Adapting lesson plans for online teaching

A PowerPoint slide titled, "PowerPoint Design," illustrating design ideas from PowerPoint
Image source: Jessica Freitag via PowerPoint Design

Awkward silence and staring at the screen while not knowing what happens next are what students may experience during an online session. On the other side, however, the instructor is trying hard to pull up a file for the next activity. You may think naming the activities of the day will do the job, but perhaps a bit of visual aid helps keeping the plan in mind both for the students and teachers. This is where an electronic version of a lesson plan might play a role.

In pre-pandemic classes, instructors commonly started the class by putting the agenda of the day and steps for each activity on the board for to have a vision of what will happen later. Now that we are online, we may not be able to keep that pattern. For teachers themselves a detailed lesson plan on paper helps avoid losing track of their teaching. What we are missing here is the fact that in an online setting visual aids play a huge role not only to navigate our brains throughout the lesson but also to grab attention.

What I use to serve this purpose is adapted PowerPoint slides – both as my lesson plan and as the lesson navigator – with plenty of visual effects and images. Does this sound time consuming? It shouldn’t be if we exploit Microsoft PowerPoint Designer by choosing Design Ideas on the ribbon.

The Designer offers various suggestions on how to display content that you input. My first slide always starts with the subject, date, and a nice image for the day, which the Designer suggests. The second slide would be my agenda with the list of activities we are supposed to do. The following slides are dedicated to each activity and their details. Here we can type the content and then ask the Designer to design it for us. The Designer will give us some ideas to choose from in a second, which requires little effort on our part and leaves us with professionally designed visual aids to help conduct our lessons.

What’s the point? We don’t want to miss any of our teaching steps, and we don’t want our students to think we have no plans for the day. After all, they believe in what they see. Looking at nicely planned slides is unquestionably different from seeing their teacher going through a bunch of paper to explain what comes next.  

What strategies have you used to adapt your lesson plans for online teaching?

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