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Online learning popularity grows under COVID-19

MMAOTHO SEGOTSO
In the recent past, due to the advent of internet, online learning has been popular and people have studied online and gone on to graduate.

Most Africans who cannot afford to go and study in universities abroad have enrolled,studied and graduated online.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has compelled nations to consider using online learning for younger children.

Virtual or E-pedagogy might broadly be defined as ‘learning design that incorporates educational quality, values and effectiveness of teaching, learning and assessment activities supported by technology’. It is also a comprehensive science, which integrates all issues related to online education, starting with the theoretical foundations, and embracing higher education institutions, pedagogic systems, personal and professional development, principles of teaching and learning, instructional approaches and methods.

Online classes, mean conducting teaching and learning sessions with the help of ICT; the internet is an important player. You can inform students through email or WhatsApp about the time and topic of the online class. You can also stream your video tutorials live on YouTube.

What are the basic dos and don’ts of conducting online classes?

Do’s:

Collect email addresses and contact numbers of all the students and create a group for students through which you want to conduct online classes. Prepare yourself before the actual online class. It is best to rehearse offline before your class.

Check all the necessary equipment and services, like your internet, laptop, camera, etc. before your session. Be ready with the assignments that you want to share after your online class, like a list of questions related to the topic.

You may also ask one or two students to volunteers to help you pass important information about the online session to other students in the group if required. It will reduce your workload because you will not have to inform each and every student. This may be beneficial in conveying last-minute changes if any.

Give your students all the instructions required so that your online class runs smoothly and is fruitful. During online sessions, give proper breaks so that the students will have the time to think about the topic and frame their questions as doubts.

It is better to keep your class short or as a series of short sessions; this depends on various parameters, like the topic, the participation of students, and the teaching plan.

You may ask a few open-ended questions related to the topic during the online session to make students more responsive. Encourage students not only to ask their queries or doubts related to the topic, but also to answer the questions asked by their peers. You may set up an online discussion forum for this. Post the assignments just after your session and announce the details in your session. Take feedback from the students. It will help you learn their point of view about the session.

Don’ts:

Don’t be too formal, especially if you are familiar with the students. Don’t postpone or cancel a class without any strong reason.

What extra can be included

in tutorials due to COVID-19:

During your online class, you may request students to wash their hands properly at regular intervals. You may share a template or poster regarding precautionary steps for COVID-19 published by WHO or the government in your tutorial.

Share some positive quotes during your tutorial

Other tips by Amanda Johnson:

Virtual teaching takes a lot of time and preparation. Virtual teaching takes as much if not more preparation than teaching in a traditional classroom. Be prepared to take what you’ve learned in the classroom and re-construct it for a virtual setting. This means re-thinking how you present

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materials, coursework and daily assignments. In addition to creating the curriculum, you will need to map it out in a way that can be presented online.

Familiarise yourself with the virtual classroom. Before you can even start developing the material, you will need to set aside time to learn the web-based classroom programming. You won’t be able to simply walk into the classroom, smile at your students and start a conversation.

Think of ways to welcome students. Make sure you know what to do before you start teaching.

Don’t duplicate regular classroom in online studying. What worked in a regular classroom may not work in the virtual classroom. Make good use of the message board and group chat areas instead.

Communication is critical since there is no face-to-face time in the virtual classroom. In fact, some students may assume the classroom is always open no matter the hour of day or night. Be prepared to frequently check e-mail, message boards, and chat or text messages. Plan time to respond to students and provide feedback in a thorough, complete and timely manner.

Easy navigation is a must. Make sure your coursework is presented in a clear and concise manner. Students see online courses as a way to speed up their education and they expect to log in, check out the material for the day, submit assignments and move on.

Don’t be surprised if assignments take longer than you expected. In the classroom, you may have students work on their own for 30 minutes to complete an assignment, but don’t expect this online.

Students will be popping in and out of the classroom at various times of the day or week so plan assignment due dates accordingly.

It’s up to you to build a strong sense of community in the virtual classroom. Engage students in conversation and encourage them to communicate with one another through message boards. Students need to feel like their opinion matters and are welcomed in order to come back each time and take part.

There will be times when a student will message you for help in a particular area. Make the time to respond to that question even if you’ve already responded in a different post or you’ve made it clear within the course material. It’s easy to ignore questions expecting students to figure it out, but don’t. Simply guide or direct the student to the appropriate area of the page that will provide the answer.

If you’re live teaching, make sure you know the system ahead of time. If you’re frazzled because you don’t know how to operate the programme, students will sense that.

Prepare ahead of time and greet students with a welcome slide login. Students don’t want to log in to a blank screen nor an absent teacher, so log in early too.

Be open to feedback as this will help you grow as a virtual teacher. Don’t wait to ask for feedback at the end of the course. Ask at the beginning and in the middle too. This will help you reach the students in a more impacting way, especially if there is something you need to change to make the material more online friendly.

“Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.”

Jacobs

*Mmaotho Segotso is an educator and former teacher.



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