The concept of traditional education has changed radically in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now with the rise of various ed-tech learning solutions, being physically present in a classroom isn’t a requirement for learning anymore!
Pandemic or not, it’s safe to say that online teaching is here to stay as a full-time or some kind of hybrid learning model in the coming time. While technology is the main aspect, there are various other important factors that teachers need to pay heed to to ensure online teaching is different from face-to-face teaching. Why so? Because the online environment is drastically different from the traditional classroom environment, teachers need to develop a wide array of new teaching skills and strategies to compensate for the absence of a physical classroom and to ensure students are learning effectively in the new medium.
Here are 5 characteristics of the teaching-learning process in online teaching that should be different from face-to-face teaching.
1. More Emphasis on Community Building & Digital Competency
As a teacher, the utmost responsibility is to complete the syllabus on time. So, it’s common for many teachers to directly jump into teaching from day one. However, with online classes it’s important to devote the early weeks to building a sense of community so that students feel connected with their teachers and peers and therefore, more engaged in the process. Deeper engagement is a must for effective learning.
On the heels of this, it is equally important to ensure students’ comfort and competency in using the chosen online learning platform and tools. A detailed induction to the digital tools used in the classroom is necessary to acquaint students with the virtual classroom settings. It is natural to assume that most students are tech-savvy and that they need no induction on online classrooms. But, this is not always the case. There might be a few timid students who might not speak up and ask questions about the usage of online learning tools due to fear of embarrassment. Kick-starting the learning sessions with creative community-building experiences can help the children unwind among peers.
2. Focus on Streamlined Communication With Parents
Over-involvement of parents in online classes is a real problem. Teachers shouldn’t have to stress over helicopter parents. Schools should therefore facilitate a forum for both parents and teachers to creatively collaborate and build mutual trust.
Teachers must establish a consistent platform and predictable schedule for sharing information with parents. Rather than toggling around with messages and emails, a weekly update at the scheduled time and place will be much more effective and will reduce ad-hoc queries from parents. Also, setting clear expectations and boundaries for communication with both students and parents is important to avoid any kind of misunderstandings.
3. Greater Teacher Collaboration
Collaboration between teachers can ease the burden of online teaching while allowing one to explore more tools and techniques of teaching. Teachers need to work closely together to share their knowledge of digital tools and online teaching tips and techniques to reduce duplication of work and bring in greater efficiency and use of time. In fact, collaboration between teachers is much easier now in the virtual environment.
4. Simplify and Slow Down the Content; Build Critical Skills
The online space is not the ideal medium to cover large portions of content quickly. The physical gap between teachers and students magnifies certain negative aspects of online teaching. Teachers should be mindful of this and need to plan how to teach crucial content and important topics at a slow pace. Teachers also need to pay heed to aspects like the essential knowledge needed to go ahead to the next grade for a pupil as well as acquisition of crucial life- and knowledge skills like analyzing, constructing arguments, summarizing, etc. and build these critical skills through carefully-designed assignments.
5. Take a Backseat on Conventional Grading System
There have been vigorous arguments about how to manage grading in remote learning. Due to the nature of online learning, it would be better to accentuate formative feedback as students work through assignments and tasks, rather than simply grading them at the end. Most of the learning management systems have a feature to provide feedback. So, teachers can make the most of it by making sure to give periodical and meaningful feedback to students while creating avenues to receive feedback from the students and parents on the assignments.
Although we have described some ways in which online teaching has to be different from the traditional method, we aren’t referring to a complete overhaul. Certainly, there are various elements that need to stay the same for meaningful learning to take place. Components like clear communication processes and protocols, establishing classroom norms, adopting research-oriented instructional strategies and using a variety of learning tools have to be considered to provide authentic learning.