5 Tips for Successful Online Classroom Management

online conference/Zoom meeting

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Managing an online classroom can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time doing so.

If you’re recoiling in horror at the thought of teaching in an online classroom. Don’t.

Whilst some people might prefer the idea of teaching using videos, pdf’s, etc, some topics are better suited to being taught ‘live.’

But online classroom management can be difficult. And when I say this I don’t mean keeping a load of unruly teenagers in check. Adult learners need classroom management just as much as children.

Between different types of technology and the wide variety of personalities and learning styles in your class, it can be hard to make sure that everyone feels comfortable, included, and ready to learn throughout the entire course.

Luckily, there are ways to manage an online classroom that will not only help you achieve all these goals but also make your life easier in the process. Here are six tips for successful online classroom management you can use no matter what you are teaching online.

Use LearnWorlds to teach live online classes by integrating with:

  • Zoom
  • Webinex

1) Start with a Proper Introduction

Before you begin interacting with your students in an online classroom, it’s important to introduce yourself and set clear expectations.

Here are some tips that can help: include a personal statement and pictures of yourself, let students know if they will have your undivided attention or not, and share how you like to be addressed by your students. No matter how many people are in your class (it could be dozens or thousands) you’ll need a few simple words to kick off each session.

Introducing yourself can be tricky. After all, not many people like talking about themselves. Try having a short bio of a few sentences written out which you can reuse at the beginning of any new course or class. This could be the same bio that you use on the landing page of your course or a shorter version of this bio.

Introducing yourself sets the tone of the course. Your students understand who you are and why they should be listening to you. By introducing yourself, you’re confirming your experience and expertise and why you’re the ideal person to be teaching this course.

And remember, expertise doesn’t have to come in the form of qualifications. You can be an expert in a hobby you do, or in something you have professional experience in.

When laying out your ground rules for an online classroom, one of the most important things you need to consider are:

  • Microphones – do you want people to mute themselves all the time? Just some of the time? Do you want to have control over the mute functions or your students?
  • Questions – how will people ask questions. Do you want students to just speak up when they have a question (this could work for smaller classes but definitely not bigger ones)? Do you want to use a ‘raise hand’ system? Or do you want your students to post questions in a chat box that you will review at the end of the lesson?

Whatever your approach to microphones or questions doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your students know what is expected of them.

2) Help Students Cope With Online Distractions

When your students are distracted, they’re not learning. Students who don’t learn won’t get anything out of your course. This has the potential to lead to poor reviews, a lack of recommendations, and ultimately fewer course sales.

If you notice that a number of students aren’t concentrating and are spending most of their time on Facebook or Instagram, you may want to get together with them in an online forum and talk about how they can stay focused in class.

If you do start that your students are starting to drift or disengage, remind them why they are there in the first place. This might be the encouragement they need to concentrate again.

Don’t stress too much though. If a disengaged student isn’t affecting the learning of other students then this is going to be their loss and not yours. You can only go so far when motivating students who don’t want to learn and would rather be distracted.

3) Use Technology Wisely to Improve Focus

There are many ways to use technology to improve the focus of your students. Some examples include:

  • Using breakout rooms for discussions before bringing everyone back together
  • Using a Jamboard to have learners brainstorm different ideas connected to the lesson
  • Add in a quiz or assessment part way through. This quiz could be built into your online course or completed via a question and answer session held during the lesson. Students could give answers via a chat function, raising hands, or using a quiz plugin.

Using quizzes and assessments in online courses

If you do use an assessment, don’t spring it on your students.

That isn’t fair.

Make sure that they know they will potentially be tested ahead of time. Knowing that they may be assessed means that students are more likely to focus to avoid failing the course.

Including a quiz? If the mark doesn’t count towards the student passing or failing the course, make sure they know this! You don’t want to stress your students out over a quiz that is just included for fun.

4) Establish and Enforce Ground Rules

Before you start teaching online, establish and enforce a set of ground rules. These rules should address any issues that could arise in an online classroom, such as how to deal with disrespectful behaviour or, if you’re setting coursework or assignments, missed deadlines. The goal is to establish a safe environment for students and to let them know what behaviour is expected from them.

Depending on the type of course you are running, once your students have been accepted into your course, you could provide them with a document that covers all of your ground rules.

Make sure that they understand that everyone is expected to abide by these rules throughout your course. The penalty for non-compliance? That if they don’t follow them, it could result in failure or expulsion from class. You might also want to add into your Terms and Conditions that students removed from the class might not be eligible for a refund of the course fees.

5) Give Frequent Feedback

When you’re running an online class, it can be difficult to know when and how to give feedback.

One technique is to make sure that you always provide some kind of feedback after each activity, as well as at periodic times during the course (depending on how long the course is). This way, students don’t need to wait until final grades are due or study for an assessment to find out how they’re doing. They’ll already have a sense of how well they understand each concept.

Providing feedback online can be more difficult than giving it in person. It’s easy to misconstrue someone’s tone and think they didn’t like your answer when they really did. When you give feedback to your students, ensure that it is genuine and useful to your student. Personalise it where you can.

A note on feedback

Feedback is all about communication. To be meaningful, feedback should be as specific as possible.

But when you’re teaching in an online classroom, this can be tricky. Even providing broad statements such as ‘Well done guys, we’ve finished the first section!’ helps give students a sense of accomplishment.

Giving feedback is a fine balancing act. While it’s easy to go overboard with feedback if you don’t give enough. In an online class, students often feel disconnected from their teachers. It can be hard to know whether they really understand what’s going on or whether a student is simply skimming along without absorbing much.

Bonus Tip: Test the Technology First

This tip is last on the list but it’s a biggie.

Before you begin teaching an online course, give yourself a trial run. You’ll want to test your chosen technology and make sure it works smoothly on both your end and your students’.

If possible, hold a practice session where you can address any problems or issues as they arise. This way, once you start up with real students, everything will be smooth sailing.

Even if you’ve used the technology or software before, it’s always worthwhile going through it again just to make sure everything is working smoothly. No one likes to be sitting and having their time wasted whilst a teacher says that ‘it worked last time.’

Don’t leave things to chance. Test them and make sure everything works properly. And just in case, have a backup option. For example, if your breakout rooms don’t work, have another activity lined up so that your students don’t waste 15 minutes whilst you’re trying to fix the problem and they lose interest and learning time.


In conclusion, to ensure successful classroom management in the online classroom, make sure that you:

  • Start with a Proper Introduction
  • Help Students Cope With Online Distractions
  • Use Technology Wisely to Improve Focus
  • Establish and Enforce Ground Rules
  • Give Frequent Feedback
  • Test the Technology First

This post was proofread using Grammarly.

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