Whether you’re a classroom teacher now setting work asynchronously via a learning management system like Moodle LMS, or a lecturer who already has some experience teaching online, things are different now. For most of us, teaching or working completely online is a completely unknown world. Or was, because we’ve now been suddenly thrown into it, many with not even a day to plan in advance. Today we’re sharing some tips and considerations for those teaching completely online for the first time.
1. Put on your SCARF
Good educators have psychologically-safe classrooms and lecture theatres. They ensure that all of the elements of the SCARF acronym are covered, leading to a positive teaching and learning environment.
Doing this at a distance via email, forums, and video conference requires a slightly different approach to being face-to-face in the classroom. Educators need to think carefully about status, about how learners can feel a sense of belonging. Our experience shows that quieter, more introverted learners tend to be more forthright online and contribute to discussions. This may change the power dynamic within the class, so be prepared for that.
Learners like certainty, which can be broken down into predictability and clarity. When they don’t know what to do or how to do it, make things really simple and straightforward. Go with the simple options and/or things they have done before. Don’t introduce complex workflows and approaches when learners are new to being taught online.
Meanwhile, allowing learners more autonomy means that they feel more part of the process, and you benefit from greater engagement. While this isn’t necessarily a time to introduce new workflows, it is a time to experiment with giving learners a choice on how to complete certain tasks and activities.
Finally, in terms of relationships and fairness, it’s important to be very explicit about what you expect from learners. It’s important to show our human side as educators, especially during a crisis, and this can help build trust. Remember that educators must be fair and be seen to be fair, with everything from the amount of time you give each learner, through to how you grade (if you decide to grade at all at the moment).
2. Ask for help
No matter how long an educator has taught remotely, doing so from home, without the face-to-face support of colleagues, can be tough. Thankfully, there are many places where they can turn for support. Everything from email lists to social media groups, to forums like ours at our community site moodle.org with educators and supporting moodlers from all around the world can be a real boon.
Educators should not be afraid to reach out, to ask questions, and to put themselves in the position of the learner. It’s incredibly empowering to know that there are, right now, many educators who are in the same position, getting to grips with technology and online pedagogy for the first time.
This is a great opportunity for educators to not only ask for help but to share what they have already learned to help others.
3. Learn by doing
As Aristotle, the great philosopher famously said, the way we become brave is by performing brave acts. The same goes for learning; we learn by doing. While experimenting for the sake of it can be frustrating to learners, mixing things up a little, with their buy-in and consent, can keep things interesting.
Educators can use Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model to think through how to use tools in new ways. For example, this diagram by Twitter user and educator @jnxyz shows how the video conferencing tool Zoom could be used to transform and redefine learning tasks.
Even though this new normal is challenging, it’s a great opportunity to try new tools and approaches that we’ve never considered before, some of which we’ll be able to take back to our in-person or blended lessons.
Have a look at some the things that our team at Moodle HQ learnt whilst working remotely earlier this year: 5 lessons we learnt from working remotely.