Keeping in touch with students online in difficult times
Previously, I suggested Australian educational institutions should be prepared
to implement blended/e-learning, if some, or all, students are not able
to attend campus, due to the Novel Coronavirus,
bush-fires, or other emergency. Some institution plan to switch to online learning, but teachers need to know what to do. The Australian National University provide a series of free online short "Coffee Courses". The course "Engaging students online", points out that online students can feel isolated, but this can be countered by the teacher creating a sense of social presence.The teacher can take a few easy steps to make themselves disable to the student (including literally providing a picture of themselves), and having activities to promote engagement between students.
The ANU's Katie Freund suggests setting expectations and creating space for engagement. Students need to be encouraged to participate, but given some idea of how much, what and where to.
In the case of online learning in response to an emergency, the student's limited access also needs to be taken into account. They may in particular not able to play videos. So it is a good idea to provide text, supplemented with small images, as an alternative for those who can't access videos. A student may be relying on their smart phone, rather than a desktop, or laptop, computer, so the content should be formatted to suit a small device.
Students may be in temporary accommodation surrounded by distractions, so any exercises need to be short, and clear.
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