Teaching online with the extra technologies can be quite difficult so it is always good to know where you can get support. To save you the time I have compiled a list of places for your to look for help.
To get support when teaching online you have the options of either free or paid. Some free options are social media, website forums and offline meetup groups. Some paid options are supplied with a specific software tool or service.
Here is the list of support options we will look at in more detail below:
Free Support Options
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Groups
- Website Forums
- Offline Meetup Groups
Paid Support Options
- Software & Hardware
- Third Party Website
- Paid CMS or LMS
- Website Plugins
- Hire Staff
Free Support Options
If you are learning a new subject or doing research where you don’t have a deadline for a boss or customer this is a great way to get some free support. Building a trusted community of peers will help you fix most of your problems as long as you understand that buck stops with you when using these methods.
Not only are the social media accounts a great way to grow your professional networks but they are also a great way to solve problems that span two suppliers. If you are having a problem with two suppliers blaming each other for a problem, diplomatically post your question to social media and include both of their hash tags and it will often incite them to action.
The name and shame not only gets action from the suppliers if done right but there it also allows other people with similar problems to voice their issues or another industry professional to answer your question as well.
When looking for help the first place you can go is Facebook Groups. Whether you are searching for eLearning groups or groups on teaching online there are plenty of them available.
Search terms you could use are: Teach online, teaching jobs, elearning or any product that you use for creating online teaching content. If you look at the products on the resources tab these are also good group search terms to use.
Unlike Facebook where everyone has a personal account the LinkedIn Groups are professional networks and you should be part of these groups as you can see where people work and what qualifications they have.
The conversation is normally more work related as well and the advice given is from working professionals. The same search terms you used for Facebook groups you can use in Linked in but just make sure you click the groups tab when the search results come back.
While Twitter is often known for celebrity gossip there is a growing community of professionals on there as well. It provides a method of instant response rather than the post and wait that you do with Facebook and LinkedIn most of the time.
Keep in mind when you sign up for an account to avoid getting into fights with people as everything is public to the internet. Keep it professional as future employers do look at your social media accounts prior to hiring these days.
The biggest hash tags for education are
- #Class / room
For more Teaching Online look at
- #eLearning (trending away from e-learning)
When you are using Twitter a great free tool to organise your twitter account and you can use it in a webpage without having to download it is TweetDeck (https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/). It was a third party tool but is now fully intregrated with Twitter.
While not a big place for conversations there are still heaps of articles you can pin to remind you how to do important tasks when teaching online. It has a huge following especially with certain demographics and is a great way to keep lists of key solutions to problems you may want to keep.
We can’t talk about social media without talking about YouTube. While you can chat in comments and follow the same companies that you searched for above in Facebook and LinkedIn groups you can get their new tips and tricks in a video format.
Some of the live streaming events on conferences are worth signing up for as well to keep up to date with what is happening in the industry. When these events are on you will be in chats or comment groups and meet people to expand your professional networks.
There is literally an abundance of Website Forums for you to choose from for asking questions for free including the most popular like Redit and Quora.
The other forums are on the product websites for every product that you use for teaching online from Web Conferences to eLearning packaging software and much more. If a company tries to charge you for access to their forum just post the same question to their social media accounts and you will get the answer you are after without having to pay.
Offline Meetup Groups
While we are looking at teaching online there are plenty of support groups that meet in the real world that discuss how to do this as well. Websites like Meetup.com you can meet like minded professionals in person for those that like contact with real people and it is worth searching in your area to see what is around.
There is normally an education or eLearning group in most cities in the world that are a nice way to merge the social and the professional. Why not have friends interested in the same topics as you?
Paid Support Options
Remember these options always come with a service level agreement and guarantee a resolution in a specific time frame.
Software & Hardware Support
Whether you are purchasing software like eLearning packaging or graphics packages or hardware like microphones and headsets you normally get some limited support as well as the ability to purchase additional yearly support.
With hardware this limited support is normally included for the first year or two but with software packages this is normally an extra. Always ask for a discount on support as they have a large margin of around 70% to allow for such discounts.
Then make sure you use the support contract. Give it to your staff or use it yourself and don’t hide the support contract details. It is great for someone learning to call up and get an answer that saves them hours of researching it themselves.
This is really important if you have deadlines. Also with Software there are always bugs and the ability to log one with the supplier and have a hot fix released is well worth the money.
If you look at the list of software products on the Resources Page above and look at some of the paid products this will provide you with examples of the paid support options.
Third Party Website Support
If you are working through a third party website like a tutoring, course, content or services provider that takes a commission from what you earn then they typically supply support.
They have a nested interest in helping you provide a quality product and will often go out of their way to help you including putting up training videos support email and phone numbers for you.
So whether you are using Udemy.com, Tutor.com or one of many other third party websites don’t forget they are there to help you as well and have active communities of like minded professionals that can provide you with the exact help you need.
Paid LMS or CMS Support
When delivering content online you will no doubt use and LMS and whether you use a paid LMS or an Open Source one they both have support pages on their websites. The paid LMS products also have support desks where the fees are normally built into your monthly or yearly fees that you pay. So add this to your list of support contacts and websites to keep in mind when a problem occurs.
All of these CMS & LMS products also have a social media presence that you can use as another method of contacted them for support. Most medium to large size companies employ someone to monitor these accounts and will push your support request through to the right part of their team. We discuss more about the LMS products that are available in the article called What are the common features of Learning Management Systems.
Third Party Plugin Support
If you are using a Content Management System (CMS), Learning Management System (LMS) or your own custom website to deliver training online you will be using paid plugins and themes.
When you use these tools you can get limited free support or full support for the first year and then you can extend this each year that you pay for it.
This is another great way to get support if you are using an Open Source or Free LMS as they will support the features of their plugin which is normally the LMS plugin for a CMS website.
There is a massive pool of Freelancers now that can help you fix pretty much any problem you can think of for a relatively cheap price on websites like Fiverr or Freelancer. You can hire them for a single engagement or you can pay them for regular maintenance and problem solving for you.
They will even set up your CMS or LMS and provide all the plugins and set up the theme so you are ready to teach online and you can focus on the most important thing which is the content.
They will also remote control your computer and fix any software problems or help you with your projects if required as well as doing the whole project for you if you need them too.
This ability to have people fix the little problems along the way means you and your staff are more productive. Not all freelancers have the skills needed to fix the problem and make sure you do some research and chat with the people offering their services prior to just paying them.
If the problem is too small this process can take some time so you are better bundling your issues before posting a job for them to help you with.
Hiring staff is the most expensive option and unless the right person is hired you still may not get the support you need either technically or for your delivery and instructional design. I have personally seen companies pay the top 1% salaries to get poor performing staff so salary you pay does not determine the quality and skills of the person you hire.
Always have a good list of what you are expecting from a new hire and have someone involved to act as a technical expert if you are not one yourself. Put them on a probationary period and don’t be afraid to make it 6 to 12 months and be serious about the process. This will not phase staff that have the skills but will make people that don’t think twice before accepting the job.
When searching for your new hire reach out to your LinkedIn and the industry groups and software company forums to see who is looking and that way you are already narrowing the type of applicants you are looking for. We have upcoming articles on each of the job roles you may hire for and the skills you should expect from them being released soon so keep an eye out for them.