4 Key Aspects of Teaching an Online Class
The development of a productive programme for online education can be beneficial to both students and instructors. As someone who has spent their entire career in education teaching in the virtual space, I can attest to the fact that doing so necessitates a combination of skills, including expertise in lesson planning and assessment, flexibility in understanding what learning can look like in a virtual space, and faith in the capacity of students to rise to the occasion when given adequate support.
In the end, we hope that students will take responsibility for and initiative in their own education, which is an even more pressing requirement in an online environment. In traditional classrooms, students engage in face-to-face activities, which their teachers can easily observe and monitor. On the other hand, students in virtual classrooms are physically separated from both their peers and their teachers. As a result, teachers need to be very deliberate about monitoring how well their students are performing.
The following is a list of important aspects of developing a culture of virtual learning that will be discussed further below:
DEVELOP AN OFFLINE LEARNING PLAN FOR STUDENTS’ INDEPENDENT WORK
When students work on assignments during offline or asynchronous time, they do so according to a schedule that is personalised to their needs. The assignments range from the more conventional to the more modern forms of multimedia, such as viewing demos or videos of lectures, listening to or reading articles and stories, and providing answers to questions in the form of written responses, audio recordings, or video recordings. The students publish their assignments on an online platform for the teacher as well as their classmates to read, respond to, and provide feedback on.
These are not live sessions in which everyone takes part at the same time; rather, participants finish their work and post their communications at various times throughout the day (and night, in the case of teens). The schedule is flexible and adapts to the needs of each individual student. Some of the tools for communication that are utilised are online message boards, email, and apps for instant messaging.
Students are expected to acquire new knowledge and demonstrate their comprehension during their time spent offline learning. They spend the majority of their time working alone, which can be difficult. Students need to be guided and coached by their teachers so that they can develop the skills and experience necessary to work independently and track their own progress.
I was able to achieve success by concentrating on the four points that are listed below.
1. Put in place the necessary structures. When adjusting to a virtual environment, many students have difficulty effectively managing their work time and remaining productive. To assist them in comprehending the breadth of the work and the significant stepping stones they will reach along the way, you should give them checklists that detail the individual steps required to finish the task. Carry out check-ins in order to monitor progress on checklists and gather assessment data on the development of the students.
Make use of a learning platform such as Google Classrooms, Schoology, or Canvas to keep track of all of your assignments, which should be filed away in folders according to the units or ideas being covered. Students and their parents should not have any trouble obtaining the necessary checklists and evaluations. Include discussion boards and/or links to external dialogue tools such as Flipgrid, and encourage students to discuss, review, and post links and other content that supports their learning. Discussion boards and links to external dialogue tools can be found here.
2. Offer a variety of assignment or task formats. When the purpose of the work is for students to build understanding, apply concepts thoughtfully, analyse information, evaluate value, and/or synthesise new ideas or expressions, assigning mostly worksheets or reading questions is not the best course of action. This runs the risk of learners disengaging from the work due to boredom or frustration because this approach does not create a path toward understanding.
Provide students with a variety of learning opportunities so that they can construct their own knowledge and apply it. For instance, you could offer a recorded lecture, two or three videos, and two readings that are all related to the subject. The students are required to listen to the lecture, and then they will pick and choose which of the remaining content options they will complete. Or, you could provide the learner with two or three options for completing a task, such as writing, recording a video, or building a slide deck with the help of tools such as Seesaw, Flipgrid, or Adobe Spark. To ensure that all students are able to find a path to comprehension, provide links to reading assignments written at varying reading levels. Tools such as Newsela, News in Levels, and Rewordify are some examples of such tools.
Instruction from Teacher Daniel Shanley delivered online with a Lord of the Rings-themed virtual backdrop.
Thanks to Daniel Shanley for providing this.
When Dan Shanley, an English teacher at a high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, creates videos to pique the interest of his students in the subject, he immerses himself in fictional settings. At this moment, he is standing in front of Bilbo Baggins’ front door.
Give students a say in how they should be taught when they are working independently from home. This will increase their level of engagement. One approach is to give students the freedom to choose the method by which they will demonstrate their knowledge through the products they create. Students, for instance, can use Minecraft Education to construct models that illustrate mathematical concepts, as well as historical and literary events. By recording a video using the Google Chrome extension Screencastify, they are able to explain mathematical problems, scientific experiments, as well as social and literary concepts. Learners of any age can model and explain their thinking by simply using a video app on their phone, and then they can upload it to the learning platform that is used in the classroom to share with their classmates.
3. Don’t sugarcoat it: The material should be geared toward real-world applications beyond the classroom. Integrate career-related activities, such as memorandums, profit-and-loss statements, business plans, laboratory experiments, survey statistics, or recorded presentations, into the coursework students are required to complete. Find a group of people in the local community whose jobs are relevant to the topics that are going to be covered in class, or assign the students a target audience relevant to the activities they will be performing. The concentration could be on a single assignment in order to instruct a skill or on the overall unit examination. Try out different modes of instruction such as authentic learning experiences, learning through projects, learning design thinking, or learning through games. Making the content relevant to the lives of the students can help engage them in the activities.
4. Make the work public by curating and publishing it for a specific audience, such as the local community or organisations, which are likely to benefit from or appreciate a different point of view. Students who participate in community service are shown that their opinions are valued, and the opportunity to have their work published demonstrates to them the significance of their capacity for critical thinking and curriculum analysis.
It is possible to make students’ work publicly accessible by placing it in a Google folder that is restricted to “view only” and then publishing the link on the school website and sharing it on social media. You could also use a website that faces the public, such as a blog, a YouTube channel, or another site. Learners have a tendency to take their work more seriously and carefully when the goal is to publish it for an audience that extends beyond the classroom and the school.
