Although live training is something new in schools, imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the technology is not new, since multinational organizations have used it for a long time.
An online session can hardly be as fluid as a conversation, class or face-to-face meeting. However, it is a fabulous solution, whenever people cannot be together, because of the distance or for health safety reasons, as is the case during the current Covid-19 crisis.
It is so easy to realize who is not really “present” in an online meeting. People’s body language and the way people speak exposes them, and alleged “problems” with the camera or microphone are also an awful symptom. We always considered these attitudes as a lack of respect or disinterest. In such cases, it is better not to be present at all.
In the case of online classes, some best practices, that teachers and students can adhere to, can help achieve better results, with less effort or sacrifice for everyone.
Some simple recommendations for teachers and trainers:
- Thoroughly study the technology in use – someone will ask for help or clarification
- Always be available to help – not everyone masters the technology
- Respond to queries immediately or within one business day
- In all sessions give a warm and heartfelt welcome – perhaps a brief icebreaker activity
- Focus on active learning – when online, there is still less “patience” for extensive readings or lectures. Activities have to be diversified and used frequently
- When people need to speak for a while, it will be useful to use interesting tonal variations, gestures and presentation of something visual, to keep attention levels
- Maximum clarity in instructions and delivery dates for tasks and activities
- Sending a notice on the eve of the delivery dates, to everyone who has not yet met, can help
- Activities in asynchronous mode must be related to the previous or next synchronous session, and the time of completion must be well estimated by the teacher.
- Giving feedback or evaluation of the submitted tasks in a reasonable and short term – helps to avoid demotivation
- Being physically and mentally present is essential – it is better to resolve all pending issues beforehand or schedule another time to do so
- It is necessary to diversify the way to attract attention: personalized videos, visual compositions, creative and even competitive games, asking for tasks to be presented in different ways (writing, voice recording, video, drawing, construction), promotion of interaction (group work), challenges, quizzes, questionnaires or research activities on the internet.
- Asking for an opinion on the type of activities proposed and asking for ideas on how students would like to present their work and being evaluated leads to more common interests
- During discussions, the teacher must actively participate and let ideas flow freely
Some simple notes for students (and also for teachers):
- DO NOT YELL – capital letters in the chat have this effect
- Sarcasm – there is always a (negative) return
- One should not abuse of chat messages – who will be able to read everything?
- Before asking a question – try to have an answer and validate it
- Write in a grammatically correct form in chat – these are not Text Messages between friends
- Keep tone and words of respect – so any questions or comments are valid
- Submit work as and when requested – otherwise it does not serve its purpose, the evaluation
- Read before answering – whatever the request for the activity, it should be well understood and, if in doubt, ask for clarification
- Think carefully before writing (or speaking) – it is not necessary, nor useful, to be hasty. Speed does not mean competence
- Kindness and politeness are always right – as always
- The camera must always be on and the microphone off, whenever there is no need to speak – the camera off implies no participation and the microphone always on introduces unnecessary noise. Headphones with microphone prevent parasitic noise
- One should not be checking emails or messages on the phone or chatting with someone else while online – people will notice a lack of attention
- Students should be aware that online classes have the same value as face-to-face classes, and can sometimes be the only way to be assessed
- Practice will help a lot!
Hope people will challenge some of these best practices and that someone feels the urge to add others, passing them on to students or teachers, depending on the role of each one.
Good online classes!
Daniel Lança Perdigão, Strategist & Visual Thinker, UpSideUp.pt