time interactions.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

Although online education has improved tremendously over the past decade, there are still challenges associated with those delivering material and those who are on the receiving end. Not everyone is comfortable with technology and how he or she can present material with the same student impact as would occur in a face-to-face environment. This is especially true when it comes to technical hands-on skills. On the other end, students must have a different level of self-discipline to become effective learners in an online environment.

Asynchronous access to online platforms assumes students will dedicate the appropriate time to their studies without a scheduled class control point. A significant population of learners responds best to a disciplined environment where a schedule, deadlines, and interaction keep them focused. To this end, your transition to online delivery should include all of these markers: schedule, deadlines and interaction.

It is helpful if some part of your class material delivery is real-time with the addition of video and audio. If your college platform does not allow for this, then you might consider integrating ZOOM MEETING into your delivery package. ZOOM allows for real-time audio and video conferencing that allows you to actually hold live classes online. Check out their program information at (Click here for a Gold Medal Classroom article featuring information on using Zoom and other video classroom programs.)

We all learn differently – some find a fully digitized class is cold and intimidating. Many find learning is enhanced when they can hold something in their hands. Touching a document seems more natural than simply addressing a screen. Make sure your lessons are then downloadable for those who choose to print documents. Some find it difficult to focus on material without an opportunity to ask questions and visibly interact with a teacher. Online instruction is best when this visual, audio, real-time interaction is available.

Outside of providing a scheduled, real-time class make sure you include some level of tone-setting for the day of learning. If not live, then take advantage of quotes, links to short videos found on YouTube, or inspirational and relevant stories. Every day, aside from students’ requirements to check-in and run through information and assignments, there should be something that inspires, interests and encourages them to take their online class work as seriously as time in a physical classroom or kitchen.

Finally, the critique portion of online instruction is even more critical than it might be in a face-to-face environment. Without the normal method of evaluation that comes from instructor interaction and peer critique, students tend to feel lost and without sufficient direction. Make sure your online critique of all work includes narrative as well as alpha/numeric grading.

Click here for a Wired article for those teachers transitioning to online formats.

Adjusting to a new method of delivery will be even more challenging for the instructor than the student. Find yourself a seasoned mentor who has worked out the kinks in delivery and acceptance and who is willing to help you troubleshoot. In the end, you will wind up with a new, valuable skill set for the future.


Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC, president of Harvest America Ventures, a mobile restaurant incubator based in Saranac Lake, N.Y., is the former vice president of New England Culinary Institute and a former dean at Paul Smith’s College. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..