Three Positive Expectations for Online Learning Courses

by | Language Training

With experience in language instruction comes the art of clearly conveying the subtle nuances of words, and lately I have been reminding myself of the difference between assumptions and expectations while designing online learning courses. I tell myself assumptions are accepted truths without evidence, whereas expectations are anticipated hopes for the future. In my last blog, I discussed avoiding assumptions, but it is equally as important for instructors to set expectations for students, specifically positive expectations. Positive expectations can be defined here as expectations students can reasonably carry out to ensure a positive outcome and below are three that do just that.

A Stable Internet Connection

Expecting students to check the connectivity of the place where they plan to have a lesson is a reasonable request that can reduce cancellations due to technical issues. For example, coffee shops have turned into the 21st-century office and can be a productive if not a more productive alternative to a cubicle. They can also be a great place to take online learning courses. However, remind students to make sure the location’s wifi’s strength and quality are sufficiently reliable. Obviously, the same applies to you, the instructor.

An Appropriate Device

Smartphone capabilities are impressive, to say the least, and they can be a great means to add convenience to taking online learning courses. However, not all smartphones are created equal, and a phone that does not allow chat boxes to be visible, documents to be annotated, or is not large enough to comfortably navigate may take away from the lesson. It is the instructor’s responsibility to let students know how to interact with the lesson and set expectations for what is needed. If writing will be repeatedly given as homework, it is necessary to mention the need for a keyboard.


As society increasingly moves towards operating online, so does the need to remind students that the same expectations for attendance apply as an in-person class. For some, interacting remotely may be a completely new world where they may feel lost at times, and it’s completely reasonable for them to expect guidance along the way. However, once how to enter online learning courses are clearly understood, the same etiquette and policies apply. For example, missing a lesson because they lost the calendar invite for the week should not be considered a valid excuse.

Setting Expectations Leads to Success in Online Learning Courses

It’s important to remember that these are positive expectations put in place to maximize results and should be framed in a positive way. Explain how these expectations will benefit them, and how important it is for you as an instructor to make them feel comfortable. They should think of the expectations as tools rather than impositions.

Ryan is an onsite and online English instructor for Workplace Languages. Ryan has been in the field of English language instruction since 2006 teaching, developing, creating and leading in a variety of settings including public school systems, universities and private institutions.  In addition to language classes, Workplace Languages offers full-service translationvoice-over services, off-the shelf language learning products, and a wide range of customized language programs to help you close the communication gap at your company.

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