By Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel
With online teaching becoming a reality for many educational institutions in the coming semester/year due to COVID-19, the questions are what the key challenges in education will be and how to overcome them. An obvious challenge is the transformation of teaching material and delivery to accommodate the online format. However, in today’s post I’d like to highlight three additional challenges that I have identified by working closely with colleagues at my institution (shout-out to my amazing colleagues in Psychology at the University of Glasgow who have worked endlessly to ensure a positive student experience in these challenging times) and speaking to educators worldwide. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it formed a framework for preparing for teaching in these difficult times. Before diving in, it is important to keep in mind that these points are not special to online teaching. In fact, they apply to and are crucial for all teaching contexts – it just seems that with the change in how teaching is delivered, there is a greater priority of discussing these aspects.
Communication & Signposting
Transparent and timely communication with students is crucial. Students will have to know where they find information and how they can ask for help. Clearly communicating to them what channels will be used for what purpose is vital to avoid confusion. Consistency is the keyword here. This way they know exactly where they have to go to find a specific piece of information. For example, one channel to post material and another for more interactive discussions are the approach that I am using in my teaching this semester. Prepare an initial ‘Welcome’ message or video to students to describe the procedures and offer reminders along the way. I cannot emphasize this enough, but providing consistency and structure is appreciated by students (1) – always, but particularly in the times we are living right now.