‘During this crisis of lockdown and challenging times, not only students but teachers learn as well, and can teach better in a collaborative learning environment.’
By: Tasaduq Hidayat
Teaching is very challenging today despite the fact that we have all convenient tools or digital teaching aids. Because our understanding of the teaching methods in today’s rapidly changing world and the impact of COVID- 19 is completely puzzling. Teaching and its strategy are not only based on giving assignments or framing lectures with the flat scheme but, it is based on promoting mutual understanding between student and teacher and strengthening, acquiring, and understanding genuine curricular and extracurricular-goals. The teacher/instructor/educator needs to build connected, caring communities for online students. The responsiveness from the instructor to students establishes relationships and builds a sense of trust. Teaching is not only to make students prepare for annual examination but to teach them for global competence. Gail Goldwin, had very rightly remarked: “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre”.
Based on the above goals and parameters, I would highly endorse and recommend a 5 E Plans.
1. Engage (1st E): A teacher/instructor/educator should engage students by giving them assignments and conducting Quizzes. However, God Forbid, but if this lockdown were to continue, then these two things are not enough for engaging students. Students must be engaged in a serious, albeit interesting ways. Young minds understand it very quickly if given the right direction. Engaging them gives them the reason to explore.
2. Explore (2nd E): Exploring involves learner’s time to think; teachers should encourage students to think by providing by keeping their curiosity alive. For Science it can be to investigate, reflect, test, solve, and collect information. Students can collect information through instructors/educators as their primary source or through the internet as their secondary source. This keeps the students and educators engaged with each other.
3. Explain (3rd E): Here teachers can use the students’ explanations and refine the learner’s conceptual understanding by directing attention to important elements for examination both academic and Competitive.
4. Elaborate (4th E): Teachers need to be both sensitive to students and discipline with them in order to develop and extend the subject understanding and skills connected to real-world situations (Directly or indirectly related to the particular subject). This step can be a stepping stone towards more complicated strategies.
5. Evaluate (5th E): Here students can demonstrate what they have understood or learned. They have to be assessed. Teachers may conduct open-ended questions or MCQ test. He/she may also give ‘Assertion-Reason type questions’ to gauge the learner’s level of understanding.
The online educator faces Non-verbal communication issues. Both verbal and non-verbal communication is important to make online lectures efficient. An online class can still have all of the experiences of a face to face classroom environment. The way, that is the technology interface, is probably the only difference. The medium is different so it demands different and special skills. For example, it demands the right kind of presentation and content structure. A sense of content community, content exploration and discussions are very important. A good educator can take up that challenge with the utmost confidence.
Cognitive presence: Content plays an important role in both offline and online teaching. Because content includes what learners should learn by doing. Content must be up to date and very comprehensive. Because it is the content that educates the learner to make them smarter, show their positive presence in classroom or video lectures. The lesson plan or course strategy is GPS for the content. If an educator/teacher/mentor uses new-media tools then it is very important to be precise and appropriate, which eventually enhances the smooth flow of online classes. Otherwise the students will show “dissonance”. If students feel bombarded and loaded with content –they are bound to lose interest.
The instructor is like a source that acts as a decision-maker because it is the instructor who decides which message to send or rather selects one out of a set of possible messages. The instructor thus plays an important role in commenting and interacting with the students. Presentation and communication skills are the keys to effective interaction. Instructor presence is very important to solve the problems of entropic messages. The instructor can use the redundancy technique to overcome the problems associated with the students, the content and an entropic message.
Social presence: Social presence gives a roadmap for students to get to know each other and online classroom /group environment. Here an educator/ instructor may motivate the students to ask questions to each other about the relevant topic they had studied earlier or generate participatory discussions. This will help them to interact in effective ways and will make them more attentive during online lectures. According to the philosophy of practices and teaching methodologies, encouraging students for interaction is itself curiosity invoking trend that builds the strength and confidence in the minds of children to develop interaction. According to Aristotle’s model of communication, mobilizing the audience is very important to remove hindrances in communication. Thus mobilizing the students must be the prime objective for effective online class lectures.
Setting learning goals: Setting learning goals for online classes is very essential. But the question is how instructor/teacher can set the learning goals as online lectures are quite different than actual classroom teaching? To begin with study modules need to be outlined. Themes of the course give students a chance to grasp the design of the course, with learning goals and guidelines for what to read and write laid out in advance. It helps students circumnavigate through the course and clearly shows them the anticipated strategies. These predictable strategies offer a chance to get to know them individually. Interaction during online lecture helps them interact with each other as a community.
Constant dialogue: Appropriate software and how to use it is the key to something interesting to look at. Filming lectures can be problematic for instructors who are used to the face to face feedback method of classroom discussion. Here the instructor should use the advertising strategy of Filip.W.Sawyer (Editor of Starch Tested Copy) that content should be short and simple. The best ones are short and give students something interesting to look at, like video clips, images, graphs, charts, PPT slides, attractive characters, e-texts, etc. These tools not only help in keeping students engaged but also ignite their creativity. The teacher/educator/instructor should maintain regular face to face contact with the students. It helps in bridging the communication gap between students and educators. Constant dialogue is very necessary to keep students engaged and updated. The instructor or educator has to run the course strategy in a way that there is constant dialogue with students. A teacher can have outstanding course material, fascinating primary sources, challenging assignments, and its executional framework but the frequent interaction with students is very critical so that students feel the constant presence of educators in the course. The ultimate goal is for the students to feel that they are part of a collaborative atmosphere with the teacher as well as other students. This helps with the retention and performance of students in the course.
“Treadmill at home”: The instructor has to motivate and stimulate himself to get on the ‘treadmill’ and do the hard work and keep himself answerable for meeting all the purposes and fundamental prerequisites. The objectives to execute the lecture online must be relevant to the changing needs of society. The social science instructors can use this strategy as it is very relevant to the field. The course strategy should be applicable and should offer real-life examples. Students remember and recall real-life examples very easily and master the material. The real-life examples provide them the chance to interpret the subject themselves. It will help them to move beyond the ‘book-learning.’
Enthusiasm: In an online class, the content has to be visually appealing and conveyed with enthusiasm. Online courses are fun! An educator /teacher should take this experience as an opportunity to explore a different pedagogy that is sure to enhance creativity and communication skills. Video chat features should be used to increase the enthusiasm of the learner.
Notwithstanding all the chaos that engulfs us, it is imperative to acknowledge the efforts of certain unsung heroes. The lockdown in different parts of the world has paused all aspects of regular life, but thanks to umpteen volunteers, education is still afloat. Apart from online classes facilitated by schools and colleges, many individuals have come up with free or affordable courses. We’re witnessing an unconventional wave of creators and educators rising up from regular people who have opened the floodgates of online education. Not only technical skills like VBA or coding covered but also creative fields like art, music, and writing. Online video conferencing apps, websites, and social media apps have facilitated majorly in this global phenomenon. The objective is clear; to engage, help, and use the time to defy the incoming uncertainty. An empty mind is a devil’s workshop. I conclude with the quote of C.S Lewis, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.
The author did a Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipora. The author can be reached Through the mail: email@example.com