Addressing Online Teaching Challenges: Strategies & Solutions

The coronavirus pandemic reshaped the educational landscape, disrupting familiar teaching methods.

The coronavirus pandemic reshaped the educational landscape, disrupting familiar teaching methods. As institutions and educators transitioned to remote platforms, navigating the challenges of online learning became a novel experience. Relying heavily on technology to communicate with students presented problems of online education. Yet, each challenge also offers an opportunity for growth. This article delves into these challenges, providing strategies for optimizing online learning.

This article offers insights into:

  • Challenges of Online Learning
  • Tips for Transitioning to Online Learning 
  • How to Make Online Learning More Engaging 
  • Engaging Students Online with Kritik

What are the challenges of online learning?

The multifaceted challenge of online learning becomes evident in the shift to online education. Addressing technology shortages and connectivity issues while ensuring an inclusive experience are just some challenges of this intricate journey.

1. Digital Access Challenges

The challenge of online learning often begins with a lack of essential technology that hinders many students and teachers from effectively participating in online education, with some sharing devices or lacking them altogether. Globally, the surge in internet use and digital tool adoption results in problems in online learning, like frequent connection losses and diminished audio-video quality. Amidst these obstacles, educators grapple with creating a cohesive learning environment.

2. Lack of Student Engagement

The lack of student engagement consistently tops the list of teaching problems, especially with motivation playing a pivotal role in students' online learning experiences. The essence of student engagement in virtual classrooms lies in its ability to foster student success, primarily driven by the perceived investment and connection from instructors. A genuine sense of care from online educators can elevate the classroom experience, bolstering student persistence and confidence[1].

3. Computer literacy

The sudden shift to platforms reveals the problems of online learning, mainly when dealing with the intricacies of learning management and streaming systems. While a grasp of computer hardware is essential, navigating the myriad online tools – from learning management systems to diverse streaming software – becomes an integral part of the teaching process. However, for many educators and students, mastering these digital tools and overcoming the learning curve remains a significant challenge[2]

4. Providing an Inclusive Learning Experience

Students with learning disabilities often face additional problems with online learning, given the lack of online interpreters tailored to their needs, intensifying the problems of online education they experience. Equal learning opportunities for every student remain a core belief. To uphold this, Kritik meets all accessibility requirements and ensures compliance with all WCAG 2.0 guidelines, consistently refining the platform for greater accessibility.                                                      

5. Time management 

Transitioning to online teaching posed unique challenges in teaching, with many educators juggling various e-learning tools and managing vast information, all while crafting impactful teaching strategies. Spending up to ten hours on teaching tasks, from streamlining processes to addressing online learning problems, can be daunting. With Kritik, educators save 100+ hours per term on grading, reducing administrative burden due to calibrated peer review and streamlined workflows.

6. Data privacy and insecurity

In the digital realm, challenges to online learning often extend beyond curricula, including data infringement and unanticipated cyberattack disruptions. Many students remain unaware of safeguarding their devices, further heightening the vulnerability to these online learning problems. However, Kritik prioritizes data privacy, ensuring strict FERPA compliance and hosting servers exclusively in the US or Canada, tailored to institutional partnerships.

5 Tips for transitioning to online teaching

Online education has made learning accessible for all. For professors navigating this digital landscape, consider these strategies to make the transition smoother.

1. Communicate Priorities

Understanding and conveying priorities can streamline the challenges in online learning. Instead of revisiting basics readily found online, it's vital to address online learning issues, choose the right online teaching tools, and consistently communicate with students. Instructors using Kritik have access to a Help Centre and several instructional guides for students that enable a smooth transition to online teaching. 

2. Have a Plan B and C

Setting clear expectations and staying informed about students' potential challenges with online learning, such as technology breakdowns, ensures smoother transitions in this new teaching landscape. Mitigating virtual learning challenges necessitates understanding each student's engagement level. Always be prepared with alternative plans to maintain consistent educational progress[3].

3. Facilitate Remote Collaboration

Despite the problems of online learning, such as social distancing hindering student collaboration, it remains essential to promote teamwork that encourages them to sharpen their problem-solving skills. By assigning specific tasks and emphasizing constructive class feedback, an environment conducive to remote collaboration emerges. With Kritik, professors are using team-based learning solutions and other unique activities to address these online learning challenges.

4. Design Experiential Assignments

Amid the issues with online learning like Zoom fatigue, ensuring students remain engaged in their education's breadth, depth, and quality becomes paramount. Designing experiential assignments that prompt them to venture out, gather data, or engage in hands-on activities can rekindle their involvement and commitment. Such practical tasks address the challenges of e-learning and offer a tangible way to enrich their educational journey.

5. Offer Office Hours Support

Balancing teaching time becomes crucial when navigating the challenges of teaching online, as students might pose numerous queries during office hours. Allocating specific class hours and designating email channels for assignments ensures a streamlined process. Kritik enables a simplified workflow for professors, saving time grading with its precise peer assessment system.

How to make online learning more engaging?

As a professor, there are many ways to make an online class engaging. Some of these include:

  • Ask for Feedback: In online teaching, seeking students' input for course enhancement is beneficial. Conducting early-semester informal discussions, polls, surveys, or emails allows for fine-tuning based on their feedback. A few questions to consider:
  • What’s working so far? What would you like help with? How could your online learning experience be improved? 
  • Let students choose their learning way: Allowing learners to select topics and units tailored to their interests can bridge the problems of teaching by ensuring content resonates. This approach fosters a sense of ownership, guaranteeing genuine engagement with the chosen material. It's paramount, however, to keep choices within the curriculum's scope to avoid potential teaching challenges[4].
  • Make the learning social: Incorporating social elements into lessons, such as sharing and commenting on discussed topics, fosters interactivity. This strategy can help mitigate the problems with teaching in isolated online settings. Keeping students engaged socially can reduce the challenge of teaching by promoting collaboration and mutual feedback.
  • Invite learners to contribute to teachings: Diversifying the virtual classroom by inviting learners to contribute addresses the problems in teaching online. Such inclusivity enriches discussions, mitigates issues with online learning, and fosters a more interactive environment. This approach ensures a well-rounded, engaging digital learning experience.
  • Encourage Peer Evaluation: Allowing students to view each other's work fosters understanding and cultivates a culture of sharing, which is especially vital in overcoming the challenges in e-learning. In this era, where online education has grown due to unforeseen events like the pandemic, tools like Kritik's calibrated peer evaluation platform play an instrumental role. The platform ensures students are rewarded for providing meaningful and quality evaluations to their fellow peers. 

Engage Students Online with Kritik!

If the pandemic has revealed any truth, learning can transpire from any location. Asynchronous education isn't just a passing trend but a testament to accessibility and affordability. The lingering challenge? Ensuring student engagement. Peer assessment emerges as a scalable solution to this very issue.

For further insights on enhancing online teaching, check out how Prof. Kaston Anderson-Carpenter was able to successfully transition their course online and deliver engaging learning experiences. 

[1] Kebritchi, M.,  Lipschuetz, A., & Santiague, L. (2017). Issues and Challenges for Teaching Successful Online Courses in Higher Education: A Literature Review. Research Gate. _for_Teaching_Successful_Online_Courses_in_Higher_Education_A_Literature_Review

[2] Neendoor, S. (2023). What are the Biggest Challenges of Online Education Today. Hurix.

[3] University at Buffalo. (n.d). (2023). Equitable and Inclusive Teaching and Learning

[4] Chiaro, C. (2022). The Benefits of Student Choice. Teach Hub.

Carine Marette
Carine is the Co-Founder of Kritik.