Be Prepared for Change
As of September, some teachers have been working full time in a classroom, some are working from home and still others are doing a mix of both. All of those scenarios come with positives and negatives. Even though some of us would prefer to teach or learn in person, it does not mean that this is possible right now. We need to adapt and become “responsive to change.” COVID-19 is here for the foreseeable future, and to protect one another we have to understand that some changes are necessary for the common good. My son’s school is doing a fantastic job of protecting staff and students within a hybrid model, but this week they are back to online learning due to a COVID case which has put too many staff in quarantine to offer in person learning. Staff and students have to adapt to an evolving situation and learn to be prepared for a variety of scenarios.
I was extremely disappointed when I found out all my classes would be online. I did not want to teach remotely. I like socializing with my colleagues and I like the down time with my students. I enjoy our greetings, our chit chat throughout our lessons, and that is something that is now missing. I am still struggling to create some atmosphere in my classes. I should mention that I teach English as an additional language and for anyone who has taught or learned a language, working remotely can present specific challenges in terms of sound quality and the possibility of missing sounds or words. Although this can happen in all online teaching, missing words or making mistakes needs be corrected promptly before errors are ingrained. With that being said, working online is certainly efficient and streamlined. There isn’t the downtime, so there is actually more time for learning, which is a positive.
Online learning is not new and there have certainly been a lot of studies dedicated to researching the efficacy of remote learning.
Neuhauser (2010): Online learning is as effective as face-to-face learning
Johnson, Aragon, & Shaik (2000): Online learning is as effective as face-to-face learning for graduate students
The majority of the studies have concluded that online learning is as effective as in person learning, but it can depend on what aspect you are looking at. For example, online learning is less expensive than in person learning, but there are upkeep costs to consider, which can add up in ways not always anticipated. (Strother (2002)
Just because online learning is effective and usually less expensive, doesn’t mean it is ideal for everyone. Some students definitely do better with in person learning, as the physical act of walking into the school indicates it is time for work, where some people have a harder time switching to learning mode in their homes. There are always other distractions such as gaming, eating, texting and napping to name a few.
I have been seeking out articles to help me better engage with my students. Here is one such article from Edutopia: 5 Research-Backed Tips to Improve Your Online Teaching Presence
Thinking back to the Darwin quote, our reality has changed. My goal, like many other people is to rise to this challenge. We need to find new ways to connect, to communicate and build relationships and communities, despite our physical separation.