Distance learning in a time of Corona Virus
James Derounian, from the Association of National Teaching Fellows, offers practical tips on delivering quality distance learning for quarantined students (and staff!) ……
There are none so zealous as the reformed smoker But we’re all born-again remote teachers now, c/o Covid-19.
- Both f2f online depend on fundamentals like clarity of communication, regular checking on student understanding of material, and enabling a conversation and exchange to take place between student and lecturer.
- It’s crucial to build trust, dependability & relationship, and to be responsive to their concerns and not just leave them hanging in the ether.
- Provide distant students with a sense of regular ‘appearances’ online, preferably on a set time and day (for example in their usual/ expected lecture slot), in order to overcome the feeling, they may otherwise develop, that they are out of sight and out of mind.
- Use virtual break-out groups and electronic polls to garner student inputs.
- Recorded the sessions as a permanent record and resource for students to return to.
- Keep variety in assessment by adaptation eg a group essay via virtual groups of students via Moodle, working together in electronic groups of 3 or 4 to produce a team essay on the principles of community-based work. In the process of assembling this essay students practiced aspects of community development, such as inclusion, integration of work, partnership and division of tasks. A portion of the marks was awarded on the basis of how the individual student reflected on the assignment, by linking their experience to the principles they had been studying: were any members excluded because they came late to the party/ group chat? Did everyone pull their weight or were there passengers? Did individuals contribute complementary skills – one as editor, another as a researcher and so on?
- I’m also a big fan of short, sharp podcasts, especially when it comes to material that you might otherwise repeat over and over to individual students. For example, I have been sending out 4-minute voice only casts, weekly, covering typical sections of an undergraduate dissertation: Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Analysis and Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations; appendices.
I never thought a pandemic would vault distance learning in to the mainstream. But it’s gone……. viral. Keep as safe as you can colleagues and families, and students.