Covid-19 has forced many countries to unchain its academia from its brick- and-mortar existence and embrace an online curriculum. Today, worldwide, students are taking classes, completing homework, and working on projects from their homes.
Educators will have to shift their focus to incorporate teaching innovations like online tools, apps, animations and videos to capture the imagination of students while establishing engaging and meaningful communication.
Here are some suggestions for teachers to adapt themselves to online learning.
Be a better communicator: Online teaching is a different ball game; teachers need to up their game to educate a bunch of anxious, distracted youngsters. Students may be new to online education, but they are, in some cases, more tech-savvy than their teachers. To capture students’ attention, be more than a teacher, be an entertainer! Brush up on your communication skills, invest in good online communication programmes, and learn how to employ tone, diction and actions in a way that attract students.
Be tech-smart: As things stand, online classes are here to stay for the foreseeable future. You have to be one step ahead of your tech-obsessed students. Fumbling while teaching, battling with a bad net connection, and poor video quality, among others, will hamper your credentials as a teacher and render your classes useless. It is imperative to plan ahead. Don’t read out your lectures, record them instead; this will help you take timely pauses to elucidate a particular point or initiate impromptu quizzes, thus improving student engagement. Try to keep your videos short; long ones are tedious and will leave your students bored and disinterested. Choose a teaching platform that is easy to use, and learn simple but essential tasks like sharing your screen, promptly uploading presentations and using interactive infographics for smoother teaching experience.
Reduce and redesign: Online teaching doesn’t translate to teachers standing in front of a webcam and lecturing. An hour-long traditional lecture cannot be made into an hour-long virtual class; it will yield disastrous effects, as students are sure to tune off. Stick to the 2 R formula – reduce and redesign. Reduce your lecture by 50% and redesign the session by thinking outside the box. Incorporate story-telling time, fascinating docuseries like Cosmos (both old and new), or short videos of science, philosophy, and psychology every week to make your classes more holistic.
Gamify: Students can be easily distracted while taking an online class because the acclimated educational stimuli – classroom, classmates, and constant monitoring - are missing. They are in a new, unknown territory, and if the sessions are monotonous, they will amuse themselves by watching non-study related videos on the side. Gamification is an excellent way to keep students engaged while encouraging healthy competition among peers. Urge students to participate by taking a spontaneous quiz, and when they answer correctly award them with ranks, points or stars.
Augment knowledge: One of the biggest challenges of moving classes online is the lack of access to laboratories or sporting apparatus. However, for the time being, students can gain access to many online sites that will enable them to carry out virtual science experiments and learn sporting technicalities from their homes. Additionally, teachers can also turn to numerous information channels on YouTube to help augment their knowledge.
(The author is founder, School of Meaningful Experiences)