I, wondered, that if the world now is functionally making its transition on to the Web, can teaching & learning be very far behind? If it has started, how different is it from a face to face classroom experience not only for the student who participates or attends but also for the teacher who teaches? Can I a traditional teacher be good at it too be able to manage say a class of 30 students equally just as effectively? I decided to take the plunge and before the teaching, my learning began in right earnest, and how?
This particular kind of teaching needs me to have a class in the first place. Who would get students for me? How do I define the course? Then while I am taking the class, am I likely to have all of my class together to talk to? How do I keep them who are with me constantly engaged? These were some of my queries and did I get any empathy from the world around me? Absolutely not. This world operated on some simple myths, if it is online, where do you have to go? Everything comes to you right at home? It is easy. As a fresher in this business these learning’s came to me the hard way.
- Is it a lot of work? Yes, only if you do not know how. So the primary step needed is to be more organized at it. Unlike a face to face classroom, not all participants could be available together. If they do by some coincidence my work time is crunched up. Answering orally a query is so much simpler than having to write it down when it is posed. If there is a test to be conducted and graded, how soon can be out with the results. This is on account that the online and offline world operate at different speeds and without brevity and speed one doesn’t create interest and engagement that converts into extended sticky time.
- Now beyond the immediately achieved sticky time how does a teacher create comfort and then provide a quality that are both pleasing to the teacher and desirable to the recipient? This happens through measured, concise and regular feedback. To achieve this one needs an online identity that includes a photograph or a face. Introducing one another and getting introduced breaks ice faster than anything one imagined. Now, one has begun.
- Technology has abundance but is all of it essential? This is the question that first needs answering. The online media has many tools but a clear balance has to be designed to make one receptive to these tools at the same time gauging a comfort level with them. Not all recipients in the same course may have the same level of technological comfort, hence while in an effort to make a class attractive and flamboyant one should not miss out on the defined effective purpose of the course itself. Audio, Videos and Animation look nice and while they are nice to have, it does may make it more suitable to check whether they are necessary to have.
- Assignments online can consume a lot more time. One has to read all and respond to all by writing a genuine and valuable feedback. This can mean searching for weighing the right word, weaving it into a sentence and putting it down. Unlike an oral feedback this is also permanent hence carefulness creeps in and one spends considerably more time on it. It also calls for one to be updated from the word go. Updating means reading a lot more and digesting the matter clearly for use in the on-going assignment.
- Motivation of the participant is the key. Are they just as charged up to finish the work in a given time and are they likely to wait for the last minute to post up if at all because they are just expected to or simply drop out. Some students are self-chargers while others and a majority of them may not be. This issue plagues both classroom teachers as well as online ones. Creating active engagements, encouraging collaborations and then grading each one separately with feedback for the uniqueness is a solution that works majorly. The carrot or the stick or a judicious mix of both is a personal choice and best left to the teacher and her understanding of the profile of the batch for the best output.
- Timeliness: An output when it does not fall in line with the calendar or the clock has really no meaning. Malleability and flexibility to finish an assignment or work is good, but this flexibility is the not blinkered expansiveness of thought and imagination, the clock or the date is sacrosanct. Deadline gives work meaning and when this is impressed upon the participant, it not only makes for better learning and focus but also eases up pressure on the teacher and lines up the organization of the course smoother.
- Is Online for all? The suitability and the fit are not universal. As a teacher one may not get to know this right at the beginning. However the student’s engagement, learning ability, timeliness in assignments the interest shown in knowledge seeking can be indicative whether this medium is good for him and for the teacher to be having such a student. This is decision time and a call has to be taken. The communication of this feedback is super essential with its content having an inbuilt sensitivity paramount. The skill of the teacher is exhibited here.
- The course should have fluidity and if not it makes immense sense to build some into it or factor some leeway to mould it. The pointers for this shall come out of periodic information share with the participants while it is on.
- Share, share and keep sharing your experience. Online teaching is a new animal and the world must be familiar with the fact that you do it and how do you do it. The benefits are unprecedented; sharing allows information exchange on methods and techniques. It may also popularize your courses, create and build your own credibility as an expert in this particular delivery and hence subsequently attract more students being recommended or you being recommended for collaborations.
- Online & Offline: Each one can support the other, enhance the other. While in a face to face teaching one may not be privy to any discussion, in the online world you are and this can enhance the ability of yours to hear it all and address it. It shall make you a better offline teacher and vice versa.