Teaching Tips In The Midst of COVID-19

Online learning during COVID-19
Amidst the pain and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, professors are scrambling to transition their courses online. Here are some tips to ensure that students stay engaged during a time of social distancing.

Coronavirus also abbreviated as COVID-19, has officially been termed as the pandemic. In the mid February to March, the world was set on a lockdown. Confusing news alerts about the 2020-21 school year just kept coming. Amidst the pain and uncertainty of the surroundings, higher education was shifted from traditional face to face classes to online virtual classrooms. Many professors and students are scrambling to transition their courses online for the first time.

Here are some tips to ensure that students of the current school year stay engaged during a time of social distancing and some strategies to limit plagiarism and cheating in the take home examinations.

Tips for transition from traditional to virtual

While shifting to quarantine online teaching, there are a number of challenges while maximizing the value for their students. While we pivot to the remote learning, here are some tips that would help to make the transition to online class sessions as seamless and effective as possible within a couple of weeks

Don’t change over your whole lecture to a video format

Students don't like to listen to just recorded audio lecture without the visual image of their facilitator. With a short attention span, they are unable to concentrate long term, so, instead of the usual traditional lecture of hours straight, it is better to break down the lecture into smaller components. This helps the students to stay focused and in turn better understanding and learning.

Emphasize on student engagement

While online learning may stay one sided, if the professor or the facilitator keeps a focus on just delivering his knowledge and does not promote student engagement. Let them select from a number of options where to read from regarding the lecture.

Often check-in with students

Through feedback and discussion, let the students tell you what issue they are facing, or even if they are on the same page as you are. It may occur that a number of students or two are unable to cope up and have stayed behind. So it's helpful to engage students by making them interact with each other in the online session but only a limited and specific.

Be it the traditional way of taking the class or a virtual online class through Zoom, a class always has students who need some special attention. Identify those students through frequent assessments. Keep a check on each student through phone, email or sms, mostly with the ones who are struggling.

Learn and adapt protocols for the virtual classroom

We're here for the professional development of educators and new teachers to help them with classroom management and to make the transition to online class sessions as seamless and effective as possible within a couple of weeks. We'll make it the best learning experience during this difficult and stressful time and make it possible for the teachers to be able to complete their syllabus.

Have the right tool

The tool you are using to deliver your sessions to your students, make sure that it is accessible to all. Select the tool that is easy to teach, learn and adapt to it. Choose a platform where collaborative contributions can be made like an online shared document on google docs. This tool is the keep for teamwork efforts in group projects in the times of this pandemic. Make sure to test the technology before-hand.

Backup plans for pandemic situations

Due to COVID‐19, all classes have moved toward online mode. Different issues which can happen are systemic and specialized issues. Some Institution do not have suitable assets and gear required for conducting online classes. All of these are noteworthy issues in running online classes, for case, over-burdening of server, need of computer gadgets, and incapable to perform software establishments. To cope up with these issues, institutions must be ready at all times.

Restrict cheating/plagiarism cases when you replace in-class exams to take-home examinations.

We understand that under the current circumstances instructors need to find alternative options for online learning and administering final exams at the end of the semester. In some cases, final exams can be formatted as multiple choice questions or true/false questions as long as there is a correct answer. We have seen these types of exams administered through online platforms like an LMS, Class Marker and Webassign. However, for more subjective forms of final assessments such as a written essay there is no single, clear answer. Taking home written assignments can open the door for the potential of students plagiarizing and/or collaborating to gain unfair advantages over their peers and does not encourage critical thinking.

In the modern virtual classroom, final take-home assignments can take the form of students presenting content either through audio, visual formats or both. This type of assessment deters academic dishonesty as students may not present and comprehend materials with their own strategy and voice.

How Can Kritik Help?

All Kritik assignments are associated with a rubric specifically designed for students to use for anonymous evaluation of their peer's submissions. By adding rubric criteria, students are encouraged and rewarded if they happen to identify any plagiarism while evaluating an activity.

Simulating In-Class Presentations

Many courses often rely on class presentations as a significant component of a students final grade. Kritik helps professors transition activities related to presentations into their online courses to implement their lesson plans effectively without having to compromise on the quality and effectiveness of a students work.

