With many school buildings temporarily closed in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the move to teaching online presents a new challenge for many educators. Not only is online teaching simply different from face-to-face instruction, but few educators have received any professional development on how to support student learning in a virtual environment.
EDC’s Kirsten Peterson and Zoe Baptista have both taught in virtual settings, and they have both written about their experiences, too. In this podcast, they offer teachers some tips for building community and promoting real learning in the online classroom.
On shifting to online instruction
Peterson: Teachers are very creative people. And so I think if the expectation is not to completely throw out whatever they were doing before and invent something new, but rather on how do we continue teaching the content we were teaching, making sure our students understand what they need to understand, with the new tools or ways of communication available to us right now, [then I think that’s reasonable].
On training students to navigate online resources
Baptista: You have to train your students, or your audience, how to use those tools. You can’t just assume that because somebody is a digital native that they know how to use [a course management system] or will post things there. You have to train them to do that, [which] means you are going to have to spend some time as part of your course teaching them how to use those tools and your expectations around that.
Peterson: We’ve done a lot of work where we have had teachers do needs assessments right away, even if they have been teaching these kids face-to-face, or college kids face-to-face, for a period of time. Doing a simple Google form where you might ask some questions about what tools do you use to communicate with your friends. What do you use to communicate with your parents?
On what teachers can do to improve their online teaching
Baptista: The thing I would do if you want to learn more about online teaching and training is to actually sign up for an online class that has some live elements and has some handouts, because then you get what I call the “meta” experience, where you are taking a class to learn something . . . and you get to see how the online teacher and trainer handles [the running of the class.] What do you like about that experience? What do you hate about that experience? And really self-reflect on that, because it will make you better at teaching and training online.