October 3, 2020
In my last post, I stated that our response to change is key. We cannot spend time lamenting about the way things were or spending time resisting change. We therefore, need to address the learning curve during this pandemic. Some of us have known that our lessons would be solely online and have planned for this; some of have prepared our lessons for hybrid learning and still others have planned to deliver in person learning all year. No matter what your situation is, the way we teach and learn is different. There is no way around this fact. Even if you are teaching in person, you and your students will likely be wearing masks, or you may be seeing your students through plexiglass shields. You may not have access to shared materials and collaboration between students may be limited.
Although teaching and learning is different, the main goal should be the same. “The goal of any type learning system, regardless of the delivery is to promote learning, therefore, before any learning materials are developed, educators must tacitly or explicitly know the principles of learning and how students learn. This is especially true for online learning, where instructors and learners are separated. The development of effective online learning materials should be based on proven and sound learning theories. The delivery medium is not the determining factor in the quality of learning per se; rather, course design determines the effectiveness of the learning” (Rovai, 2002).
“To select the most appropriate instructional strategies, the online developer must know the different approaches to learning. Strategies should be selected to motivate learners, facilitate deep processing, build the whole person, cater to individual differences, promote meaningful learning, encourage interaction, provide relevant feedback, facilitate contextual learning, and provide support during the learning process” (Anderson, 2011).
For those teaching online, there are a number of valuable insights I have gleaned through reading up on delivering lessons remotely. Here are some of my main takeaways:
- Practice your lesson before you deliver it. Practice retrieving files, having relevant tabs open and ensure you know which documents you will need and close those tabs that you won’t need.
- Clarity is king. Ensure you deliver clear expectations and provide plenty of opportunities for questions and confirmation of assignments.
- Ask students for feedback. This information will be invaluable to you in finding out if your microphone occasionally cuts out, if you are speaking too quickly, or if students have trouble finding where to find homework assignments, for example.
- Provide a camera-off period to allow those students who feel anxious or uncomfortable answering questions to take a break from being “on.”
- Create opportunities for students to teach. Students will gain confidence in their presentation skills, and it allows for students to learn from one another.
- Involve families where appropriate. If you are teaching school aged children, ensure you provide opportunities for families to understand the expectations of their child, which can alleviate stress on both sides. When parents feel valued and informed, they will be more willing to collaborate with you and help enhance learning for their child. In my son’s school we have weekly town hall meetings to offer information and to allow parents to ask questions of the principal.
Anderson, T. (2011). The Theory and Practice of Online Learning 2nd edition. Edmonton, Alberta: Library and Archives Canada.
Seltzer, K. (2020). Engaging Students in Virtual Instruction With the Camera Off. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/article/engaging-students-virtual-instruction-camera
Terada, Youki, (2020). 5 Research-Backed Tips to Improve Your Online Teaching Presence. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/article/5-research-backed-tips-improve-your-online-teaching-presence.