Teaching in the new normal

SINCE April, I have been very preoccupied with learning instructional design models and teaching online strategies in preparation for my class as a teacher in a university. My schedule was so busy attending various webinars, sometimes even two sessions in a day. My brain is so full, that at the beginning of the online class last week, I did not know that my energy was depleting because of the massive preparations I have made. I really do not know how I am going to endure all these demands.

But, my first-day of online class may not have been perfect but at least I was able to sustain it and goals were met. I have also realized that sometimes no matter how you practice for an online teaching application, it will not work as it is expected on the first days of online classes and maybe on the later part too. So, it is important that online teachers remain composed and must know how to shift to teaching strategies when there is a need.

So, here are my experiences as a neophyte teaching online.

I have discovered that it is important to ask questions from time to time to students randomly to enliven the entire class as students would be motivated to think on the spot. In addition, teachers need to consider using interactive graphics or visuals that can stimulate the learning process facilitating higher order thinking and sustain the interest of students.

Another which is challenging is when students have an unstable internet connection. It is then important that teachers must know the stability of the student's internet connections. An extra effort is important to reach out to these students, as they may not join synchronous online classes with perfect attendance. On the other hand, teachers can also be affected by lagging Wi-Fi. Thereby, students will miss out on essential discussions when the internet freezes and vice versa.

Further, I see that synchronous learning generates that feeling of being a part of a learning community and that feeling of isolation is reduced. At the same time, asynchronous learning is essential as the former, as it welcomes students to use various learning styles, allowing them to pick their own adventure in learning while the teacher facilitates. But beyond all of these, I feel that it is very important to have an individual online conference for students. This might take much of our time but at least as a teacher we would discover whether the students are introverted or extroverted. And as such would guide us who among the students will be encouraged to explore their thoughts on the spot during online class and those in online chat groups.

I also realized that it is true that the choice of an online teaching platform is also important. Teachers are expected to provide knowledge in an environment where students can be comfortable in learning. But for those who are used in traditional teaching, the platform itself might cause confusion to either the teacher or the students. The teacher's knowledge of the platform to use is important because they are also expected to introduce the platform to students who are unfamiliar with it and not the students to the teachers. Hence, today is the time for us teachers to learn other platforms too and balance it to our student's online learning knowledge, skills, resources, and preferences as they also adjust to online learning. Let us always be mindful that the strategy we might have chosen might be easy for some students but may be difficult for others.

Lastly, I learned that the activities should not be imposed just to lengthen the online class hours even if it does not help achieve the students' learning outcomes. I just hope that we are not piling up so many requirements online to our students, as some may be giving impossible deadlines when we might even have no abilities to do the same requirements at our level. Very importantly, let us all remember to give feedback to our student's assignments or projects all the time, as it will encourage them to do more.


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