University of Phoenix: Five Skills Instructors Need to Help Students Thrive in Virtual Lessons

Recent events have seen transformative change in the ways that instructors teach and the ways that students learn, especially given the digital learning environments that many instructors cultivated during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Digital technologies have set the scene for virtual learning and accessible education, which have opened doors to learning opportunities for prospective students across the United States and beyond.

However, digital learning does not come without its challenges. Here, we’ll explore five skills that University of Phoenix recommends instructors practice to overcome the challenges associated with virtual lessons. The University also offers several professional development courses that instructors can take to develop invaluable skills to teach virtual classes.

1. Communicate Clearly and Teach Communication Skills

University of Phoenix explained that good communication is important not only because it allows instructors to empower students but also because clear communication is integral to the learning process. However, technical challenges, like poor internet connection, and psychological challenges, like not feeling a physical connection with an instructor, can arise during virtual learning, hindering communication between instructors and students.

Therefore, instructors must be clear and concise in both their verbal and written communication. They should check that no students in a virtual group are left behind and always leave time for questions in their lessons. On top of this, instructors can encourage students to repeat what they hear others say to make sure they have understood the important takeaways in a discussion. Instructors should also encourage communication among students to help them build and uphold relationships with their peers. When students develop good communication skills, they can engage in a back-and-forth dynamic and fully understand what everyone is saying.

2. Identify and Support Students Who Need Extra Help

When teaching in person, it can be easier for instructors to identify students who need additional support and adjust the lesson to help these students grasp the learning outcomes. And in this situation, it’s easy for a student to stay after the class for extra support and guidance. However, remote learning makes these spontaneous interactions more difficult. Typically, instructors and students close their laptops at the end of a class and move on to their next task.

As a result, University of Phoenix shared that instructors should take note of students who need extra support during virtual lessons and ensure these students receive further help. This is especially important given that many students do not tell their instructors when they are struggling. When instructors identify students who need extra resources or one-on-one support, they can give these students the help they need. What’s more, discussing a student’s digital education in one-to-one interactions can give instructors the information they need to improve their curriculums.

Instructors can also support students by showing an interest in their opinions and concerns, which often leads to opportunities to connect and communicate. Starting these important conversations can make all the difference for students who have not grasped key concepts.

3. Encourage Good Time Management Habits

Although following a timetable is usually relatively simple in a school or university, sticking to an online schedule can be more difficult. Fluid schedules may seem more appealing to begin with, but a lack of consistency can, over time, see students slip out of their routines and fall behind.

To help students uphold good time management skills, instructors can plot simple virtual timetables that avoid confusion, look out for signs of students who are struggling with time management and work to resolve their individual habits, encourage students to use physical or digital planners, and ask students to complete work in small chunks, perhaps by using the Pomodoro method.

4. Experiment with Technologies and Plan Achievable Goals

2020 saw educational organizations all over the world introduce digital lessons within days. Although technology provided important learning opportunities that allowed students to reach their educational goals during the pandemic, the quick implementation of virtual schooling could not guarantee an entirely smooth transition and, as a result, put immense pressure on many instructors and students.

Although the course materials did not always need to change between physical and virtual classrooms, instructors did need to adopt new lesson plans and engagement strategies. As many instructors continue to face this challenge when planning virtual lessons, University of Phoenix recommended trialing technologies to determine which are most effective for students. Instructors can also set achievable goals and roadmaps toward these goals to help them build trust with their students.

5. Encourage Patience

Instructors need to be patient when guiding students through a curriculum and ensuring they don’t leave anyone behind. Meanwhile, students need to be patient as they work through these curriculums, which often challenge them as they develop and learn. However, remote learning limits one-to-one support and can make staying patient difficult for everyone involved.

University of Phoenix explained that instructors can help students stay patient by gradually introducing skills over time to avoid overwhelming them. Instructors can also prepare backup plans to offer alternative teaching methods when students do not grasp the methods when first taught. It’s important to be flexible and accept changes as they arise. On top of this, instructors can help students stay patient by reminding them that learning the skills in question can benefit their careers. This way, they can nurture a positive virtual education experience for all students.

Learn about University of Phoenix’s Foundations in Virtual Teaching program.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix helps adult and nontraditional learners pursue their educational goals and find degree programs that best suit their interests. These programs align with several in-demand career paths in niches like cybersecurity, nursing and business, and they provide flexible start dates, online classes and scholarship opportunities so anyone can earn the degree they need. In addition, the University’s Career Services for Life® commitment provides the resources alumni need to at no additional charge. To learn more, visit