Online Learning, being the latest wave of education, is already having a fair show despite posing challenges for both instructors and students. While instructors need to put in intensive work and time to design the instruction, students need to equip themselves with some technical knowledge to engage with such content.
A week ago, we started 11th grade (FYJC) Online Classes for our students who had just written their 10th Board exams. Due to the lockdown owing to COVID-19 pandemic, there’s still a lot of time before our kids finally start college. This pandemic might have set pause on a lot of things around, but not on us.
We kicked off our online classes finally with 25 students and by the weekend the number increased to 40. It was actually more important for our students who come from less privileged background and can’t afford to have quality material or teachers for online.
Once we started planning for our online lessons, we realised that there are lot of ways by which online classes can be made quite similar to offline classes in terms of engagement and learning.
The most important thing is to ensure student engagement in some way or the other in every 3 minutes. Otherwise, the students start losing concentration and interest. This involvement can be ensured in the classroom by multiple ways. With something as simple as asking a student to read what’s on the slide to more rigorous tasks like making them solve/answer a question in the chat box.
If used the right way, online learning and the technical tools provided on these platforms can really help with engagement and pacing of the lesson. Tools like Raise hand & Thumbs up save a lot of time and ensure student participation.
Another important factor which shall be kept in mind that students should have a motivation to continuously pay attention to the teacher. In an offline class, a teacher can observe each and every student, but that is not possible in an online class. Therefore, a teacher should create good incentives like reward systems or shout outs or random call outs to make students pay attention every single second during the class.
At the same time, a teacher should also ensure that in every 15 minutes, there should be some fun elements in the class else the students will find it really difficult to keep themselves happy and motivated during the class. It can be done by playing various games like identification of pictures or by allowing the students to scribble on the screen.
At a more technical level, this can also be done by using videos, storytelling, gamified solutions, simulators to ensure practice and game-based learning.
And the last but not the least, a teacher needs to spend some informal time also with the students to develop a stronger bond and therefore, at least once a week, such a space should be created. It can be a group dance or an online game or at least a space for informal chatting with the students.
We personally believe that it is not easy to make an online class as effective as a physical class, but keeping the current situation in mind and the background of our students also in context, we believe that we all should definitely start exploring the possibility of online classes with our students, even if a small number of students participate and we all shall continue to try our best to leverage the technology around us to ensure that our children don’t go without learning and growing even for a single day.
-Purva and Vivek