People today are required to remain indoors while a menacing parasite parades its way across the world. Having brought entire countries to a standstill, the pandemic shows little signs of easing down.
As a consequence, schools and colleges are indefinitely shut and education has been seriously hindered.
Thanks to technology though, learning is still possible and booming.
During these testing times, educators across the country face yet another test: a paradigm shift towards online learning. We believe this is the time for teachers and students to adapt themselves to a way of learning that will definitely be the new ‘chalk & board’ of education in the near future. The same is asserted by Analytics India Magazine here.
Teachers are allowed to have doubts. And the change to online learning is followed by a natural series of such doubts. To help educators cope with the overwhelming switch to online learning, we have compiled a list of the essential practices that will help you be your regular best before a webcam as well.
1) Communication beyond lectures
In the world of learning, communication is the grand bow to the arrows of knowledge. While in a physical class, communication is seamless, doing the same online is more a challenge. You miss out on a lot from not having regular lectures in a classroom that lets you hover around and interact with the students. Although 21st-century tech won’t let you broadcast a hologram of yourself just yet, there are plenty of other ways to bridge the communication gap between you and the students.
- Fixating your communication medium in addition to providing a calendar of your availability beforehand is good practice.
- Emails, forums, discussion boards are just some means to keep your interaction fluid and your students updated.
- Also remember, because there is no direct communication, students might be confused or hesitant to let you know their doubts. In such cases, the responsibility of taking initiatives lies with the instructor
- Use WhatsApp to facilitate communication and make announcements. The ability to transfer files and documents accounts for coherent collaborative work
2) Make the lectures engaging
How do you ensure that your students are indeed paying attention during the lecture and not playing games on their phones while their webcam is off? If you want to skip the chaos of having everyone turn on their microphone and webcams in the meeting, you can choose the easier option – making your content more engaging. Well, that is a very easier-said-than-done solution. We know! That is precisely why we suggest increasing your students’ metacognition – the ability to assess and be aware of one’s thought processes. Metacognition plays a positive part in a student’s life. Its effect on online learning is just as vital.
Following tips will help boost metacognition:
- Make the students do their own work. Assigning them problems during the lecture will bind them to the session whilst also looking forward to it.
- Keep it interactive. Use charts, videos, demonstrations to avoid monotonous mundanity.
- Ask to-fro questions to specific students in between the lecture to increase participation and engagement.
- Bring the real world into your classroom by narrating real-life examples and applications. This can be done with the help of blogs, podcasts, or YouTube videos.
3) Using supplementary tools
Incorporating innovation beyond video lectures is the ideal rejoinder to tackle disengagement in lectures. There is a plethora of tools over the internet that can help you make your course more comprehensive. These are free accessible tools and we highly recommend adding them to your arsenal.
- Physics OpenStax Simulation: A simulation website that encompasses the basic phenomena of physics
- PhET Simulations: An interactive simulation website initiative by the University of Colorado Boulder
- Sixty Symbols: A YouTube channel featuring the most informing videos about physics and astronomy
- Minute Physics: Short interactive videos that you can integrate within your course to clear concepts
- Physics in Flux: Dan Fullerton through this blog provides a resource for teachers with detailed technology guides, and physics book reviews.
- Molview: An intuitive, Open-Source web-application to make chemistry more fun and engaging
- Pubchem: Explore chemical information in the world’s largest free chemistry database
- Compound Chem: Easy to understand graphics exploring everyday chemistry and beyond
- Periodic Videos: Enthralling videos about every element in the periodic table and more
- Wolfram General Chemistry: A comprehensive app for introductory chemistry and quick reference
- PhEt Simulations: Interactive simulations of mathematical concepts. An initiative by the University of Colorado Boulder
- Ck-12: An app to help students, and teachers improve K-12 learning globally by providing self-pace learning content & tools
- Khan Academy: Use this website curated by experts for free interactive lectures on concepts of maths
- Desmos: Graph functions, plot data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and much more. Teachers can even use this to design activities for their students
- PatrickJMT: Informing math videos as a supplement to your lectures
- BioInteractive: Real science stories and authentic data to engage students in exploring the living world
- Khan Academy: Learn biology through hundreds of videos, articles and practice questions
- iCell: An app that gives students, teachers, and anyone interested in biology a 3D view inside a cell
- PhET Simulations: Simulations of important biological systems and processes. An Initiative by the University of Colorado Boulder
Other Miscellaneous Tools
- TedEd: An educational platform that blends animation with learning. Teachers, students, and animators collaborate to create lessons worth sharing.
- Classmarker: Classmarker is an interactive tool that lets you design quizzes and tests. This can be used for the assessment of your students besides being a handy tool for creating forms as well.
- Google Family: The Family Link app from Google helps parents stay in the loop as their child or teen explores on their Android device. This can be especially useful when it comes to supervising students during online tests.
- Google Calendar: It is important for students to have their schedules fully organized. Google calendar makes it easy for teachers and students to sync lecture times, assignment deadlines, etc.
- Virtual Whiteboard: Miss your blackboard? An online whiteboard with real-time collaboration should suffice. Explain, sketch, teach anything.
4) That personal touch:
Every student is different. Every student learns differently. It cannot be expected for different students with differing abilities and interests to learn the same curriculum in the same time with the same amount of effort. However, as the education system prevalent in the country coerces educators to complete the syllabus regardless, the responsibility of paying personal attention to their students lies with the educators. While it may seem logistically unfathomable within conventional classrooms, it is much easier and laid out in the context of online learning. With personalized attention to some students, you can make sure that none of them is academically cut out.
Here is what you can do to give your teaching methods that personal touch whilst maintaining professionalism:
- Pay attention to less participating students. They generally show lesser participation because they feel alienated or out of place from the rest of the students. This happens when they might have missed out on some prior concepts. Take the initiative and ask these students if you can personally help them with anything (Here’s a detailed article from ResearchGate).
- Take the initiative to learn students’ doubts and academic problems. Hold revision
sessions for particular students.
- Send out personalized messages to students on discussion boards and forums. This gives them the impression that you are approachable and that they will not be ridiculed for having doubts.
- Conduct effective Parent-Teacher meets to boost parents’ involvement in your classroom and promote positive outcomes for your students. Parents are your lead in understanding your students’ academic shortcomings.
5) Gather Feedback
Learning over the internet far from the familiar environment of traditional classrooms is an unexplored forest for educators and students alike. Edoflip believes it is a forest with many possibilities. No doubt adapting will cost time, and it is only natural. During this time, it is paramount to know where you are going and what you are doing. Are your teaching methods effective? Are your students enjoying your content? The only judge of your methods is your classroom of students.
Therefore, it is important to gather their feedback. This will help you understand the areas you need to work on. It may be about using better assessment methods or inculcating different modes of communication. Take into consideration these recommendations and improvise accordingly. Understand the psychological importance of feedback in student-teacher learning with this case study by Columbia University.
Let us know the challenges you face in adapting to an online lifestyle of education. Edoflip is happy to help. Stay safe, keep learning.