Transitioning To Distant Instruction – eLearning Business
Attention to detail and your own growth are crucial
In 2020, “zoom” evolved from an occasionally used verb to an indispensable and capitalized communication device (“zoom”) in our daily lives. Whether via this service or another online platform, the teaching and learning process has clearly turned a corner. Even if we look back to normal, there is no going back to the pre-pandemic status quo.
The reason is simple: despite the difficulties and limitations of learning online, there are also obvious advantages. Those positives include ease of access, the elimination of the costs associated with stationary study space, and, to be honest, the convenience of staying in your pajamas.
This is sobering and immensely liberating recognition. I have worked in the adult education industry for nearly 30 years with a focus on mentoring professionals looking for specialized or advanced certifications. During that time, much of my company’s challenge was the practical, logistical concerns of getting students to a hotel or conference center.
Those days are sure to return as personal learning has clear benefits and we are a very social species. However, we now know that this is not the only way to get to work.
For those with a history of effective face-to-face teaching, there is no guarantee that your effectiveness will carry over to distance learning. Such a cyber shift requires attention to detail, including a willingness to let go of what worked face-to-face and implement new techniques.
Transition to remote instruction
In this transition, here are three key elements that should be part of any teacher’s repertoire:
1. Spice up the visuals
Wherever they are, your students have many familiar, alluring distractions to draw in. So, think about how to get and keep the attention to yourself. These 3 Ps are a good place to start:
- PowerPoint slides that don’t just tell what you’re already saying, but create practical, memorable nuggets of the most important information. (If you prefer a different medium over PowerPoint, the same suggestion applies.)
- Asking questions that can help introduce a new topic, encourage engagement, and help students learn from one another through their responses. (Just make sure to vote sparingly to avoid stalling your presentation.)
- Photos, illustrations and infographics that underline a principle or an important point.
Make an effort not to be just a “talking head”. It’s okay to appear in front of the camera in certain spots, but think about ways to turn your students’ screens into a dynamic learning space.
2. Prioritize your biggest points
Trying to do too much can result in too little learning.
Identify the key elements of anything you want to cover and take the time to figure out how to most effectively communicate this material. Make it clear to your students which parts of the class are most important so they know they really need to focus during these times.
If your goal is to help the “majors in the majors” and take away what is most important, it is the right way to get them extra attention from time to time.
3. Watch your tone
With only your face on screen, instructors can’t rely on body language like they would in a classroom. In any case, it is not a best practice for your mug to dominate student screens, as noted in the “Pee-up the Visuals” section above.
Hence, varying the tone and pitch of your voice is an absolute must. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. There are many instructional videos available that offer tips to assist with your delivery, including remarks from voice over veteran Peter Baker.
Invest the time to grow in this area and your students will reap the benefits. If this all feels like acting, then get it. Your new (recurring) role is that of an online teacher. Embrace it!
While this list is far from complete, these steps provide a permanent foundation that any online classroom setting should support. During this pandemic, they were instrumental in helping my company continue to serve professionals in the nearly 20 cities where our reach has expanded since the early 1990s.