Top 3 Challenges with Teaching Remotely, And The Best Way Forward
“Ashima, please sit properly.”
“Prayag, what are you doing? Please pay attention.”
“Maanya, did you understand that?”
You can hear these and similar questions across households in India, or perhaps the entire world. As governments, schools, and teachers worldwide attempt to ensure uninterrupted education to students worldwide, challenges are aplenty.
Online learning was already growing. but teaching remotely has now become part of the new normal. Varun Gupta of Avendus Capital says that:
“Offline players will increasingly become more hybrid, and digital players will increasingly become mainstream.”
The abrupt transition to remote education is posing challenges for teachers. The young generation of students is tech-savvy. While they too feel the disruption, things are not too far from normalcy for them. But for most teachers who are used to classroom education, teaching remotely has been quite an uphill task. They are fighting a two-way battle. They are learning the ropes of digital technologies and tools. On the other hand, they need to teach and manage the students remotely.
This article will discuss some of the challenges teachers discover when learning how to teach remotely, and how they can approach these bottlenecks to ensure they can continue teaching effectively.
Maintaining Student Engagement When Teaching Remotely
While there is a study that shows students learn better in online learning, it is more challenging to ensure engagement in an online class than in-person teaching. Students acquire a more passive role than in a traditional classroom. Such passive participation means that students might listen, but not internalise the lessons.
The home also presents more distractions. Classrooms were meant to be for focused learning. At home, it is difficult to get the same kind of isolation. Hence, the chances are that even the most engaged students will get distracted often.
Monotonous educational content is the third challenge for engagement in the remote learning environment. Monotony is an issue even with physical classrooms. It becomes more pronounced with remote teaching.
Many solutions now provide flexibility for teachers to create multi-form content. Leading learning apps come pre-equipped with standard learning curriculum. The school teaching app iGnite allows teachers to upload their own content in any form — text, presentations, images, videos, or audio. The variety of formats allow users to use their preferred way of learning. This flexibility ensures better learning outcomes.
Devices also play a significant role. There are many excellent educational resources that utilise iPad for students, and similar tablets for schools to provide a comfortable learning environment. With appropriate weight, size and capabilities, such devices help students engage with content more easily. Given the rich Apple eco-system for education, iPad is, in fact, fast becoming the educational tablet for kids.
Understanding Individual Strengths, Weaknesses, and Needs
Feedback is critical for teachers to assess whether the students understand what they are taught. When the students are face-to-face, it is easy to observe as response is real-time and visual. However, with remote education, it is quite tricky.
Discussion, assessments, tests, quizzes and assignments all play a critical role in helping a teacher understand a student’s capabilities. Teaching platforms have started offering innovative solutions in this area. Quizzes in-between the online class or on-demand videos, real-time monitoring of student progress through detailed analytics, and facilities for feedback loops help teachers understand and improve each student’s capabilities.
While regular assessments and tests offer evaluative feedback, the students also need more goal-focused guidance. Better designed dashboards that offer multi-dimensional insights into students’ performance can also help teachers adjust and personalize the learning material and delivery for students.
While dealing with technological challenges needs participation from the government, schools, teachers and parents, teachers find themselves at the front-end of technical issues. India now has an impressive internet penetration, but it is not without glitches. Online, live classes using Zoom and other similar platforms do provide ways to mimic the physical classroom, but there is no guarantee that these sessions will be free of any interruptions. There are also concerns about the increased use of devices. The worry is primarily about the impact of the prolonged consumption on children’s eyes.
Fortunately, many solution providers are utilizing the power of devices like iPad for students to ensure these challenges are met to a great extent. A few solutions offer offline content so that students can revisit any content even beyond classrooms. Students can take 40-60% less time to learn with offline capabilities than in a physical or live online classroom. The offline content availability enables students to learn at their own pace and revisit and accelerate through the content they choose. For health concerns, students can utilize nigh mode to reduce strain on eyes.
Any transition has its challenges. Education has already been moving towards a hybrid model, and Covid19 has just accelerated the pace. The pandemic will subside, and we will return to a more physical world, but education is still likely to be hybrid, and teaching remotely will playing a significant role. Teachers and students are the two most affected entities in this transition. Both schools and parents should have a long term plan to navigate and leverage this transformation.