JumpStarting Your Fall nextLearning Course

By Dorsetta Williams Manager, Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence

If you are feeling overwhelmed with HCC’s nextLearning teaching modalities, you probably ARE, and you may not be alone. There is additional planning, concerns about technology, and uncertainties about ensuring students are learning. As you develop and implement a learning environment that engages all students, you might feel the challenge of digital access magnified by an unstable bandwidth and an expansive learning curve if you are new to digital learning (Beatty, 2019). Everything you feel is valid.

This article is not meant to alleviate all the distresses mentioned previously, but is intended to offer guidance that might assist you in gaining your footing in this new teaching and learning environment. The tips and tricks offered here have been compiled from instructors with years of experience in teaching online as well as a few other experts who were instrumental in nurturing flexCampus at their institutions.

  1. Weigh Your Options: Choose the activities, software tools, and collaborative platforms that fit your needs when engaging your students. Consider integrating other forms of technology when it makes sense. Try to stick to what works for you, but be willing to consider other options (Beatty, 2019).

  2. Plan ahead: Benjamin Franklin asserted, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Face-to-face and online instruction are very different. Therefore, you should consider testing out your activities and other technologies prior to class time to avoid “skipping” that section with your students. You might even contemplate a plan A, B and C, but let’s face it, life happens! Don’t get disappointed if you are unable to cover all you planned or have to change it along the way (Shipp, 2020).

  3. Be flexible: Remember that your students may experience many obstacles. Offer opportunities for students to choose a different assignment or submit an overdue project (not all of them). Most of all, be willing to deviate from the initial plan (Beatty, 2019; Young, 2019).

  4. Attempt one thing at a time: Try one new thing at a time. As educators, we are life-long learners. You may be energized and excited by all the new ideas being presented, but implementing and mastering one new idea at a time will make the job more manageable (Young, 2019).

  5. Try again: As you move through the semester, you should maintain a list of potential revisions that can help save time and streamline the course. You might collect data from student evaluations, gather the students’ ideas, and note observations about your own workload. This information can help you to revise the course for next semester, creating a better learning experience for the students while maintaining your own sanity and ability to manage the online classroom. (Beatty, 2019; Shipp, 2020; Young, 2019).

To sum it up, you were proven resilient and adaptable as HCC moved to online learning earlier this year. Consider this as a learning process that may take a few attempts to get it right. However, it’ll never be perfect--so relax, grow, and have fun!


Beatty, B. J. (2019). Teaching a Hybrid-Flexible Course: The Faculty Experience in HyFlex. In B. J. Beatty (Ed.), Hybrid-Flexible Course Design. EdTech Books. 

Shipp, J.E. (2020, August 19). Back to the Basics: Revisiting the ABCs of Teaching Online Courses. Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications.  

Young, N. (2019). 8 Tips If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed by Teaching Online. The Literacy Nest.