The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered classrooms from P-12 schools to the nation’s top universities and forced educators to quickly adapt instruction to the virtual realm. Online learning experts - William Beasley, Ugur Kale and Jiangmei Yuan - offer the following advice for educators who may now be online instructors for the first time. The three faculty members are part of the Instructional Design and Technology Program at the West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services.
Quotes and Comments:
- Communicate directly with your students as soon as possible, and make sure they respond. This will help you to confirm that you can talk with one another and establish the habit of doing so online.
- Provide very specific instructions for any new tools or techniques you expect students to use before you attach a for-credit assignment to them. Assign a low-stakes activity to allow students to practice the new technique.
- If possible, make one of your first online activities a sharing or discussion exercise that allows your students to talk about how the transition to online learning is affecting them and how they feel about it. This exercise can serve multiple purposes, including getting students to express the reality of their lives and struggles, helping you ascertain what your students are dealing with, and making sure the online learning community mirrors the trust and support you’ve been building all year in person.
- Check with each of your students to see whether they’ll be using a phone or a computer for their online coursework, as the capabilities for each device can be very different. Find out how long they’ll be able to use their device each day, as some students lack access or need to share devices with other family members.
- Keep things simple by creating one central course page for each day that contains the links to all of the assigned readings and activities.
- Offer office hours for students to ask questions using Google Hangout or other video conferencing tools. It is ideal if you can make yourself available online for the period of time you normally teach at school.
“Most importantly, don’t make perfect the enemy of good. If this is your first time teaching online, you will make mistakes. Do your best and know that you and your students will get through these extraordinary circumstances.” – William Beasley, Instructional Design and Technology Program
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