The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting social distancing has led hundreds of schools and universities to move their instruction online. For students and educators who are comfortable with in-person learning and instruction, this rush to online education may be overwhelming. Fortunately, we live in a digital era where both students and educators are familiar with digital tools.
If you’re leaning into the discomfort of this change to your normal routine, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that traditional classroom settings and virtual classroom settings are similar—they’re just different mediums.
Here are a few tips and tricks to support student success in online education if you’re an instructor learning this new way of teaching.
1. Find ways to be interactive
In a normal classroom setting students and educators are able to interact seamlessly, asking questions and promoting discussion. Nothing says you can’t do the same in an online learning environment through the use of digital tools like online forums, web chats, and social channels.
Educators also have the ability to schedule a digital meeting time and lead a lecture, discuss learning resources and assignments, and promote interactive discussions just as they would in an in-person classroom.
2. Create easy access to education resources
Many digital tools exist to help educators deliver instruction and resources and collect assignments. Whether it’s a learning management system or a free solution like Google Education, there are plenty of options for educators and students to access and share materials and assignments online.
3. Be flexible
In this time of disruption and new “normal,” remember to be flexible. Figuring out how to utilize unfamiliar digital tools may require a learning curve, and adjusting to other aspects of life converging with school may be difficult at times.
Set deadlines, but remain flexible, because flexibility is key in an online learning environment. If a deadline is missed or a student doesn’t show up to class online, take that as a sign to engage with the student. After all, this is just as much of a learning curve for them as it is for you.
4. Be sensitive and accommodating
When students and educators are outside of the traditional classroom, it can be easy to forget that people are in different personal environments. Even though we are in the digital age, it can’t be assumed that everyone has easy access to reliable internet.
As educators rush to create digital learning environments, keep notice of who is engaging in the online environments. If a student is missing, try reaching out to them, and think of ways you can personalize the learning experience by figuring out what works best for them. Check community resources and local providers for low-cost internet options.
5. Wait to test
With so much uncertainty and stress, this is not the best time to get an accurate assessment of your students’ knowledge or ability. The best option may be to postpone testing as long as possible. If it becomes necessary to administer exams, it should be of comfort to know that online proctoring is well-established, reliable and easy to implement. Established providers are ready and eager to help.
In this time of disruption, the medium for education has been forced to change, but the focus should remain the same, and that is the success of students. Do your best to create an inclusive and interactive environment for students to learn and ensure that students are engaging with the content.
Remember, this is only temporary, and it’s an opportunity to explore how education can change and adapt through different modes of delivery. You can do it!
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