Back in 2017, research data predicted the boom of the global e-learning market, saying it would reach $325 billion by 2025.
2020 is outside, and the black swan known as COVID-19 seems to get this ball rolling: More and more people and corporations choose online education and training, not only because of its comfort and flexibility but also safety.
This trend encourages teachers to adjust to new conditions; most of them start thinking about creating and selling online courses, practicing distance schooling, or earning extra money by planning online lessons for corporate trainers.
But, the catch is that an effective lesson plan for online trainees is not the same as for traditional students.
In this article, we’ll reveal the features and structure of a perfect lesson plan and share actionable tips on how to write a lesson plan for different groups of online learners.
All educators and corporate trainers write lesson plans to ensure that they address the requirements of the curriculum (when in school or university), plan their teaching time effectively, and address student needs based on their prior knowledge and learning style.
When you work in a school or any other educational institution, they may have one general template for teachers to fill in for lesson planning. But when you teach online, you’ll have to come up with those templates on your own, taking into consideration all the critical components we’ll discuss below.
As far as you’ll work with learners in virtual classrooms, you also need to think about how you’ll hold their attention during a lesson and what tricks you’ll use to motivate them to visit your next class and finish the course. (According to statistics, 93% of students give up online courses, and one of the reasons is because of their low-quality lessons!)
The Components of Lesson Plans
So, before you take a seat and start writing, make sure you know and include all the critical components of lesson planning.
They are seven, derived from the Hunter Model (named after Madeline Hunter, an education writer and UCLA professor, who initially developed it).
Your students will be most motivated and learn best when they know what they are going to learn and why they need this knowledge. So, the first component of your lesson plan will be a specification of learning objectives — goals for your students and takeaways they’ll get after your lesson.
In plain English, it is the answer to the question, “What will my students be able to do after completing my lesson?”
It will allow you to specify clear lesson objectives. Based on them, you’ll understand what lesson model to use, what materials or tasks to give, and how to measure student success for better results.
As a way to make the process of writing your learning objectives more straightforward, feel free to use the strategy that we all know as S.M.A.R.T:
This model is standard for business and startup resources, but it also works in the context of lesson planning. The S.M.A.R.T. criteria suggest you specify the objectives that will be:
This worksheet from Wayne State University will help you specify learning objectives for your every lesson. Just fill it in, answering the questions on behalf of your students: What will my students achieve? How will they know when it’s done? And so on.
2 Anticipatory set
This component goes first in some lesson plan formats, as it refers to specifying something that will grab the students’ attention so they would get involved and excited about the upcoming lesson. For schools with a healthy environment for education, the anticipatory set becomes a mission; not only they strive to organize it in lessons but in the whole learning process in general.
Anticipatory set refers to a short activity that helps a teacher to draw the students’ attention before the lesson begins. When writing your lesson plan, think about what it could be in your particular case: a question about their prior knowledge, a handout (for online courses, it becomes digital, of course), an example problem, etc.
The idea is to focus student attention on your lesson. So, when thinking about this component of your lesson plan, make sure your anticipation set is:
Also, make sure your anticipatory set will reappear during a lesson, and you’ll refer back to it here and there. It will help students get the point.
This component refers to a lesson procedure. Often prepared as an essay outline, input modeling specifies the list of steps a teacher will follow to present learning materials. So, here you write about how your lesson will progress during your online course session.
What does a teacher need to specify?
In plain English, input modeling is your step-by-step instructions for what you will do through a lesson, from the time students enter a class until the bell (real or virtual) rings.
For a lesson to be successful, you’ll need to know if students understand what you’re saying. So please include some questions or any other signals in your lesson plan that you’ll use during a lesson to check the students’ understanding.
It can be simple questions such as, “Is everything clear?” or “Should I move forward or back up?”
Or, in the case with online courses, you can try the “answer before we proceed” tactic: for example, add a quiz or mini-exame before the next section. Once you’ve finished explaining the concept, provide students with a survey on the screen: They’ll see a question you’ve just discussed and a few variants of answers to choose. Once done, you continue a lesson.
Here’s what it looks like in The Science of Well-Being course from Yale University at Coursera:
These are exercises you’ll provide students so that they could demonstrate their grasp of new knowledge under your direct supervision. Consider the tripodal, see-hear-do approach when choosing the practices for this component of your lesson:
These are exercises or materials students will do and examine without the need for your supervision or intervention.
In traditional schools, it’s homework or seatwork assignments. In online courses, it may be homework as well as tests, lists of references and notes for further learning and self-study, actions to practice at home, etc.
No matter what you choose, make sure these exercises are relevant to learning objectives you’ve specified before, and remember to include this independent practice in your lesson plan.
And finally, here goes the last but not least component to include when writing your lesson plan: a closure. It’s a step when a teacher wraps all the things up, reviewing the main points of the lesson and asks if students have understood everything.
This component is like a concluding part of your essay or book: Think of a series of statements or actions that will help students bring the material together and organize their learning better.
And now that you know all the critical components to have in your lesson plan, let’s go to its overall structure.
The top three items to include in your lesson plan are learning objectives, timing, and materials you’ll use. Depending on how much time you have and how many students are in a class, your lesson plans may vary.
The basic structure of a lesson plan is as follows:
When it comes to writing lesson plans for corporate training, a teacher also needs a clear understanding of who their students are. As a rule, corporate training is for business development purposes, and organizations choose it for employees so they would grow the necessary skills. So the better you understand your trainees and their learning styles, the more efficient your lesson plans will be.
With that said, your first and foremost element of a lesson plan for corporate training will be the answer to the question:
“Who are my students?”
It includes their interests, learning styles, — are they visual, auditory, tactile, or a combination? — and any special needs they may require during your lessons. Make sure to know what online software they’ll use to train with you: Its features will allow you to get a better idea of what types of learning materials you’ll be able to use during lessons.
Also, please check if you understand what your corporate students already know. Their prior knowledge of your subject can help to plan lessons by far. Test them before the start of your online course, master class, or webinar to see their level and understand what topics or materials you’ll need to cover.
Based on all the above information in this article, your lesson plan for corporate training may center around the K.I.S.S. model:
Long story short, here goes your step-by-step instruction on how to write a lesson plan:
1) Write down the objective
If wondering how to write a lesson plan objective, think of a statement that would describe what your students will be able to do after completing your course. It needs to be short, simple, and up to a point. Think of it as a thesis statement: Outline the main ideas you want to cover in your lesson.
2) Write a lesson overview
Outline your lesson: what hook you will use to warm-up the students, what big ideas you’ll cover to explain the topic, etc.
3) Schedule your timeline
Break your lesson plan into sections, depending on how much time you have to cover the topic. Therefore you’ll know where you can speed up or slow down to control the process. For example:
And here go some actionable tips on how to prepare for your lesson better:
All teachers, no matter if they educate online or offline, prepare lesson plans to make sure their training sessions will run smoothly. Depending on students they teach and the timeline they have on their hands, educators set learning objectives, break the material up into sections, and choose learning activities that will be suitable for each trainee.
When looking for information on how to write a lesson plan, you may find tons of templates available online. Given that the basic format of a lesson plan has been around for years already, you can use those templates once or twice to get a general idea of lesson planning. And yet, you’ll have to adjust them to different classes, different training formats, and different student groups.
It’s critical to be flexible: Trainees are different, and they may respond to the same material differently. As a responsible teacher, you need to consider all the above-described aspects and determine the best format for your lesson plans to fit the students’ needs.