Distance learning makes education more accessible and affordable in order to answer to the current educational challenges. As the pandemic resulted in schools shut all across the world, the availability and success of e-learning platforms nowadays are on the rise.
We are now facing the largest online movement and most educators were caught unprepared for this shift, having no previous training, little preparation, or poor user experience. The ugly truth behind this story is the fact that most teachers are not confident using technology and that disadvantaged children are not able to attend classes due to lack of internet access. This is a gap seen across all countries.
However, having online classes in this situation is better than not having at all and can still lead to positive growth. Teachers’ focus needs to change direction towards verbs such as to try, to learn, to help, to advise, to fix, to recover as it is inevitable that from now on schools will combine the traditional classrooms with the online ones. Dear teachers, you have to seek the capacity of moving the school in the on-line field. Create it where it does not exist, consolidate it where it does.
Most schools do not have a dedicated, unitary platform at the institution level and teachers might feel overwhelmed by the wide educational resources available for free (some of them can be seen on Bett Show page). However, we believe that online teaching needs a well structured-environment as well, with strong pedagogical practices. Therefore, we have prepared some tips for you to organize better in this new environment:
1. Choose your teaching style:
As a teacher, you can go for the synchronous style, asynchronous one or hybrid (a combination of both).
The synchronous way implies that your class will be an online course with face to face meetings where students are engaging at the same time, this encourages the whole classroom engagement in real-time.
The asynchronous method gives students the chance to work at their own pace to complete the tasks given. If you choose the asynchronous style make sure you do not deliver a tremendous quantity of materials and that your videos are not too long and dull (maximum 15 minutes in length instead of 60 minutes or longer).
2. Follow your students’ engagement
During an online class, it becomes a bit difficult to see if your students are paying attention the same way they do when in a classroom.
However, no matter the style you choose for online teaching, you can still create an interactive atmosphere within your virtual classes through discussion forums, small group work. Encourage them to formulate investigative questions, allow your students to choose their assignments, introduce topic questions that generate meaningful insights, ask for feedback, and set guidelines for posting in the forum/chat.
3. Communication methods
In other words, choose your weapon, as solutions for increasing communication are generous these days. The most used strategies are email, social media, and LMS (learning management system).
The email usually provides an easy way to archive all your correspondence and, at times it can become overwhelming if you only stick with this approach.
The social media technique (Facebook or WhatsApp groups) might become too intrusive and your personal life will mingle with the professional one even outside the working hours.
Classes held with the help of an e-learning platform represent the easiest way to keep track of all your activities and participants, allowing you to deliver interactive educational materials while monitoring in real-time the learner’s progress.
For example, Hypertalk Education provides a virtual classroom, virtual library, virtual laboratory, online assessment, and the content authoring tool, as you can see here.
4. Assess learning
It is important to prepare your means of assessment and prepare them ahead. As suggested above, you can go for group work on various topics, online tests/quizzes, essays to submit online, discussion board – forum discussions replace the in-class talks or seminars, online learning assignments: read or watch, then respond on-demand.
Offering and seeking out continued education in any form brings teachers additional benefits:
- Useful/relevant new skills in teaching – change the mindset, adapt to any context, face the online education and increase your comfort with technology
- Networking – extend your connections and collaborate with other education professionals. Through innovative online teaching courses, you can meet fellow education professionals faster than the traditional learning way
- Visibility – access a wider audience and become a leading expert in education technology, open new opportunities that are mutually beneficial to teachers, educational institutions, and students alike.
- Flexibility – set a schedule that fits everyone’s agenda for a better balance between work, studies, and personal life. Your time management skills improve as most e-learning platforms come with a certain time frame for the online sessions
According to Statista and based on UNESCO’s latest figures, more than 1.3 billion learners around the world were affected by the current circumstances and were not able to attend school or university since March 2020. In any adversity, there is an opportunity, and today’s relief is that in response to significant demand, online learning platforms are offering free access to their services. No matter how skeptical one can be of online learning, it is the time to embrace it and truly use it for students to learn and evolve no matter the challenges they face.