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Important checklist for online lesson plan

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Teaching and Learning principles remain the same, whether it is online or in-person; however, remote teaching requires extra skills such as: digital literacy, technical requirements, online lesson planning, motivation, empathy and repetitive communication for the effective teaching and learning.

Let me pen down a few insights/ ideas, we can include in a lesson plan to meet the virtual lesson objectives.

• Digital Ethics: The most important part of virtual teaching and learning is spreading awareness about online etiquettes and virtual class expectations. Educating learners to be: safe, disciplined, responsible, respectful and kind are a few character nurturing traits that need to be incorporated in the lesson plan, prior to beginning the teaching sessions. In this digital awareness activity, learners share their ideas in writing or speaking, about how to be selective and safe in the digital learning environment. A famous quote fits perfect in this digital era: ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ 

Planning: Teachers can prepare for their first virtual lesson by getting the lay of the land. Teachers send the scheduled link to the learners prior to the meeting. Learners then click at the link on the class’ date and time to join the class. A flipped learning method is recommended in both the settings, face-face and virtual lesson plan, as it saves class time for meaningful activities. In flipping the lesson, introducing and explaining the topic is assignedn as a preparatory homework activity before the lesson, so learners are aware of the upcoming class content and are ready to take part in further class discussions and critical thinking problems.

•Technical Requirements:  We have been learning a lot of up-to-the-minute digital skills to mitigate the remote teaching demands. Some of the essentials of remote teaching are : calm seating area with presentable background, a computer or similar specification gadget, strong internet connection, optional camera, headphones, a mouse, and speakers

A few digital lesson ideas are mentioned here: sharing resources via share button, sending appraisal notes via chat box, assigning pre-planned or instant breakout rooms to promote collaboration, switching on and off mute and camera options as per the necessity, drawing freeze moments ( storytelling lesson) and writing to highlight grammar errors with the help of annotating option, recording and sharing lesson transcripts for absentees, and include home-objects for imaginative lessons. The key is to experiment with available options, and to include them, if they relate and improve learning.

Share class agenda: We can use the screen sharing button to share a document with the class’ plan including lesson objectives and progress, so learners are well informed of the movements. 

•Flexibility: It has been noted that online teaching has become an advantage for some learners, for its flexibility. They record tasks such as writing a book review, from the comfort of their home, free from judgement, and share with the teacher. More of these fluid activities can be included in the lesson plan to extract the best out of every learner. 

•Communication: It is critical to keep learners on the same page as the instructor, just as in a face-face classroom. To do this, we need to give out clear instructions followed by the aim / objective of the task. For instance:  a teacher might say, "Now, I am going to share my screen—to take you to solve listening tasks.” Otherwise, we may experience moments such as my first online lesson: I switched platforms without sharing my screen, assuming learners could see the screen I was on (they couldn't!). In addition, to enhance class engagement, discuss with learners and create a classroom personal gestures list such as: thumbs up and down; heart; smiley; claps; surprised; partying and we may try out other virtual reactions available.

• Motivation: Learning blooms significantly, in motivational environments, in the form of genuine praise, encouragement and rewards. Rewarding motivates learners to achieve high academic excellence and perhaps the motivated learning can inspire them to  become life long learners.  At times, make students the presenter to encourage their presentation skills and give an opportunity for other students to understand the concepts from their peers, a creative learning approach.

• Empathy: A character trait to keep ourselves in the other person’s shoes. This quality is proven to meet learners’ levels and needs to tailor instructions, readiness to get assessed, and receive constructive feedback. Online teaching and learning mode demands higher levels of empathy, for we are less able to see the learning process and its challenges: technical, academic or social. Give learners waiting time to open and read the document shared. 
Use a neutral empathetic accent so that all learners, regardless of their home language, can understand and get benefit from a lesson. We can create opportunities and wait patiently for learners: to ask questions, to take part in class discussions, to react, and to comment. 

•Learning Management System:  When learning has been moved fully online, following up with learners’ progress has also become a question. The creative solution to get learners’ accurate data on efforts —has become incredibly easy by applying online data trackers or a Learning Management System. It helps educators get teaching and learning materials in one place.

• Resilience: The global education sector has been playing a splendid role in adapting to the change; despite screen burn-out, and facing brand new challenges every day. They continue the journey with fresh energy and spirit and have shared lots of innovative solutions. For instance, a frozen screen, on a particular lesson may prevent a teacher from completing the day’s plan. Having a backup plan, or a mindset to overcome the issues—can help us to be resilient, gentle and calm. In such scenarios, we can utilize the class time with either: plan B or instantly-created activities.