Online Education: The New Way of Life?
Online Education has recently changed the face of education, giving it a new perspective and taken the world by storm during this global crisis, through utilising various virtual e-learning platforms to bridge all learning gaps and successfully fill in this academic vacuum created by the temporary closure of all educational institutions worldwide.
I recently read this inspiring quote, “If you have a choice, choose the best. If you do not have a choice, then do the best!” Well, online education seemed to be the best and only way out for both educators and learners and we have technology to thank for this new path. For most of us, be it Teachers or Students, this is a road less travelled and definitely experimental for both the former and the latter.
Being in the Teaching profession myself, I was initially very apprehensive about this whole new world of virtual education, with its full-blown reliance on technology. Was it going to work successfully in a field like teaching, where personal and face-to-face interaction is key? The only way I got my answers was after I myself started taking up these online classes on a day-to-day basis. It was not easy, but it was surprisingly possible. It was not the same, but it was a positive “different”, because from my experience, I realised, even though it had its drawbacks, the Students were still interactive and seemed to be more attentive than in their regular classroom setup. Could be because they are being monitored by their parents, but either way, it happened. Well, getting out of my comfort zone was indeed worrisome, given the short span of time to be able to be trained and get prepared for it, but I did it and today I am proud of it being another feather in my cap.
Bill Gates once said, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the Teacher is the most important.” So, here are some tips for all you Teachers out there, that could help you to take up your classes in a more effective manner –
- Set ground rules and establish a rapport: Remember Teachers, it is your class and it is important that the students are well aware of the purpose they are there for and how class discipline and online class ethics should be maintained throughout and failure to adhere to them, will be taken into consideration and necessary action will be taken against them. This is not to frighten the student, but to make him/her aware of how this online system works. Also, begin your very first class with an ice-breaker session, so that you and your students can both get used to each other and more importantly, get acquainted with using the e-learning platform of education.
- Be confident and be well prepared: These two things definitely come hand in hand, in my opinion, because when you go well prepared for your lecture, it boosts your confidence level. Be in writing down your own notes or setting up a presentation to read from your screen, do it.
- Do additional homework: As it is an “online” class, your students have access to online search engines, which they do not, in a regular classroom set up. This means, they could even “Google” or ask rather tricky questions, which could leave the teacher tongue-tied. So, analyse your class from your student’s perspective, while preparing for it and imagine what kind of questions could come your way, so you could be one up on your students and be pre-prepared to answer their queries.
- Prepare for more than the given time allotted: During an online class, either the deliverance of a topic can be quick or delayed, depending on how your students interact and respond on that particular day. So, it is always better to have some additional material ready to be taught, in case you get done with your topic before time.
- Think out of the box: Well, there are two main reasons I want to address this point. The first one being, how it is an important aspect to gain and retain the attention of the students during your class, through new and innovative methods of teaching and deliverance of your topic. Be in the form of a presentation, audio-visuals, quizzes or activities, which will aid your teaching process. The second being its correlation to my previous point. Meaning, in case your topic has ended before the time planned by you, you could have an activity related to your topic ready at hand, to engage the students with.
- Beware of fake ID’s: Since anything is possible through social media, there could be a faint possibility that your online classroom code/password could get leaked out, by an error or by a student as a prank, for fun. So, it is important for the Teachers to know and recognise their students faces/voices/method of interaction and find a way to avoid such circumstances, but also be prepared in case of such a circumstance and to inform a higher authority about taking care of the matter, if it isn’t in your control.
Well, since online education is a two-way process, which involves equal cooperation from the side of the Students as well, here are some tips for all you students reading this article, so that you can have a better and more efficient and effective online learning process –
- Be patient and cooperative: Just as online education is new to you; it is also new to your Teachers. So be slow to judge and be patient and tolerant towards the teacher in your class.
- Be prepared for your class: Keeping a notebook and pen ready to jot down notes, is of utmost importance. It helps you to be more attentive and stay focused during the class and reduces the chances of you feeling bored or distracted. Also, before you join your class the next day, go through what was done in the previous class, to be able to get a continuity of what’s being done.
- Be a good listener, even when your eyes are not on the screen: This point sure needs to be addressed because too much of screen time, can be tiresome for the student and can cause eye strain and mental fatigue. So, yes, if your teacher is explaining a point on the screen that you’ve already jotted down, look away from your screen for a few seconds or close your eyes and continue listening. That way you can avoid eye strain.
- Be interactive: This point is the key to making an online class effective. Like I said before, it is a two-way process. So, if there is something you haven’t understood or if there is something you want to ask, make sure to excuse yourself, un-mute your microphone and clarify it with your teacher or type it out in the chat box and get your query clarified.
- Un-muting your microphone and using the chat box : These two options should be used appropriately. Because keeping your microphone on unnecessarily, can cause it to attract the background noises and be a disturbance to the teacher and the others in your class. The chat box isn’t a place to have a conversation with your friend, but should be strictly used as a mode to ask subject relevant doubts or queries and get them cleared.
Last but not the least, for the successful conduction of online education, Parents play a very essential role. Even though it is hard, especially for working Parents, to juggle between the smooth running of their homes and their jobs, here are a few points to keep in mind –
- Monitor your child’s progress –Keep a keen eye on how your child is attending these online classes, especially in this day and age, where the internet is open to all sorts of easily available distractions and keep a check on whether your child is successfully completing his/her day’s work.
- Don’t judge or compare your child’s Teachers, be patient – During a regular School day, parents do not sit with their child in class. So similarly, even though you may be watching, do not interrupt your child during his/her class to bring up issues relating to the online class or how it is being conducted. It is essential to remember that just how new your child is to the online setup of learning, so is his/her Teacher. In case of any concerns, you could possibly discuss it with the School helpline or with the Teacher itself, after the class is done.
- Allot your child a fixed place to sit and listen to his/her online class –This not only implies a place where there could be reduced distraction, but moreover a place easily visible to either Parent, to monitor whether your child is paying attention or not and if not, you will at least be around to motivate your child to do so.
- Manage your child’s screen time – Being a Teacher myself and taking up online classes, it sure can be stressful for the mind and cause eye strain because of the long hours of looking at the screen. So, the same would apply to the child. Therefore, since this mode of learning is inevitable, don’t completely stop, but reduce their screen time in other ways (Like playing video games or watching T.V. etc.) and channelize their energy into other constructive things, be it fulfilling a hobby or even doing a simple household chore.
- Develop a routine for your child – Just because your child is at home, do not consider it as a vacation, but follow a set routine which includes set bed timings (To sleep and wake up), study hours and time to indulge in play, rest and relaxation.
It is important to remember that to make Online Education successful, Teachers, Students and Parents must work together hand in hand and make the best use of the resources at hand.
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