I've been at this online teaching stuff for five weeks now, and here's what I've concluded: it's pretty much like any other kind of teaching.
If you're a good teacher, you'll do fine online. If you're not a good teacher, well, you'll probably never do very well in any venue.
I am a firm believer that the best teachers are likely born that way. I don't know to what extent teacher training (especially at the college level) really does much of anything for making better teachers/professors.
Sure, I needed some training on our school's online delivery platform. After nine hours of training (mainly self-learning) I had it pretty much down... determining fairly quickly "yes, I'll use this" and "no, that's just a fancy bell and whistle so won't even be trying that."
What do you really need to teach, especially at the community college level? Well, expertise to be certain. And, not expertise in the online platform, but expertise in your subject matter. You need to know what they need to know, and you need to be able to assess that they've learned what you want them to learn.
Also, try to boil down what you really want them to know to three or four things. Know what you find to be essential, and make almost everything relate back to that. For instance, in my freshman composition course, I boil most of the course (and my commenting) down to what I call the S.E.E. Philosophy. Good writing is Specific, provides Examples and, when necessary, provides Explanations.
You then need to get over your own expertise and think, "Ok, now how do I deliver this to people who don't know it as well as me, might struggle with it and, in some cases, might not really be all that motivated to learn it?" You gotta transcend yourself and think in terms of audience.
You need to care. You need to want it for them. And, in some cases, you need to want it more for them than they want it for themselves. Teaching requires compassion coupled with standards. Too much compassion without standards, and you could find yourself passing someone who should have failed because they have a sad story. That does nobody any good. Your compassion needs to be aimed at their rising to the standards.
I had a student in my online lit course who missed the 5 p.m. deadline on Sunday to take his quizzes. He emailed me to explain that he'd had a hellish work week, and that he'd put off my course until Sunday. Once he'd watched the lecture videos and read the stories, the quizzes had already closed. "Could I," he wrote, "still take the quizzes. I'd understand if you had to take off some points."
I told him, "No, a deadline is a deadline, and you need to learn..."
Hell no I didn't write anything stupid like that. I wrote him and said the quizzes would be open until 5 p.m. on Monday (for him and for anyone else who had yet to take them).
He scored 8 out of 8 on both quizzes, which I did bring down to a 7 out of 8 on each quiz.
I remember reading an article once that too much of schooling gets its roots from Puritanism. So, punctuality, listening attentively, good attendance, meeting deadlines, etc are sometimes more rewarded than learning... which is stupid. Be flexible, but not to a fault. If he had emailed me this coming Thursday, I'd probably say, "Too late this time around." In his case, however, he sent a timely email that showed humility.
I've found in the online environment that my biggest benefit to them is that I respond to things immediately. If a student emails me, they will likely hear back in 10 minutes (I'm on my computer a lot). If they don't hear within an hour (except for overnight emails) that's a long time. Students have emailed me to say how pleased they are with my quick responses. I think that's online teaching. You just have to be on your computer more. That's more important than the bells and whistles or knowing how to share your screen on Zoom (btw, I don't use Zoom with my courses). Just respond immediately.... or try to.
Clarity is super important. You need to be clear in your expectations, your lectures, your examples. And, you have to know why you're doing what you're doing with them. No busy work! Nothing that doesn't augment their understanding of the material.
I find there's a purity to this online teaching racket. You simply teach. The physical classroom comes with some artifice, some performance... and in some cases, activities that "fill the time."
My online teaching has some performance, but it feels like it's more focused on the subject matter at hand.
Of course, motivation and self-discipline work against you. Students have to be motivated, and motivating them online is even more challenging. They also have to have the self discipline to "show up" regularly to the online environment.
I've sent out some emails lately (that assumes students are reading their emails) letting individuals know, "hey, according to the Progress Tracker, you've only logged on for 45 minutes this week" or "I noticed you're missing a quiz... what's up?" These reach-out emails seem to be going a long way toward keeping them on track. That's how you show them you care in the online environment.
So, yeah, this online teaching stuff? Well, it's just teaching. You're either good at teaching or you aren't (and it's sad how many people fall into the field that aren't). I'm not good at many things, but I know I can teach.
When this pandemic is over, I imagine I'll still keep some of my courses online. And, if my school comes at me saying, "Well, to do that, you'll need to take our 3-credit Internet Teaching Techniques course" (which is much more in-depth than the 9-hour crash course I took) I'll fight it tooth and nail.
I mean, I was okay to teach online for a year, but now that the pandemic has subsided, I need more training? That would get from me, the proverbial "F that!"
I already know I'm good at online teaching. I'm just a good teacher. I would bet my online course is better than the online courses of people who have been teaching that way for years.
I think it's ok to know you're good at something, and I know I'm a good teacher... whatever the venue.