3 Common Mistakes Made During Online Teaching

In the last few months everyone has become aware of the challenge distance learning can cause. There is no doubt that the main reason is the factor that educators had very little time to shift their whole educational program online, and hardly any were prepared to implement what was fundamentally emergency distance teaching.

Online teaching has also shown problematic methods that were never even operative in-person practices. And making an effort to redesign them in an online environment didn't help at all. As numerous schools and universities re-start online instruction this coming months, keep an eye out for these 3 errors many people may commit.

1. Combining home work with learning

Aswearing questions and doing worksheets is not learning. After trying online learning for the last few months many parents repeatedly highlighted that distance learning too often meant filling out tons of worksheet.

Many students finished their tasks rapidly, consequently they had no tasks to do for days. For other students, the homework was very complicated, forcing them to ask help from their parents. This presents challenges for full time working adults who were not sure how to detect mistakes or stage learning in a proper way for their children.

We tend to compare task completion with learning. We think that adding more assignments can't ever be a teaching error, because we are afraid of what can occur if students are not continuously producing. In fact, the best learning experiences are consequences of dialogue between peers and inner self contemplations that resolves cognitive discordance.

2. Excessive passive screen time

The approach to technology integration can´t be limited to creating a list of applications to download. The most efficient way of using technology in education or any other field is by having a human centered and needs based process. The first step is to concentrate on “what am I trying to achieve?” prior to the question, “Which technology tools should I implement to achieve my objectives?”

Online learning is not only about having students occupied or stuffing their brain with educational content. The objective should always be to support productive debate, problem solving and critical thinking. Unfortunately sometimes, online teaching and learning takes an application centered approach, where students pass most of their learning time watching educational videos and taking multiple choice tests than debating about ideas, opinions and theories with their classmates and educators. Students end up gobbling content and repeating it, instead of taking advantage of the advances of technology to construct and maintain the sensation of community and relatedness that all of us miss these days.

When students are taking part in active screen time, they aren't just watching videos and taking multiple choice tests in a foolish way, instead, they are taking advantage of online conferencing tools like Google Meet or Zoom to participate in presentations and projects. Or maybe they are also using an interactive application like Google Maps to take an imaginary excursion. This is a perfect way to use students´ humanity and cooperation, giving them the social time they really need.

3. Deficient time for communication and debate

Learning is based on a social process, and because of that, we need to provide abundant opportunities for students to cooperate with their classmates and talk with their educators about what they are learning.

One way to accomplish that goal is by implementing The Workshop Model. In this model, classes start with short lessons, where the educator presents a problem based task.

After the lecture, students in groups or individually work with the educator in the attempt to practice the work or skill through the given task. In the meantime, educators provide personalized support and feedback to students. The assignment finishes with every student communicating about how effective it was, what could be changed to improve it and what we have learned in the process.

The potential of the workshop technique depends on the opportunities it offers students for debating, communicating and bonding with their classmates, without taking in account the ability level.

For example, in a chemistry class, students can spend time resolving a problem based task, sharing with classmates different approaches that each came up as a possible answer. In a Reading assignment, students can read either with their classmates or individually, implementing the strategy or skill from the prior short lesson, in the meantime the educator can go around and manage anecdotal formative evaluation on their advancement. For writing, students apply what they studied to interest based writings, meantime sharing their papers with their classmates and receiving relevant feedback.

All these activities can happen during online teaching, too. By taking advantage of Google Meet, Hangout or any other video application to split the classroom into groups, educators can offer students the same combination of personalized work and group time even though it is done virtually. This maintains a sensation of community and a sensation of purpose.

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