Adapting these five skills/techniques, teachers can recoup some effective classroom magic to online classes

Dr S P Dutta, Principal, Krishnagar Public School, Nadia (WB)

We all agree, in the present scenario online teaching is inevitable and is now treated as an indispensible tool in the entire educational sector. As far as teaching is concerned and that too online, we the teachers need to adapt ourselves to various newer set of skills other than that needed by us in our traditional classrooms.

Here is a list of basic five skills / techniques to be followed to make our virtual teaching – learning process more effective:  

1.   Learner’s Involvement: Our virtual classrooms have made us to remain within the four walls of our houses and as such the learning environment is quite different from the actual classrooms. In this scenario it is important that we make our presence felt with the students from the very first minute the class begins. In order to make the teaching and learning effective it is quite essential that we make our learners fully involved in the process.  Teaching in this method can never be only lecture method. The teacher needs to involve the learner too by inviting responses from them. It is to be made sure that the teacher is available even after the virtual class ends may be through various social media platforms, con-calls or even direct phone calls. The students should be fully aware of the time table of the virtual classes and should be prepared with all the necessary stationeries before they start attending the classes. The student should feel confident that the teacher is also available even after the class gets over. This confidence and the bond that is created between the teacher and the student will actually go a long way and will be helpful and beneficial for the overall development of the child.

  • Supportive Learning Environment: It is essential that as an online teacher we create a supportive learning environment for the learners. We can achieve this by dual communication. One communication of teacher and students and the other communication among students. In virtual classrooms please allow communication among students at times which help them to get acquainted with the new ones and also restore the old relations.  Dr. Judith V. Boettcher in his book  A Faculty Guide for Moving Teaching and Learning to the Web has suggested the following strategies in providing a supportive learning environment:
  • At the start of your online course, get the ball rolling with a personal introduction post, and encourage participants to contribute their own short bio or introduction to the group.
  • Create an open forum or discussion board where learners can post to request help and assistance from each other, developing peer-to-peer support.
  • Set up small groups, similar to traditional study groups, for supportive mentoring of fellow learners.
  • Use of variety of tools: An array of technological revolutions has given us the opportunity to use several modes of interactions with learners even on the virtual platform. It is not only about imparting education to the students but the virtual platform is to be used for collaborative learning and engagement of the students. We can use both audio and visual tools to make the entire process exciting and entertaining rather than only lecturing which will make the entire process mundane as the retention capability of online learners tend to be very limited. The best online teachers use a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous activities, creating a blend of traditional online learning styles with newer tools. As per the learning styles we know that some people learn best when they see, hear, read/write, or act out information. A virtual classroom indeed gives the teachers a better hand to address the needs of the learners depending on their varied learning styles. Virtual classrooms give the learners the scope not only to hear information but also to go through the same (reading materials) during their leisure hours and as such it makes the entire teaching learning process more effective and the learners more enthusiastic to learn. Learning here becomes self paced. Use of variety of tools like live streaming, live discussions, and debates makes learning on real time too. A mix of learning tools can cater to the needs of variety of learners.
  • Feedback: One of the most important elements in the teaching learning process in any mode whether traditional or virtual is the feedback. Feedback will help to create the virtual learning experience a unique one. It will boost the motivation of the learner. The feedback should be continuous and this will help the learner to identify the areas they need to modify. Feedback will lead to peer – learning as well.
  • Easily Accessible: It is very interesting to find that these days the use of mobile has changed. It is no more only used by kids for entertainment but it is now for infotainment. Mobile learning holds key advantages for learners, allowing them to access up-to-date course materials and relevant content anywhere, anytime. With bite-sized pieces of information available to be digested quickly and easily, learners can work through course materials at their own pace, assisting both performance and productivity. At the same time, we need to make the learners aware that we the teachers are also aware of the technology and we can use the technology in the same way as they can.

These past couple of months have been really challenging for all of us. We had to let go a lot of convictions we held strongly earlier and adapt to the changing times. As teachers, the determination to ensure that our students’ lives are not disrupted or irreparably affected by the consequences of this global crisis motivates us each moment to innovate and implement newer initiatives andI strongly believe that if we follow the above techniques then we can easily make the transactions easy and the teaching-learning process becomes effective and efficient.