To give them a push and for further understanding, students are asked to narrate their written pieces, such as a monologue, essays, etc. Students can identify sentences that sound strange, or are difficult to make sense by listening back to them, which is a good way to identify whether too much information was derived directly from other texts rather than paraphrasing them.

How Can Kritik Help?

Additionally, it can be easier to identify if one has cheated on the assignment by detecting them by their voice. This can be applicable for smaller classes where the students are familiar with each other. For the subject matter, in the case of any bias or misjudgment, professors can oversee all allegations made by other students through Kritik's "dispute" and "flagged comments" features. It provides professors full visibility into any potential red flags raised by peers.

Virtual Classroom Management

Depending on the target audience that is the age of the students whom the teacher is teaching online, there are certain considerations that need to be kept into account for effective management of the virtual classroom.

A teacher must ensure that the classroom platform is being managed so the students will learn the remaining grade level successfully and are well prepared for the coming year.

  1. Create and maintain a routine
  2. Minimize the distractions; mute all phones.
  3. Set up behavioral expectations; dress code, polite language within the first week
  4. Dedicating office hours
  5. Develop class protocol; raising your hand before speaking
  6. Deal with discipline issues immediately
  7. Encourage questions
  8. Be friendly yet firm

How to prepare for online teaching

This is the first year that high school is rather different than it used to be, there is an absence of normal teaching methods that were used in-class, like blackboards and handouts. The good news is that the Virtual classroom through Zoom and Google Classroom are providing whiteboards, online worksheets, breakout rooms, discussion boards and online sharing of soft copies of handouts.

We're here for the professional development of educators and new teachers to help them with classroom management . We'll make it the best learning experience during this difficult and stressful time and make it possible for the teachers to be able to complete their syllabus.

Plan you class

To effectively manage the time and to make the most of the time. Because the time is short and some of it is also wasted in students joining late in class, so it is better to make a lesson plan before hand.

Technology

Prepare and master the platform you are going to use to deliver the lecture to your students. Make sure you have practiced a lot, so the technical errors does not hinder effectively delivery of the lecture. Check if the camera, microphone and the speakers are accurately working.

Working environment

Dedicate a place in your house for working, where your tools and other stuff you need is present at all times. this limits the distraction as well as makes you efficient.

Stimulate discussions

Good teachers are those who make a lecture interactive rather than just delivering from one sided only. When the students are not involved, they loose focus and thus decreased learning.

Communicate regularly

To effectively ensure your presence, keep communicating with the students at all times.  Not having a professor physically in front of them can make some students nervous. Give and take introductions to clear the air and to develop a sense of warmth and humility among the class. Students feel really nervous when the professor is not physically present in front of them.

Student motivation

Everybody learns in a different way - and inspiration plays an important role in learning. A few students are self-motivated, new things motivate them, while some students are not. Ways to motivate the students should be thought about. This may even include giving extra credit for optional assignments. Due dates may also push the unmotivated students. Your objective is to discover ways to assist your students to get the most out of your course.

These strategies can be particularly advantageous in developing a learning environment specially in remote learning.

Will student's really identify plagiarism?

Watch here as economics professor Alex Gainer explains how he uses Kritik to hold his students accountable for honesty and integrity. It is interesting to note how far students will go to assist professors in detecting potentially plagiarized material.

Kritik's Solution

Through Kritik's peer-to-peer evaluation platform, professors can maintain the same interactive and collaborative social environments that an in-class presentation holds. Kritik also offers group activities that can easily be tailored for group presentations. Professors assign projects where students create presentation slides through PowerPoint, and then add audio recordings to combine visual and oral components of a presentation. This can be advantageous for group presentations by allowing everyone to participate.

Can Kritik allow such large submission files?

Yes! Students using Kritik can submit large files of 100MB, providing more than enough storage for large audio, video or presentation files.

Virtual leaders of each group will have the opportunity to submit a PowerPoint presentation for peer evaluation through Kritik. Students can evaluate presentations based on the criteria designed in the rubric for this activity as well as provide critical feedback or questions for future improvements.

What Next? Supporting Higher Education in a time of need:

If you are interested in meeting with an instructional designer to see how you can use Kritik to improve assessments in virtual classes, please follow the link below. In response to the current events of COVID-19, Kritik will be offering our platform free of charge for any classes during the current term, or future classes that begin prior to April 15th, 2020.

Navinaa Sanmugavadivel
Education enthusiast

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