If you have found yourself abruptly transported to an online educational context, I would like to give you some free tips from my own ten-year experience as an online University teacher:
1. Breathe deeply and relax
It is not as difficult as it seems.
2. Check your digital devices
- Do you have a computer or laptop?
- Do you have a good internet connection?
- What devices do your students have?
- Do you remember your passwords?
3. Considerer developing your PLE (personal learning environment) and your digital competence
In order to be able to help your students to develop their digital competence, it is fundamental that you update your own.
- Where do you find information and activities on the internet?
- Are those pages safe and secure?
- Are they reliable and accurate?
- Are they adequate for your students´ ages?
- What digital tools do you know?
- What digital tools do you use?
- What digital tools are most appropiate for the different skills? (reading, writing, speaking and listening) How many do you use?
- How do you learn from other teachers on the internet?
- Do you help your students to reflect on their own PLE?
- Do you help your students to develop their digital competence?
4. Try the platforms beforehand
- Connect to the online lesson well before it is due to begin, at least 15 minutes before.
- Open the web pages you want to visit and prepare a list of all the items you want to go through during the session.
- If you are going to use a new digital tool you haven't tried before, test it out with your family, with friends or colleagues, to make sure you feel comfortable with how it works.
5. Interact with the students
- If your students are at home, remember, they are alone, looking at the screen, probably bored and just one step away from disconnecting. Try not to give very long speeches; include interactive presentations with questions on it; give them the opportunity to talk, write or draw. In other words, give them the protagonist role.
- Don't abandon group activities. Their learning must be active.
- Remember digital tools are there to help us.
- However, acknowledge that you are not an expert, just try some resources and see how they work. Not all at the same time. Introducing one or two digital tools can make a big difference in an online lesson.
6. Always have a plan B
- Bear in mind the golden rule: what can go wrong will go wrong.
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket: don´t rely on just one web page or platform. Knowledge is power. The more digital tools you know, the easier it will be to adapt to unexpected circumstances.
And remember, ultimately you are the key tool. The context may change, the resources may change and the strategies may change, but you are an experienced teacher and you can deal with this and much more.
Relax, sit in front of the camera, smile and teach, you know how to do that.
Ingrid Mosquera Gende, PhD.
I'd add that it can be a bad idea to do a web search during a lesson without first changing the search filter to strict. My colleague searched for an innocuous term and got some risque images as results (she was using Bing with SafeSearch: Moderate).
Thank you very much for that comment, Dan, good point.