How to Make Online Teaching-Learning More Efficient

As we enter a new world where social isolation has become the norm, the disruption to our lives has been sudden and drastic. Education has seen a dramatic change too, moving from real world classrooms to a virtual setting. As schools rapidly scramble to adjust to the digital classroom, we explore how online learning can be made truly effective.

Setting Clear Expectations

Traditional face-to-face teaching largely involves instruction and note-taking. However, with the transition to digital devices, it must be acknowledged and accepted that the virtual classroom cannot have the same flow of a traditional one.

The time is upon us to figure out what the new normal is. Moving towards a “blended learning” model - a mix of some real-time interactive online sessions and some offline engagements to reinforce or dive deeper into the concepts – could be a successful approach.

Going into online teaching with a learner’s mind-set

The success of a new model is dependent largely on how well it is embraced. Moving forward while anticipating teething issues, perhaps such as technological or network issues, and instituting a robust feedback mechanism is crucial. The key is to accept the fact that things may not be as flawless as we would like them to be, despite our best efforts, and meeting challenges with resilience.

Ensuring Real Learning

Online teaching can be used as a way to re-craft mainstream teaching. A mix of synchronous and asynchronous modes of teaching can be instituted. Notably, the time is ripe for the teacher to play the role of a facilitator in a largely student-led model.

All elements of a school’s timetable should ideally be addressed but in cognizance of the fact that online classes would have a different format. For efficient transaction and immersion, it is a good idea for the student to be assigned pre-class work.

Keeping the focus on formative, rather than summative, assessment is also a hallmark of online teaching. The test or assignment should not offer judgements; it should rather inform teaching processes. Focusing on developing deep learning, the test should be a tool for the teacher to assess how far each student has progressed and where a student needs help.

Online teaching learning - how to make it more effective

Moreover, assigning students relevant and engaging tasks as a part of unit plans that focus on concept-based learning are key to student success. These plans encourage and support self-paced learning that is more personalised.

Finally, for a student to be engaged in class, appropriate guidelines should be in place. For example, simple “class rules” such as raising one’s hand and allowing the teacher’s acknowledgement before unmuting and other basic tenets can go a long way in ensuring decorum in the online class. Such rules can also be in place to facilitate peer-to-peer communication.

Setting the Appropriate Duration

The duration of the online school day should more or less mirror that of a typical school day. Keeping in mind the need to limit screen time, depending on the age of each cohort, only 30 - 40 minutes to a maximum of 3 hours of direct engagement with any device must ideally be prescribed. However, the time the student spends on his/her own on research, inquiry, reflection, practice and written assignments that online classes will enable and support (along with setting time aside for meals, breaks etc), is the key to efficient learning in an online model.

Being Mindful of Issues at Home

Individual households and families have their own issues. With the pandemic forcing parents to work from home (and families to work for home!), issues such as a limited number of devices, limiting screen time, space issues etc must all be taken into account.

A well-planned timetable shared well ahead of time with parents and setting routines at home will go a long way in addressing these challenges. A designated space for facilitating learning at home is also critical for a child to succeed in learning online.

Taking Care of Holistic Learning

A holistic approach to student development must also be addressed by the online model. It is thus important to timetable not just scholastic engagement, but equally importantly, co-scholastic and pastoral engagements as well. Especially in the current context, engaging students in art and movement is the need of the hour not just to enhance and enrich the student’s academic performance, but also, as in traditional school, for the sake of art itself.

The current situation may be embraced as an opportunity to re-assess how learning is facilitated in traditional school. At Shiv Nadar School, weaving technology in curriculum delivery has remained a pillar in the traditional school. While the current jump to online instruction may be temporary, the school will continue to use technology, as it always has, in the teaching and learning processes.

May 5, 2020 by Shiv Nadar School