4 Skills That Teachers Need To Master The Art Of Teaching Online

Here are the four skills which teachers need to master to deliver effective online learning sessions.

India is almost nearing two months of lockdown, and education institutions have had to close campuses and postpone examinations amidst concerns for student health and safety. The rapid almost overnight move to virtual classes for students across the nation tells a remarkable story of joint efforts between educators, parents, teachers, students and edtech so that learning can continue. It has been most demanding for educators who are teaching online for the first time.  

Let’s put this into context with an example. Recall attending a magic show in your childhood. The young audience is watchful, attentive that no trick should get past them, and the magician engages them with the skill to create a fun learning experience. Now imagine watching the same on a television show. The audience is virtual, individual and the magician now has to rely on a different set of skills to engage the young audience.  

Teachers face different challenges in online teaching and traditional classrooms. Here are the four skills which teachers need to master to deliver effective online learning sessions.   

1. Ensuring access to online learning: when and where is the class? 

Before commencing with online classes, a survey on the availability of learning devices for students and teachers (smartphones, laptop/desktop), internet availability will help decide the platforms, modes and timings for online teaching sessions.  

Communication is key: Use multiple means of communication – WhatsApp or Slack to message homework or pre-reading work, timetable schedule etc. Overcommunicate - it is better than a missed class. 

Set aside some time to introduce students to platform and tools to be used. Be flexible and move to more sophisticated platforms as both students and teachers gain confidence and tech skills.   

2. Creating engagement: how are we learning?    

Prep the students to learn: A successful online class starts with students already aware of the topic and subtopics to be covered in the session. This is quite different from a traditional classroom in which the teacher mostly leads the way to uncover the concept. In online learning, the flipped classroom pedagogy of sharing keywords/ phrases related to the topic, videos/ visuals well in advance with the children is highly recommended. In addition, begin every session with learning objectives and lesson plan with time schedule of activities.  

Set behaviour expectations: Online manners need to be followed such as being polite when messaging or chatting. Net safety instructions need to be reiterated often. Teachers need to develop, practice and model a clear code of conduct in online learning environments such as online discussion forums and instructions on how learners should communicate with each other when working in groups. 

3. Active learning experiences: what and why are we learning?  

Teaching online requires extensive use of student-centred instructional strategies that are connected to real-world applications. Connecting the content to students’ own home environment will engage them in learning and help them apply their learning. When teaching math, ask students to create word problems based on their environment. In language classes, they may describe their family members to sketch characters. Encourage students to share appropriately their thoughts and experiences; they miss being with their friends and such thoughtful gestures on your part will help recreate the togetherness of face-to-face classroom. 

The teacher needs to develop the skill to adapt content explanations and provide learners with simpler explanations or supplemental activities relevant to their understanding. He/she may allow learners to choose from different options for completing an assignment.  Create assignments in active google sheets that will allow students to build, design, create and investigate collaboratively. 

4. Achievement and feedback: how well are we learning? 

It is important for a teacher to plan time to ask questions, comments and feedback from their class. Give wait time to allow students to voice their doubts and thoughts, write their questions in chat, or be unmuted to ask their questions live.  

The purpose of giving feedback to learners during or after the class is to clarify doubts and measure progress. There are a number of easy to use tools that can be used to conduct ongoing assessment of learning. For example: creating assessments using google forms or office forms for submitting long answers or Socrative for answering multiple-choice questions are easy to handle for both the students and teachers. These tools help provide actionable, specific and timely feedback.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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