For university teachers – methods for distance learning
(Translated by Triinu Soomere)
Given the situation, it is necessary to apply a different approach in the organisation and structure of teaching. When planning educational activities, it is important to remember that this is a new situation both for the students and faculty, and some challenges are inevitable.
Even if we are using a new approach, it is our job to support the learning of our students. Here are some options how to organise distance learning:
1. Think about the most important thing to learn in the subject. Try not to overly worry - not all previously planned activities can be done in the new situation.
2. Instead of 4 contact hours, it is not sensible to organise video lectures or seminars of the same length because neither the lecturers nor the students can focus their attention in equal measure through the web.
3. When planning teaching, a thematic plan could be divided into three parts as follows: 1) an independent pre-task for the learners, 2) support to learning, 3) reinforcing and summarizing tasks.
a) The learners' independent pre-assignment may be reading a text, watching a video or listening to an audio file. For independent work, give precise instructions and a concrete task related to the material (e.g. write a summary, write questions, answer questions from the lecturer). Summaries of independent work can be posted by learners to e-learning platform or another environment you know (Google Drive or Teams, Padlet).
b) Support to learning is particularly important for distance learning, so that the learner feels a connection with both the lecturer and the subject. Perception of this support by students fosters learning. There are various ways for supporting learning:
Giving feedback on pre-assignments (provided by peers or lecturers). Collaborative learning based on an independent pre-assignment (e.g. webinar, asynchronous discussions in the forum).
Organising discussions between students - learners can choose the environment where they discuss themselves.
For discussion purposes, study pairs can also be formed. Learners present the result of their discussion in the environment you offer.
In addition to written short summaries, learners present their discussions as an audio file (agree on the length beforehand).
The more smaller intermediate assignments for students, the better overview you have about how they are doing. It gives you the opportunity to control if and how learning is progressing.
c) To finalize and consolidate learning, design final assignments / (self-tests) quizzes, discussion summaries, learning journal entries. Ideas can be found at https://www.uky.edu/celt/50-classroom-assessment-techniques-cats
d) Plan giving feedback to student assignments. In the current situation, contact with the lecturer is especially important to understand how the learner is progressing.
4. Discuss your plans with colleagues and/or department director, maybe you can combine different homework. This helps to keep your own workload and that of your learners reasonable.
5. Inform students about reorganization of teaching and educational activities and new schedules.
6. We've put together some simple and handy techniques for distance learning: Simple tips for teaching
7. Visiting Professor James Groccia Shared tips for distance learning: 11 Things to Consider When Moving Your Course Online and Study Habits
8. Tips for adapting assessment for distance learning