The distance class : less is more (Part 3)


By August 31, 2023

Some tips

  • Avoid reinventing content
  • Do not confuse your learners with an overambitious use of third party tools and services
  • Use a regular pattern of communication to help establish a sense of community
  • Maintain student attention during content delivery
  • Extend the life of a lesson beyond its final assessment
  • Set clear and measurable learning outcomes
  • Use carefully positioned quizzes to pause your learners and prompt reflection
  • Use additional platforms to support your teaching where the central plaform’s functionality falls short
  • Encourage learners to engage in authentic tasks
  • Direct social dynamics by highlighting selected contributions
  • Develop your students as autonomous learners by asking them to continue the work at home
  • Use a provocative question to wake up the class and extend a live debate after class in a discussion forum

(adapted from MOOC Design Patterns Project, Warburton and Mor, 2015)

How do you get students involved online?

For those who practice videoconferencing, you have noticed the difficulty in speaking and the difficulty in enforcing a speaking order. Priority is given to whoever speaks, it is he or she that we see on the screen.

What happen if we “leave the microphone open” for each student to raise questions aloud at any time? Kind of like letting everyone in a class speak when they want to. How many times have teachers complained about these talkative classes!

The big question that we all ask ourselves then becomes: can we participate without necessarily (speaking)? This is the gamble of the educational moment that we are going through: not to fall into the ease of speaking to say nothing but to insist on “doing and sharing it”.

Shouldn’t we in the course of the class favor “soft” interaction modes – one by one in private exchange – or deferred modes – meet again after class for a telephone exchange of a few minutes.

The important thing during the online class is for the teacher to be able to “map” his class: who follows, who does not follow, who does, who does not.

Two solutions open:

– being able to “see” the students’ screens live and intervene immediately if necessary for those of them who need it, even if it means contacting them personally by telephone, for example;

– being able to include participation in activities to be carried out in class: instead of carrying out a powerpoint, the teacher focuses on the student’s ability to bring documents, find a video, express an idea. Then the teacher has to have the means to share the student’s production with the whole class.

Another innovative possibility, group work!

Cooperative or collaborative work – group work – is all about shared tasks, accomplishing something together, solving problems using collective intelligence.

These goals are as difficult or as easy to achieve from a distance as in the classroom. There are simple applications that allow you to bring students together, assign them tasks, track their work. In short, there are tools that make us work together.

It all seems strange, singular or provocative; but in an online course, you have to create a new pact of confidence with students who no longer rely on visual or sound control.

Does this work?

We are used to blaming technology for all the problems of the classroom at a distance. The famous bugs multiply, the screen suddenly blackens, the page loses its configuration on the screen, what works on a computer does not work on a tablet, the connection is interrupted …

So what? Who said technology replaces teachers?

All problems related to technology have solutions. The distance class is first and foremost a lesson of humility both for teachers and for those who have seen themselves too quickly as digital magicians.

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