June 17 (IndiaToday) – The Covid-19 pandemic significantly altered the teaching-learning dynamics in higher educational institutions, influencing how educators and students interact. Business schools had to grapple with adapting to governments’ measures to contain the spread of the virus (via lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing), whilst ensuring educational continuity.
Learning online is dependent on internet access and devices (laptops, mobile phones, or tablets), which many students may not have access to, or may face system disruptions and errors.
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Moreover, online learning process comes with its own set of challenges for students, including decreasing motivation to attend online classes, lowered peer-to-peer interactions, delayed feedback or help from educators, feelings of isolation, or lack of physical exercise and screen fatigue.
There was a time when online learning was only considered as a supplementary pedagogical tool to mainstream education. The pandemic, however, drastically transitioned it into a fully online experience.
While experimenting with the digital teaching-learning format, educators can elevate the classroom learning experience and enhance student engagement by developing contemporary teaching skills discussed below.
Teaching skills which can engage students in digital classrooms
1. Break up a 90-min class structure into 30-30-30 format: 30 min of explaining core concepts, followed by 30 min of hands-on online activity, followed by 30 min of linking the activity with concepts taught.
2. Organise class materials (slides, in-class polls and quizzes, videos) beforehand to ensure seamless and disruption free classroom experience.
3. Leverage collaborative tools (e.g. Miro) to engage students in a real-time manner during online classes.
4. Rely on asynchronous learning (off-line) e.g. pre-reading chapters, watching recorded lectures, case studies, playing simulations, excel-based exercises, etc. to expand students’ horizons.
5. Include visual aids that make it easier for students to follow in an online setting.
6. Incorporate case studies, projects, and simulation-based learning to enable practical learnings about complex business environments.
7. Curate home work as group assignments, to ensure students frequently interact with their peers online while achieving the goal of conceptual clarity.
8. Frequent usage of polls, quizzes, and breakout sessions (for those who use Zoom) in online classrooms to gauge student learning, ensuring attentiveness, and retention of information.
9. Use of learning management systems (LMS) and analytics software to track student performance.
10. Incorporate gamification elements (e.g. leaderboards, badges, certificates) to recognize students’ accomplishments and active class participation.
Empathy is the biggest skill for teachers!
All said and done, in times like these, the most important skill educators can bring to their digital classrooms is empathy.
These times have been especially hard on students who are already facing digital fatigue and social isolation, or living in areas where electricity and internet connections are unreliable, facing challenges in their home environments, experiencing fears and anxieties about their well-being and careers, or may have faced personal or professional losses.
We all stand to exhibit solidarity with our students and hand-hold them through these tough times.
An adage to abide by, I quote the words of the famous football coach Bill Parcells, “A good teacher creates an environment which allows their students to succeed”.
– Article by Dr. Sheetal Menon, Assistant Professor, Strategic Management, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon
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