A huge thank you to Our Lady of Mercy's Neva Grout for collaborating with us and sharing most of the content in this post
You're being asked to provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students in a pandemic event. What does this look like?
Before you can start planning
There are a number of things to consider in regards to remote learning:
- While parents and caretakers have a vital role, this is NOT home schooling.
- You can’t expect to keep the same guidelines and routines you did in a face-to-face environment.
- Setting priorities and focusing your learning is an absolute MUST in order to set your students up for success.
Teaching remotely requires more upfront work, particularly designing and inputting course materials thoughtfully into a course management system. Remote teaching success is about course organization, making sure content is clear, posted in the right place, and anticipating student questions.
Time flows differently in an online class. The ways in which students interact with you and each other will be different than in a face-to-face setting. It is critical that you build in time each week that mindfully addresses how you interact with your students and build a community.
An architecture of engagement
An architecture of engagement is necessary to facilitate those experiences in an online environment. This is done by ensuring three “presences”:
1. Cognitive Presence
This is essentially your content and what students will learn and do.
- Utilize backward design, which requires instructors to identify learning objectives for their course as well as the evidence that supports those objectives. Once the established learning objectives and evidence are created, instructors scaffold instruction to support the objectives.
- Make short (five minutes or less) videos each week explaining what the students are learning.
- On the assignment, write the curriculum competencies and core competencies.
- Build in reflection time as part of the assignment, not as an afterthought.
- Share examples or student samples of what proficiency looks like. There are numerous ways to engage students that allow them to demonstrate their learning in a variety of creative ways such as informational videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.
- Due dates and chunking of assignments is critical to ensure students are on task.
2. Instructor Presence
Many academics seem to believe that students should be able to walk themselves through an online course without much active guidance from the instructor. That is a recipe for disaster. Instead:
- Plan to guide your online class actively; frequently comment and interact with your students.
- Be responsive and provide timely feedback.
- Provide rubrics with clear expectations.
- Hold online office hours according to a schedule, by appointment, or both.
- Post a quick video to clarify misconceptions about a class topic or assignment.
- Create an informal two-minute explainer video to flesh out some details of an assignment.
- Post announcements, give further explanations, provide tips on forthcoming assignments, and answer questions.
3. Social Presence
Design experiences for your students that allow them to see you and each other. Put students into small groups for collaborative sessions in their own online "breakout" rooms.
In a world of remote learning, classes can be asynchronous or synchronous. What does this mean?
- Synchronous learning involves online studies that are conducted with the aid of tools like instant messaging or video chat. This kind of learning can only happen online and requires synchronous communication between students and teachers — meaning all parties need to be online at the same time.
- Asynchronous learning can be conducted even if all parties aren’t online at the same time. Material is shared online by the teacher and then received, completed, and sent back by the student at their convenience before the deadline.
The main differences are that synchronous = online, while asynchronous = online and offline. Similar to inside a classroom, synchronous learning empowers learners through immediate feedback. Asynchronous learning is much more flexible and promotes student ownership of their time.
Learn more about synchronous and asynchronous learning with these great resources
- eLearners — Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning
- ThoughtCo. — What is the difference between asynchronous and synchronous learning?
- Sample of distance learning / online learning template
Connecting with your community
Establishing a connection with your remote learning community is vital to achieving continuity of learning. Like any thriving community, communication is key.
We've put together a short document to help schools plan their strategies for communication between administration, staff, families, and students. Feel free to make a copy and adjust it for the needs of your own school.
Word from the BC Ministry
The British Columbia Ministry of Education has a lengthy FAQ available on their website that may help to answer many of the questions and concerns that teachers, parents, and students are having right now.
Head right here to read this important document.