Tips on teaching online in the age of Covid-19
An altogether new mode of education delivery in real-time and that too in a very interactive mode has evolved. Although it is still at a nascent stage but as all things do, this too shall evolve and improve with time.
The Covid- 19 pandemic unleashed by the Sars-Cov-2 virus has caused major disruptions all over the world. Practically every sphere of life has been impacted by entire countries being completely locked down. Education was one of the first sectors to feel the impact as all institutes right from schools to universities were shut down even before the lockdown began. This really upset the academic calendar as it happened at a crucial time when teachers were working hard to finish courses and address any doubts and queries from the students.
However, thanks to technology it didn’t take long for institutes to maintain continuity in the education of their students and stick to their academic calendar. An altogether new mode of education delivery in real-time and that too in a very interactive mode has evolved. Although it is still at a nascent stage but as all things do, this too shall evolve and improve with time. Online classes have become the norm whether it is for junior classes in school or higher education institutes.
Online /virtual classes started almost immediately in most of the universities and colleges.The students had already experienced some sessions by industry experts in an online format, but teachers need to have more interactive sessions in real time and be able to gauge the body language of a student to determine their attentiveness and understanding. Although one can evolve their own method of having a successful online class, the following tips can be helpful:
-Set the meeting and ensure that the meeting connection request has been received by all, so use an alternative method like an email or a WhatsApp on the group to inform them about the Class;
-It is important for the teacher as well as the students to be dressed up as they would for a normal class as it sets the right tone;
-To be energetic and active throughout the session ensure that you find a bright corner, sit upright on a chair and have the scope to move around – it is convenient to use a Bluetooth headset with mic;
-Many Professors feels that it is always better to start the class on a positive note. Introducing 2- 3 minutes of soothing instrumental music can make the students relax and get ready for a session of learning and another advantage of music for online classes is that while all the students are logging into the class, a prolonged silence could make them think that there was a problem with their audio and they may log out to log in again;
-There may be a time lag during the transition of slides from one to another, while it may be happen fast on your laptop it could take longer to show at the students’ end, so, every time you change the slide give sufficient time for it to become visible at the other end;
-Always remain in presenter mode and keep audiences’ microphones in silence mode to avoid unnecessary static and noises making your voice inaudible to the audience, allow the mic usage when inviting answers to questions
-To ensure that the students are present at the other end and all the students remain attentive throughout, randomly pick students to question them and ask them to summarize what has been explained;
-Use of humor is particularly important in an online class since being an unusual for the students’ situation, it’s important they remain in a positive mindset, smile and feel happy despite being in an atypical situation;
-Give a break every 40-45 minutes but keep engaged with general chit-chat about their well-being etc. so that the students can feel relaxed and can also share some of their stories with you, it develops a bon-homie which normally is there in a physical class but is missing in an online class;
-Just like in a physical classroom, open the class for discussions on a topic, while playing the role of a moderator in order to avoid excessive noise and confusion.
While online classes seem to be here to stay for good, the technologies will evolve further in order to make them more ‘real’ and the trainers and students will also evolve to make them more interactive to get as close to a real classroom feel as it they can get.
(The article is written by Ashwani Awasthi, Managing Director, RICS SBE. Views expressed are personal)