3 Tips to get more out of your online classes

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us all into a very unfamiliar world. The suddenness of the change has left us gasping for breath, and it gave us no time to think, plan, or prepare. Education is perhaps one of the most severely impacted areas as schools and colleges remain shut, and a lot of the teaching has moved online.

Lets face it, online teaching is hard, as thousands of teachers have discovered during this COVID-19 lock-down. Most teachers have never been trained to conduct online classes. Learning the video conferencing technology to communicate with students is the easier part of the process, while other challenges remain.

Let's also remember that online learning is hard as well, particularly if online teaching does not cater to the challenges of online learning. For a student, this is new territory. In this article, I am going to talk about my top 3 tips to get more out of your online teaching sessions.

Tip-1: Manage the Environment

When you have the students in your physical classroom at school, you have complete control over the environment. They are all sitting in a closed space, you can see everyone, and there is no obvious distraction. Now imagine your students sitting at home. Often you have no idea where the student is, who else is there with him/her, and what is happening around them. Even at the best of times, it is hard to keep the attention of a teenager!

The only way to manage the environment is to make the parents and students your partners, and persuade them to do the following.
  1. Have the student sit in a quiet space, on a straight-backed chair, with the computer in front of them on a table. The student's study table works best, so they have access to their notebook, books and pencil box.
  2. Avoid sitting in a common area like the dining table. Distractions caused by people moving around, or stopping to look at the laptop screen can completely derail the attention of the child.
  3. To create an environment of seriousness, ask the student to be dressed in school uniform, or as they would be dressed for school.
  4. Ask the children to avoid eating or drinking during class, just as you would in school.
  5. Insist on the child using headphones with an integrated microphone.

Tip-2: Make the class more engaging

Holding the attention of 40 children in the classroom is hard enough, but doing it in a virtual environment is really tough. But it is possible. One of the favourite devices used by the most engaging teachers is telling stories.

Integrate your lesson with stories. It is possible even with subjects like maths, but it takes some careful preparation before the class. Identify at least 3-4 stories for a one hour class. Human beings immediately connect with stories, particularly if the story has characters that they can identify with.

Another device that works well is to create a mystery that is unravelled as you go through the class. For example, my maths teacher once started a class by telling us that he could tell us the height of Qutab Minar without actually measuring it. And he proceeded to explain the basic trigonometric ratios and at the end of the class described a procedure he would use to get the height of Qutab Minar. He created a sense of anticipation for us, unravelling the answer at the very end. That lesson taught by Sharma Sir is still fresh in my mind.

Tip-3: Make the class interactive

Find ways to make the class interactive. Children will stay engaged if they feel like they are a part of the proceedings. Eliciting participation is key to making sure that the students do not wander away - physically or mentally. Here are a few techniques you can use.
  1. Online platforms like zoom give you the ability to run instant polls. A little bit of planning can help here. For instance, if you are discussing trigonometric ratios, draw a diagram and ask them a question. Let them respond by participating in the poll. Then show everyone the result of the poll and discuss the right answer.
  2. Use puzzles or crosswords and elicit answers. Many of the teachers using the FlashCardz platform have found that if they run an interactive crossword during a class, the engagement of the students shows a remarkable jump.
  3. Run short assessments during the class. This provides a dipstick check on how well the students are grasping the material.
If you have any tips to share from your experience, please write to us at info@flashcardz.in. Let us share our best practices, and help each other deal with these trying times!


  1. Insightful and practical tips, very useful and relevant. Good read as always Nitin.

  2. Well written! The folks at home too need to maintain radio silence during online classes. If a student accidentally turns on the mike, 8 out of 10 times ,I hear the television blaring in the background! Turn OFF that TV before class!

    1. Absolutely Anupama! Teachers, students and parents have to partner to make online classes work better.


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