frustrated teacher pic

Keeping on top with online teaching

Quick tips for staying in control

Being organised and in control on the computer has become the new ‘must have’ classroom management skill.
In this post, I’m going to share five top tips for keeping in control when teaching online. These tips will save you valuable seconds (they all add up!) and allow you to give more of your attention to the students.

1. Know the lingo

Terminology allows us to communicate quickly about complex topics within specialist communities. We all know plenty of it from our teacher teaching and, even if some of it frustrates us, knowing it helps us to function in our profession. With the move to teaching online we’ve all been exposed to a load of computer terminology that you may believe has little place in teaching. However, learning the lingo will not only make your life easier when teaching online, but also help to make you feel part of the digital community.

Below I’ve created a quick drag and drop matching task with some of the bits of computer terminology we frequently seem to use with teachers. How many do you know?

Of course, as language teachers we know that there is more to learning vocabulary than matching words to definitions. Always keep an eye out for how these terms are used and what collocations are most common. And remember to try to use the new vocabulary you’ve acquired!

This website has an extensive dictionary of computer jargon written in relatively clear language. Use their search function to check the meaning of any words you don’t know.

2. Be in Ctrl with keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a great effort saver. There is a shortcut for almost anything you might want to do while teaching online. Most of us are familiar with copying and pasting using Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Below are my favourite keyboard shortcuts. 

Click on the shortcuts to read what they do. How many of these do you use?

Ctrl + K

Add a link – highlight the text you wish to add the link to, use the shortcut, then paste in your link.

Ctrl + Z

Undo last action (same as the back button). I use this as often as I make mistakes!

Ctrl + Mouse click

Use this when you click on a link to make the link open in a new tab.

Ctrl + N

Opens a new browser tab.

Ctrl + Shift + N

Opens a new incognito browser tab.

Ctrl + Space bar

Undo formatting.  Highlight the text you wish to undo the formatting of and use this shortcut. Very useful if you’ve just copied and pasted from somewhere with different formatting to the document you’re working on.

Ctrl + Enter

Use this to send an email once you’ve finished writing it (instead of clicking the send button)

Ctrl + F

Find. Search for text in a document or webpage.

Ctrl + Alt + M

Add a comment to a Google doc (you can then use Ctrl + Enter to post your comment)

Ctrl + C / Ctrl + X / Ctrl + V

Copy / Cut / Paste

Ctrl + B / Ctrl + I / Ctrl + U

Bold / Italic / Underline

3. Use your bookmarks

Use a webpage (or online document, or folder) regularly? There is no point in searching for it fresh each time, get it bookmarked.

Click through the five steps to bookmarked teaching below. I use Chrome as my browser so the instructions below are Chrome focussed. Other browsers offer very similar options.

4. Turn it off and on again

We joke about this but the majority of tech problems have very simple solutions.

If something goes wrong, don’t panic! Always try the suggestions below as more often than not they can fix the problem or at least help diagnose what it is. (In the worst case scenario, at least you’ll get the satisfaction of saying “of course I’ve already tried that” when you contact somebody else for help!)

Click on the troubleshooting suggestions below to read more.

Try a different browser

Seems to solve a wide range of problems. We’re not always sure why, but if it works, don’t knock it as a quick fix!

Check your cookies

Sometimes your browser will block access to things like your video. If this happens, go to your browser settings and select ‘Allow all cookies’.

Try a different device

Try doing the same thing on another other device. Try any computers you have, your tablet, your phone etc.

Check your internet connection

Check to see if you’re connected. It can be worth running an internet speed check to see how well your connection is running. I’d suggest doing this when you don’t have any problems so you can see what your normal speeds are.

Identify what is causing the problem

If you have followed the above suggestions you should now have an idea of where the problem might be coming from. This will help save time when you get support.

Google it!

It is unlikely that your problem is unique. Type what’s happened into Google and see if you can find a solution. I have it on good authority that this is generally what IT support services do!

And finally.. Turn it off and on again. It often works and even if it doesn’t, at least you have time to make a cup of tea!

5. Develop your confidence

Learning and trying out new things can only bring benefits. Not everything you try will work for you but that doesn’t matter, it will all help to make you a more confident online teacher. There are loads of free materials available online to help you. Keep an eye on this site for upcoming webinars and new blog posts.