Learning in the new normal

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I HAVE been very pre-occupied with my personal concerns and challenges of teaching online. I would be honest to say that from time to time, I still attend webinars on topics about remote learning and learning management systems (LMS) and I also incorporate that learning in the several subjects I taught this semester. I have been very busy designing my online teaching materials plus the activities that will fit the subject matter. Indeed, a mixture of physical and mental stress!

But have I also thought as a teacher about the stress that this change brings to my students who are also new in this setup? I must say that although the need for physical attendance is removed in an online class, but the fact that students attend to several subjects every day in a week would mean the need for them to condense their timelines. Let me share with you the challenges and needs that students usually experienced in an online class.

1. Need for online lectures to be wrapped up and clarifications answered just like in the usual classroom setting.

It is standard for teachers to review the lessons and entertain questions to enhance students' learning before the class ends. But unfortunately, at this point in the adjustment period, teachers may forget to do so. This may frustrate the students and may feel their concerns are not acknowledged. It is then important that before the online class ends, the teacher has to summarize the important points of his lecture and of course, find time to ask students if they have questions to ask or concerns to raise that will supplement their learning. To help ensure that we remember doing this, an exit ticket strategy can be done to conclude our online class by asking our students to post his learning or take away questions in the chat tool.

2. Need for balance in the video conferences conducted and individual or group works assigned by the teachers.

I realized that not all students prefer to just complete the online assignments and activities with less synchronous learning but there are also students who would love it to be synchronous. I have seen from social media posts, students getting frustrated with teachers just giving them the materials and will see them online, the most is 30 minutes just giving instructions without teaching. Some students get tired of teachers providing lectures more than two hours with fewer activities assigned. While it may be funny but there are also those who would want less time both for lectures and activities or no lecture or activities at all. Well, with this I surmise that there should be a balance between asynchronous and synchronous learning.

3. Need to ensure confidentiality about students' online requirements submitted and their grades.

I see that the existing online education now has led to questions on how best student's privacy is protected. The important questions are like: are the online video reporting, reading assignments or learning progression be viewed by someone else, other than the student himself and the teacher? Can these concerns be answered by data privacy law? I am not an expert on laws, but I believe there are regulations concerning student education records, and I presumed that confidentiality entails protecting students from embarrassment due to information disclosure. Or either information disclosure may be acceptable to safeguard the public.

4. Need to discuss attendance concerns to students.

Although it is expected that a student should be joining his class online but as teachers, we cannot be too critical in imposing it. Like a student might enter the online classroom late, I feel that it is essential to know what causes the student the failure to join the class promptly. Low internet connection, maybe worst as to having no extra finances to load the prepaid internet or whatever reasons it may be, the teacher must listen. I intend to believe that internet connection problems may cause the students not to be present during the online class as there are other teachers whom I knew were late as much as 30 minutes because of internet connection issues too.

So, I guess not only teachers are stressed with the new "online teaching" but also the students in "online learning." With this, teachers must not add stress to their students by making them experience a more challenging online learning than necessary. As teachers, we need to create an engaging online learning experience where the roles of either the instructor or the learner will not be considered optional but essential -- both fulfilling the effective online teaching and learning.


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