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Differentiating between different online learning environments

We are in a temporary transition, which calls for us to react with certain considerations in mind. First things first, it’s important to understand the clear differences in education when using technology. 

We’re going to define the different teaching experiences you can have and analyze the considerations we should have when engaging our students in each one.  

Now, let’s review some of these learning environments to understand the main differences.

“Face-to-face learning is an instructional method where course content and learning material are taught in person to a group of students.” 

https://tophat.com/glossary/f/face-to-face-learning/

In a face-to-face teaching environment teachers can easily create a rapport with students and implement classroom management strategies easily by physical location of students, groupings, etc. In this kind of teaching environment it’s important to consider the classroom environment with things that will engage students, motivate them to participate, and promote collaborative and active learning. It could be said that doing these activities are easier in a physical classroom, where you can use tone of voice, physical prompts set up in the classroom, or even body language. 

“Blended learning combines classroom learning with online learning, in which students can, in part, control the time, pace, and place of their learning.”

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/The-Basics-of-Blended-Instruction.aspx

Blended learning takes one the best of both worlds and promotes autonomous learning, as well as scheduled encounters or interactions with students. 

“Online learning results from careful instructional design and planning, using a systematic model for design and development

There are nine dimensions that offer levels of complexity and alternatives for teachers. These  are modality, pacing, student-instructor ratio, pedagogy, instructor role online as well as  student role online, online communication synchrony, role of online assessments, and finally source of feedback” https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

Online learning involves a highly prepared learning environment that is set up so students can learn on their own and participate or collaborate using different spaces like forums. This kind of education requires an LMS, Learning Management System, that can track students progress and allow online teachers to give feedback. There are many variations of online education, but they all have the above-mentioned characteristics in common.  

Now, let’s move on to the one that we should be focusing on during this crisis, which is remote teaching. 

Remote Learning “occurs when the learner and instructor, or the content, are separated by time and distance and therefore cannot meet in a traditional classroom setting. Information is typically transmitted using technology, be it email, discussion boards, video conference, or audios so that no physical presence in the classroom is required.” 

https://trainingindustry.com/glossary/remote-learning/

Emergency remote teaching (ERT) “refers to  a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances.”

https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

Many teachers are struggling to transition into an online teaching environment, when in reality it really comes down to determining the best delivery mode for your students. Here are some ideas to consider on the connectivity considering they have a device available like a computer or laptop.

Connectivity

Ideas 

Students don’t have internet access at all 

  • If they have computers available, save on a USB the activities along with recorded instructions for students to follow. Have students save the activities on the same USB and return to you.
  • Send text messages with the instructions for tasks students can complete on their own. 

Students have access to internet for brief moments during the day

  • Send emails with activities that they can complete and send back. 
  • Use an LMS, Learning Management System, or similar platforms like Google Classroom, Edmodo, Schoology to send, receive and grade activities. 
  • Chunk activities so students can finish in time if they are expected to do online activities.

Students have stable access for up to 2 hours daily

  • Hold live sessions with a video conferencing tool like Google Meet or Zoom. 
  • Assign collaborative activities using Google Drive or similar platforms. 
  • Assign brainstorming and collaborative activities like Padlet. 

Students have stable access 2 or more hours a day

  • Do activities in real time such as Pear Deck, Nearpod or similar platforms. 
  • Assign self-paced activities on platforms like Deck Pear, Blendspace or Nearpod. 

Note: As you move lower on the chart, you can continue using the aforementioned activities 

If the students don’t have any device available: 

  • Make an alliance with a local radio station to offer the students their lessons at specific times of the day. 
  • Print the activities and organize a distribution network, for students to work independently.
  • Create a learning hub in your community so students can pass by with the safety considerations to pick up and drop off learning material. 
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Making your students lives easier while remote teaching

Although it is true that teachers may be struggling while they are implementing emergency remote teaching strategies, they are not alone. Students are also having to digest quite a bit, as well as facing the crisis itself. 

So, why not find ways to make this transition a bit easier on them as well. Here are some ideas: 

1.Make a cheat sheet

Create a one to two-page cheat sheet where students can find all of the most important information for your course. By using a cheat sheet, your students can easily find the information they need and not feel lost between emails, links, platforms, etc.  Download our template for a remote teaching cheat sheet. 

2.Chunk lessons 

Remote teaching is a different kind of learning environment and we should consider the content that we are expecting our students to learn. The chunking strategy refers to breaking down information into smaller pieces so the brain can process and understand them more easily. This strategy is especially important in any kind of online learning environment since it allows for a logical and progressive way of navigating the course. When chunking you can implement some different techniques and strategies to continuously check concepts like chunk-challenge-chew-chat-check. 

3. Group work and collaboration

Even though you are teaching remotely you can still promote collaboration and group work in your lessons. These can be either synchronous or asynchronous.

  • Breakout rooms in Zoom to have students work in smaller groups or even pairs. 
  • Use shared documents to have students work together outside of the live session. 
  • Give students different roles and responsibilities for an activity so each can work individually but then piece everything together during the live session. 
  • Pair project work- Design a project where students can work together to complete the different stages either together or collaboratively. The students should present progress checks and report to the teacher. 

 

4. Use video and audio clips (multimedia) 

Students are used to having a teacher explain to them, so using these to explain instructions can bring you closer to them and promote a better understanding of the tasks, remember to give examples when necessary. As for student work, students can put their 21st-century skills to the test  while recording, editing, and sharing videos or audios. 



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Using Pear Deck to promote engagement in remote teaching

In our ELT Lounge held on April 29, we explored how to use Pear Deck and found out how we could make the most of it for our current emergency remote teaching circumstances. Here you’ll find the video of our session, but we’d also like to share with you some additional tips for using Pear Deck.

Tip # 1: Use the Google Slide Add-on (Recommended)

Especially if you are using Google Drive and Google Classroom with your students, it’ll really save you some time when creating your lessons. Find out how to get the add-on here.

Great for saving and recycling your lessons. 

Tip #2: Use the student-paced lessons

You can organize your slides so that students can work through the slides and interact with them with a deadline. You can track their progress through Pear Deck and when you’re finished you can get the results and export the Takeaways (students’ results are saved as individual Google Docs in a Google Drive folder).  

Tip #3: Add audios to slides

When sharing the slides for student-paced activities, adding audio will definitely change your students’ experience while completing the activity. You can easily add audio to your slides to prompt your students, offer instructions, or even just motivate them. Learn how to add the audios here.

Tip #4: Use Pear Deck for remote learning

During this pandemic. It has become even more essential for us teachers to find tools that offer options when teaching remotely and Pear Deck stands the test. It allows you to teach in live sessions, in student-paced lessons and they even offer ideas to use it for remote learning. Check out the video to find out more about How to teach a remote lesson with Pear Deck.

Be sure to sign up for our next ELT Lounge.