Effective 'Learn From Home' During The Corona Crisis
The Covid-19 crisis has shown how vulnerable society and its various establishments can be during Force Majeure or ‘acts of god’. Every industry in the world and India alike has been affected by the crisis, bringing either disruption, or loss of revenue, or both.
Educational institutions are one such class of establishments that are hugely impacted by the crisis. Even as Board exams have been postponed in many parts of India, some colleges and schools have taken the initiative to impart online classes to their students. This helps them complete the syllabus and also keep students on their toes.
Online education may not be a new concept but to many schools, and teachers, imparting online classes is a new experience. There are many doubts and questions around the pedagogy or teaching methodology to be used.
To make it easy for such teachers, we have put together a few tips. Depending on the specific nature of your students, their age, their exposure and intelligence levels, and the quality of course material, you can tweak or customize these tips.
Depending on whether your students are predominantly in Tier-1 cities or a mix of Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities, their access to 24x7 Internet, and high-speed internet, may be limited. Also, depending on their parents’ outlook in this matter, not all students may have a smartphone. Some of them could be using a simple feature phone. Assess these points before you create content for the online class.
Keep It Simple
Learning Management Systems or LMS take online teaching and learning to the next level by integrating various tools and techniques. But there are many LMSes to choose from, plus each of them has a learning curve. So ditch the LMS and keep your content simple. Simple video recordings of your lecture, videos from different sources, slide decks, audio files and images are good enough. These can be delivered using Zoom and Whatsapp as the primary channels.
Create A Structure
Familiarity and predictability enhance the learning experience. Do not experiment with too many different teaching styles. Create a pattern for your online classes and share this with the students at the beginning. This way, they will know what to expect and can prepare themselves accordingly.
It’s important to ensure your students are enthusiastic and disciplined about the online class. While some tools like Zoom and Whatsapp clearly show the participants in the class, some do not. So take a quick attendance before starting the class and after completing the class. If some students are dropping out now and then, speak to them and understand the reason.
Send Lessons, Follow Up Later
Unlike classroom teaching, it’s not feasible to have group communication during online classes. So never teach the lesson online. Create videos, word or excel docs, slide decks and share with the students upfront. Let them go through the same. Later, have a scheduled video call where the students can ask questions or clarify doubts. This will help you cover more ground. Then have assignments to check how good their understanding is.
A video or a slide deck which only shows the learning material can become boring. It’s also difficult to engage students this way. At frequent intervals of time, show yourself so that students know you are there for them.
Mind The Duration
An important tip to engaging people in general and students in particular is the duration of the lesson or content. Slide decks and videos should not be more than 15 minutes in length. Do not crowd your slides with too much text. 5-6 lines of text, along with images, and multiple slides will hold the students’ attention. Complex chapters should be broken up into smaller lessons to make the comprehension easy.
Use Online Resources
There are innumerable videos on YouTube or specific websites that explain a concept in interesting ways. So also, there are various websites and whitepapers on the Net with relevant content. Share them with your students either separately or as part of your online class.
Test The Content
Some links may not open up, some videos may be too big to download quickly, some images may be low resolution and some slide-decks may not be optimized for a mobile phone. Please check each item before you share with your students. A teacher who appears unprepared or careless will quickly lose the respect of students.
Keep It Fun And Interactive
Gamification is the buzzword in learning and skilling, today. There are various online tools that can gamify your content and some of them may have a subscription cost. Feel free to use such tools, and incorporate quizzes, games and any activity that can make your class fun and interactive.
Assignments Should Be Clear
While sharing online resources with students, be specific. Refer to specific pages of a website or whitepaper, specific minutes in a video file, specific slides in a deck, etc. So also, while giving assignments, be specific in your instructions. You should be clear on what you are evaluating your students for, and the same must be clear to students.
Allow Students To Take Charge
It’s never too early or too late to develop leadership skills in your students. Allow them to take charge by creating study groups within the class. Allow these groups to debate or discuss a topic, and create group assignments. Ensure everybody is participating and nobody hides behind others. Recognize and appreciate every student but avoid calling out somebody as a star performer. This will create division in your class and defeat the purpose.
Finally, it’s important to take feedback from students about your class or teaching style. You may receive several interesting suggestions which will enrich your journey as a teacher. It will also ensure your students derive maximum benefit from the online classes.
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