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This week I was excited by an opportunity to teach online for my alma mater! With that excitement came a little trepidation – this online class has 50 students enrolled. I typically teach classes with, at the most, 18-20 students. Something tells me that this might be quite a different ballgame.

My strategy? Research!  What are some strategies for teaching a large online class?  How do I endeavor to be responsive and to engage individual learners when the class is over double the size of what I’m used to?

I found this terrific article by Elison-Bowers et al. (2011) titled Strategies for Managing Large Online Classes. In it, I found some peace of mind. I’ll share a three of these strategies with you here, but highly recommend reading this piece if you teach, or may ever teach, a large online class.

1. Peer review.  You aren’t the only one who can provide feedback to students. Students are perfectly capable of supplying feedback for each other. Students rely on your feedback and expertise, so peer review doesn’t replace instructor feedback, but it does certainly take the pressure off of you being the sole feedback-giver. Giving feedback is also a great formative learning experience for students.

2. Take advantage of technology. Don’t feel guilty about giving automated tests/quizzes. LMSs are great at randomizing test items and at giving in-the-moment feedback on incorrect and correct answers – something students like and that you, as a distance education instructor, couldn’t give. When automated tests are assigned in a discussion-heavy class with the opportunity for other authentic assignments/experiences, they can enrich the learning environment.

3. Break the class into small groups. It may help to think of your class as 3 small classes rather than one large class. In that venue, a lot of your old small-class teaching techniques should work.

Have you ever taught a large online class before? Any tips for me and other members of our community who may find themselves in a similar position? Please comment below!

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