Which steps help the transition to online teaching?
This is the first of three chapters about Teaching Online. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Introduce the concept of online, blended and hybrid learning in the post COVID world
– Discuss five useful steps that prepare tutors for the transition to teaching online
– Complete Chapter 1 Worksheet to check knowledge and improve English proficiency
The prospect of teaching online (brought to the forefront of education by the COVID-19 pandemic) can be daunting for teachers, particularly for those who’ve had years of classroom-based pedagogical input and practice and who strive to facilitate a varied and student-centred learning environment. While delivering classes online through platforms such as Teams, Zoom or Tencent may seem very different to the traditional classroom experience, the good news is that the fundamentals of teaching and learning and lesson planning remain much the same.
This three-chapter reader has been designed to help tutors who are relatively new to online, blended and hybrid teaching reflect on what they wish to achieve through their online instruction and how they might achieve this in the most effective way. We begin in Chapter 1 by exploring five common-sense steps that should assist with the transition to online learning. In Chapter 2, we then discuss how to make class materials for live and recorded online lessons before examining in Chapter 3 the methods for engendering quantitative and qualitative tutor and peer interactions.
Step 1: Remember Your Pedagogical Principles
Before your first online class, remind yourself of your core pedagogical principles and philosophies as a teacher. It’s important to recognise that these key principles do not change simply because you’re teaching online. Generally, all teachers want students to be engaged with the course content and equipped with the knowledge and skills to progress through their undergraduate and master’s degree. To achieve this as an EAP tutor, you may wish to follow some of the principles we’ve included below:
- focus on high-frequency lexis in depth and provide strategies for low-frequency items
- provide learners with intermittent but repeated opportunities to revisit course content
- reduce the learning burden by making effective use of previous knowledge
- encourage controlled and freer practice of lexical and grammatical structures
- include authentic materials that inspire learning and motivate students to communicate
- continually analyse needs and revise course materials where needed
Step 2: Study the Course Specification
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the teaching and learning principles that make up your pedagogical philosophy, the next step is to review the learning outcomes, lesson aims, class materials and formative/summative assessments of the course you’ll be teaching. This will help remind you of the skills and knowledge that must be practised and covered throughout the course and provide you with ideas of how to meet the course objectives. At this stage, it might be a good idea to focus your attention on any aspect of the course that may be more difficult to achieve online, particularly if a face-to-face course is being transitioned at short notice. Difficult aspects to conduct successfully over the internet may include group discussions, jigsaw activities and mingle exercises, lab work and other hands-on learning, and timed writings and examinations.
Step 3: Consider the Class Size
While definite numbers may not come in until the last minute, having a general idea of a cohort’s size and proficiency should better prepare tutors to anticipate problems and manage timetables and staffing. While online lessons don’t have the same capacity restrictions as a physical classroom, it’s still not recommended to allow seminar classes to grow beyond normal face-to-face enrolment. The more students you have to teach online in one class, the more difficult it will be to organise peer discussions and build a rapport with your students. You also increase the chance that technical difficulties will interfere with successful and fluid teaching and learning.
Step 4: Share Practical Ideas
While sharing pedagogical ideas and practical ways of better using technology is commonplace in some institutions, this is not always the case. Whether you teach within very different disciplines to your colleagues or not, or perhaps have different approaches to course design and delivery, it is still highly recommended that you get together with your peers or an online community of tutors (such as our community forums) to share successes, failures and general ideas. The transition to online learning is an opportunity for us to increase our agility and innovation as educators, and sharing ideas will only make your and your colleague’s transitions smoother and more effective.
Step 5: Understand the Technology
It is inevitable that you’re going to have to familiarise yourself with some new technology, but don’t worry, this technology has been designed to be intuitive and as easy to use as possible. Once you’ve tested it out a few times, you’ll feel a lot more confident using it with a class. As teachers often say, the best way of learning is by doing, so before making any hard and fast decisions about how to teach online, it might be a good idea to see what you can already do and which challenges you still need to learn how to overcome. There’s a wide variety of software, apps and VLEs that support online teaching and learning, and being familiar with the functionality and limitations of the software you’ll be using prior to the first day of class will be critical for success.
To think about the practicalities of moving lectures and seminars online in more depth, continue reading with Chapters 2 and 3. This short reader on teaching online has been designed to increase tutor skill and confidence so that a remote learning experience can be delivered professionally and effectively.
Chapter 1 explores the topic: Which steps help the transition to online teaching? Our Chapter 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
Chapter 2 explores the topic: How are live and recorded online classes different? Our Chapter 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.
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