Teaching Online - Coronatime

It is March 12 2020, we are in the middle of a global pandemic of #Coronatime, also known as COVID-19. People have been asked to work from home and you specifically have been asked to teach your in-person lectures/workshops/learning-transfer-rituals online. Now you might be wondering why the light tone of this text? Well, I’m from Puerto Rico, and TwitterPR has been exploding with memes about the pandemic, so might as well share some of that catastrophic joy with everyone around the globe. Here I will share a couple of tips to teach online and make the process more enjoyable for you and your students.

Teaching online is different than teaching in-person. You should restructure your lessons to incorporate more activities and interactions every couple of minutes instead of leaving students without anything to do (“listening to you”) for 30 minutes. They will go and open Twitter, and won’t be giving their attention to the lesson as they can screencapture your talk. These activities that you should incorporate are not only for the purpose of ‘filling time’, they will measure their level of knowledge in the corresponding topic of the lesson. This type of activities is what is known as formative assessments, in which both the correct and incorrect responses allow you to assess the formative process of the students. These activities don’t have to be done directly with the instructor and they can be self-assessed between groups of students.

Following up on the last point, make students interact with each other. 1 hour and a half listening to the same person even when there are activities gets tedious and will reduce the receptivity of the students towards the content they are receiving. If we include components of the lesson, in addition to the assessments, that are run purely on a horizontal learning structure the lesson will be more enjoyable for the students and the instructor can focus on reinforcing the groups’ weaknesses instead of teaching all of the material alone.

One tool that has been proven to be useful by The Carpentries, RStudio and other organizations is shared documents in meetings. These documents have two main purposes. The first one, it allows people who don’t want to talk or interject verbally in the class to still be able to participate in the course and thus they don’t feel alienated or demotivated. The second purpose of the shared documents is that it allows people with functional diversity to still be able to follow certain meetings or lessons in which they might not be able to follow otherwise. Two last tips would be to not force people to use the camera or the microphone actively in each lesson. People sometimes feel uncomfortable given certain situations and it might be better for their learning experience to let them be. My last tip would be to not give a lesson that requires any type of software installation. It will not matter how good of a tech person or teacher you think you are, one Windows computer will betray you.

Hope this was of help for you. If you enjoyed it or have any comments or tips feel free to send me a message in the platform you found the post. Happy #Coronatime and be safe.