Get learning done online: How to help yourself transition in these rough times

Remote education has been around ever since the invention of the telephone, and more so when computers became available. Although a significant block of formal education requires students and teachers to interact in a physical classroom, in some parts of the world, remote education is vital in acquiring new skills and earning a degree. Even with its ease of use, remote education is far less practiced by teaching professionals.

But the Corona Virus Disease 19 (COVID19) outbreak forced universities and schools to suspend classes while encouraging their teaching force to transition to remote education. For some, it was a breeze. But for many, it wasn’t. Many students benefit from teachers who have experience in teaching remotely, but most struggle with module heavy online sessions from teachers who are struggling to get online classes done. 

If you are one of the newly transitioned teachers, don’t worry. Everyone starts somewhere. Although it is best to have some training in remote education, it is still possible if you are willing to listen, observe, and learn from those who have more experience. 

Learn the basics first. Remote education has a couple of primary attributes that you need to familiarize with:

  1. Find the best learning management system to use. If your school already has a pre-ordered subscription, you can contact your school learning resource center. If your school does not have this privilege, there are platforms that offer free assistance such as Moodle, Schoology, and Google Classroom. If you are thinking about your student’s ability to go online or their internet connectivity, you can tap on free-data options like Facebook Messenger and weekly text-instructions. These platforms are unconventional but may be helpful for students whose only access is through smartphones and free data.
  2. Methods of teaching – remote teaching employ both synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Synchronous instruction requires the students to join a class at the same time. It allows the teachers and the students to interact freely. Asynchronous instruction requires the teacher and individual students to meet. The student is permitted to self-learn and contacts the teacher individually. Although a large chunk of remote education is asynchronous because most of its students being unable to attend class at a specific period, it is important to set a time for synchronous instruction.
  3. The syllabus must be built with the result in mind – It is usual for remote education to have an outcome-based program. Since most of the workload is self-learning with consultation, students must know what results are being asked from them. In making a syllabus, start by outlining your objectives for each lesson. Then, work backward by describing the activities and learning opportunities that would add up to the specific objectives. 
  4. Organizing the content – you can arrange the content in various ways, but the ideal way to do so is to organize it by units. Instead of organizing your content by week, it best to do by lesson. For each module, outline the objectives, reading assignments, homework, media, and review problems. Make sure that you also give a section that includes mentoring information where they can contact you. 
  5. Make each activity essential – each part of the lesson must be purposedly made. Because it is not easy for the student to ask for clarifications all the time, it is best to make sure that the activities are purposeful and useful for the nest part of the lesson. Each activity must add to the student’s overall understanding of the lesson.
  6.  Opportunity is the key – build an opportunity for the students to learn each time. They must be able to track their progress and evaluate themselves. Feedback is quickly done in learning management systems such as Moodle, Schoology, or Edmodo, but not all schools or students have access to these platforms. If you are using uncomfortable platforms such as Facebook or text messaging, you must provide a self-checking activity that can be repeatedly taken by the student. 

These basics may be a lot for new teachers to handle, but it is best to practice than never. Here are a few useful tips to start with:

  1. Learn from colleagues who have experience in remote education. Have a teaching partner if you can. 
  2. Don’t give a high amount of expectations for you and your students. 
  3. Look for excellent and workable resources from your learning commons or the web. Look at self-learning sites like Khan Academy or other online education exchanges that provide a perfect example of how to outline activities and add lessons. 

You have to be more creative and innovative in supporting your students in these unusual times. 

Not all students indeed have the opportunity for online learning during these periods, but it is still best for teachers to find better ways to reach out to their students and encourage them to learn. Some teachers contact their teachers through free-data messaging applications such as Facebook messenger; some teachers even do individual text-messaging. The most important thing here is that you can reach as many students in your class as possible and you find a way to help them learn.