Check the guidelines established by your school or district before making the work of your students available to the general public. Check to see which parents have provided written consent for the publication of their child’s name, as well as their child’s work and likeness. Most of the time, only the students’ first names are mentioned, and even then, it is not in the same space as the student’s appearance. Additionally, it is not uncommon for students to invent a screen name or pen name to be used in place of their actual name. Only those who have parental permission in the form of a signed waiver should be published, and even then, it is common courtesy to let parents know what your intentions are. Give them the option of either supporting the publication or declining to do so. Explain to the parents that the purpose of publishing students’ work is to teach them how to make a positive impact on their community by contributing their ideas in the role of an author.
REAL-TIME MEETINGS ARE FOR COACHING
Live support is an essential component of blended learning environments. The approach that the teacher takes should be determined by what the desired result is. Some instructors make themselves available online during office hours for one-on-one and small-group coaching sessions. Some instructors choose to meet with their classes once or twice per week rather than on a daily basis, and they do this by dividing the students into halves or other portions. Rather than meeting with thirty or more students all at once, these approaches make it possible to meet the needs of the students and facilitate their participation.
If you need to give a lecture, you can do so via a regular webinar with the class present; however, you may find it more beneficial to record it so that students can watch it when they are not connected to the internet. Coaching should take priority over other activities during the limited time you have with each student.
addressing learning gaps: Meet with students grouped by skill need or in small groups for more individualised support to address essential learning gaps in core curriculum outcomes. Meeting with students in small groups can be helpful in addressing learning gaps. When students are having difficulty, it is easy for teachers to see it in the classroom. When students are working from a distance, you can use the assessment data from their offline work and conversations to identify and address any gaps in their knowledge during real-time meetings.
When you notice that some students are achieving at a higher rate than others, you should give those students individualised opportunities to continue their development. If this does not happen, the students may develop boredom and stop completing their assignments.
To encourage students to acquire more in-depth knowledge, you can use real-time meetings to guide their reflections on the ideas presented in the curriculum. As a result, the final projects that students develop to demonstrate their comprehension of the material will be more intricate and well-executed. Make the time more interesting by drawing connections to real-world experiences, such as conducting interviews with experts from a variety of fields. Utilize asynchronous activities that students have already finished, such as virtual museum tours, as a foundation upon which to expand upon and investigate concepts further.
During class meetings, use your mediating skills to clear up any confusion that may have arisen and encourage students to share both what they already know and what they still don’t get. Make use of digital folders to set up virtual stations or centres. These should include activities that can be completed in real time or offline and support a variety of knowledge gaps and extension opportunities.
RESPONSIVE FEEDBACK IS CRITICAL
Students often have misunderstandings when they work on their own, so it is essential that they receive feedback so that they can make revisions. Take into consideration the following timing guide when providing feedback:
E-mails, texts, and instant messages have a response time of between thirty minutes and two hours: When students ask for assistance with offline responsibilities, they require a prompt response from those who can provide it. When they are working on tasks and run into a learning gap, do not understand the directions, or do not have the necessary resource, they require a prompt response in order to continue working. Students might get the impression that they are not being supported if they wait until the next real-time session, despite the fact that by asking for assistance, they are demonstrating that they are responsible for their own learning. This is because the next session might take place too late. Inform your students of your working hours and the times when they can expect a prompt response; however, you are not required to respond immediately to a message sent at midnight.
The turnaround time can be up to three hours after the discussion events have been posted: When students are taking part in a timed event in which they are required to respond to each other’s posts within a certain amount of time, such as three to six hours, the instructor should also write some posts during the event in order to show visibility. Students will understand from this that “I am monitoring what you are posting.”
Teachers should also make a post after the event to honour their students’ participation; to encourage further participation, they should include a question that requires students to reflect on their previous experiences in their responses.
A turnaround time of between twenty-four and forty-eight hours for the submission of assignments: It is important to give students feedback on the tasks they have completed so that they can either improve their work or determine whether or not they are ready for the next level of tasks. When feedback is provided at a later stage, it may be too late to influence a learner’s reflection on their own work, particularly if the learner has moved on to other tasks in the meantime. Students are provided with practise that is based on the professional feedback of both their teacher and their peers when using virtual space, which encourages opportunities for revisions of work.
When people are at home, they have a completely different demeanour than when they are at school. Students who complete their coursework at home may lack clarity regarding how to most effectively complete their assignments and prioritise their activities. Behaviors that a teacher sees as signs of laziness or apathy may actually be the result of the challenges that come with working from home. Establishing norms for offline and real-time interactions as well as productivity is one method for providing assistance to students. Students can be guided toward more appropriate professional behaviour with the help of a shared set of norms.
It is especially important at this trying time to check in on how the students are doing and see how they are coping. It is essential to hold offline and real-time conversations with each and every student on a weekly basis to ensure that they are doing well. The social and emotional well-being of students, in addition to their academic development, can be monitored with the help of these check-ins. Keep in mind that working from home can be a difficult adjustment for many students, which may make it more difficult for them than it is for you.
When students ask for additional time on assignments or for opportunities to redo or revise a task, you should comply with their requests and make it possible for them to do so. Assume that the majority of those pleading for assistance are doing so out of a genuine need even though there may be some who are exaggerating their situation. We are not aware of everything that can become a source of tension at home. Be a supporter rather than an additional obstacle.
You are not the only one who feels as though they are putting together an aeroplane while it is in the air. The establishment of a culture of online learning requires some time. Check to see if there are any components in your programme that are missing or that require further development. Begin on a small scale and expand as you go. And remember that some of the best online teachers shared the same challenges when they started out.