With the spread of coronavirus and uncertainty in the reopening of Schools, nationwide schools are asking teachers to move their classes online. Online teaching is new for many teachers, so is online learning for many students. For those who teach, the question is ….how? What should we be doing to make this as effective as possible for our Students?
Online teaching prevents us from using many of the classroom teaching strategies we’ve have become accustomed to. But think about what is possible. Forget about things we can’t do online. And take advantage of the opportunities that online teaching offers. If we take advantage of this new opportunity, we can help our students to be motivated and help them achieve their own goals. You need to set a tone for what the new normal will look like. Students will feel safer if they think we have things under control. But at the same time, we need to be flexible. Respond to their needs and interests. Change things up when they get bored or frustrated. It will take some students longer than others to adjust. But we will get better results with a supportive and understanding approach than we will by trying to force things. Because ultimately, we have very little power in an online classroom.
1.Focus on Engagement: Research has shown that children have an attention span of 10-15 minutes while watching a video. Hence you should ensure the teaching should be more through activities and problem -solving than by sharing information. They don’t want the teacher to explain for the entire 40minutes of the session. Keep the sessions short around 10-20 minutes, and then give them some activities. Let the students know that you’re there for them, while they are doing the activities.
2.Organize your Course Content Intuitively: Try to think like a student when you organize your course materials (teaching materials). Commonly, online students become confused, frustrated, and disengaged simply because you have not organized your course material. The design and sequence of the content and learning activities in both realms should be methodical, systematic, and purposeful.
3.Add Visual Appeal: Online classes suffer a well- earned reputation of being dry, ugly, boring, and unappealing. That’s why you need to give serious thought to the way your online content looks. You may be surprised at the impact a few small touches can make. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to enhance the presentation appearance. Do you have a lot of written notes or instructions? Break up long chunks of text with subheads and embed relevant images, thumbnail videos that you’ve created or sourced from YouTube. Aim for attractive yet appropriate.
4.Provide Examples: During an in-person class if students raise their hands and say they just don’t get the concept, you find another way to explain it. You come up with examples, maybe from another realm of life. That variety of examples and explanations helps learners grasp the information in a way that makes the most sense to them. Examples are even more crucial in online teaching.
5.Student Ownership: Cultivating student ownership is a critical feature of online classes. As teachers, we can present students with options and opportunities to learn. But we are not the ones responsible for their learning. Talk to students about ownership. Ask them their goals for online learning make them write down their goals and help them reflect their progress throughout the process. While shifting the ownership to the students, they also need room to fail. If a student misses a deadline, ask them guiding questions to help them reflect on the experience. Help to decide whether to revise the goals or simply extend the deadline.
6.Set Expectations: Remember, online students typically work by themselves. They can’t ask or, receive clarifications the moment they first encounter your assignment instruction. This is why you need to explain what you’re looking for as clearly as possible in an online class.
7.Be present: Make sure you participate in discussion threads. When a discussion is dying down, inject your thoughts into it to give it a boost. So be sure to give scaffolds and strategies to help students become more independent.
8.Establish Norms: Norms should be established early on. Involving students in the process and if they have to say in forming the rules, they will be more likely to follow them. Come up with some questions to guide the conversation. What is the appropriate dress for online classes? When and how should they ask questions? When to unmute the mike, and share their video? Will you use hand signals? In addition to class norms, establish norms for submission of assignments and taking online tests. Note the norms will evolve. Hence provide a structure at the beginning of every week.
9.Start Slowly: The shifting to online classes has been extremely sudden. We’ll need some time to adjust to this new norm of learning. The first week or two is going to be focused on the process of online learning. If you start at full speed, it will get messy. Focus first on keeping it fun, easy, and supportive. You can always pick the pace once the students are comfortable learning online.