Covid-19 has brought about a wave of changes in how society functions. The need for social distancing as a preventive measure dared businesses and institutions to come up with an alternative to address continuity at work.
This challenge has been met head-on by moving otherwise offline activities to the internet. This move, while has been a natural progression for some professions, has led to a paradigm shift in others.
Teaching has been traditionally characterized by one’s physical presence to promulgate an immersive learning experience. Proximity among teachers and pupils ensured active involvement of the latter. Now, with the absence of physical nearness, it can be tricky to navigate the rather novel challenges.
Here are some top tips that can prep you for teaching online:
Beginning a course while still unfamiliar with your online learning platform is the equivalent of walking into a classroom for the first time with a blindfold on. Every learning portal offers a set of tools that enable you to teach, interact with and engage your students. It is the teacher’s responsibility to know where the tools are and how to use them.
It is imperative to carve out a dedicated workspace, not just for yourself as a teacher, but for your students as well. Please encourage them to choose a table or their favorite corner, and make that their workspace.
The idea is for teachers and students to view their workspaces as distributed learning environments, which come together during discussions or lessons on a video call. It can lend the session the feeling of learning inside a physical classroom.
It is exciting to be more spontaneous in a classroom, but the same can be an inconvenience in an online setting, especially during a lockdown. It would help if you gave your students a clear picture of the syllabus, testing criteria and the interactive sessions, well in advance.
Particular challenges come with learning from home – distractions, responsibilities, and for some, living spaces that must be shared with other members of the family. It can be a lot easier to work around these if the students know what is expected of them at any given point in the course.
In an online training session, you may find it a task to keep all your students engaged and committed to the course. However, you can come up with innovative ways — a motley crew of assignments and discussions, for example — to keep them invested throughout the day.
This way, students will be able to integrate a significant share of their coursework with their schedules. That being said, you may need to enforce strict deadlines for some asynchronous activities. However, chances are you will find an overall increase in participation from the students.
Shy students will find it a struggle to blend with the class when it is happening online. You need to ensure that every student understands the concepts you teach. Luckily, an online environment offers a plethora of data about student participation and interaction.
It would be best if you took advantage of this to understand better the progress your students make and work extra with the ones that seem to be falling behind.
The quickest way to get better at teaching online is to observe student participation and ask for meaningful feedback. Understand the methods that work for them; treat that as a blueprint for fine-tuning your strategy.
Apart from your students, you should speak to colleagues about their most successful methods and feel free to try them out for yourself.
Teaching online is unfamiliar territory. The need for physical distancing will drive teachers to motivate themselves to get better at their work. Creativity and persistence will be key traits that separate successful operators from their unoriginal peers.