The pandemic rampaging the world right now has forced ‘everyone’ into hiding. The face to face contact which has been the bedrock for teaching and learning in our conventional educational sectors has been crumbled consequentially. Teachers could no longer relate (in teaching-practice) with his pupils/students while the Parents play wouldn’t dare release their children or wards to meet any Teacher whose health status in terms of Covid19 they could not vouch for.
This has given spike to alternative modes of teaching and learning and the closest is eLearning either as temporary alternative or permanent. Schools, Organizations (Government, Religious, Business etc.) are recently migrating to virtual interactions rather than face-to-face. This was not prepared for. It was not at all considered while planning for Academic Calendar by Schools but somewhat every School has to move with the trend. This article is to provide insights for School Administrators into how they can easily migrate to eLearning detailing the steps to take and what to take note of.
Technology is the solution to look up to in enhancing teaching and learning. However, these fundamentals MUST be taken care of in our drive for eLearning:
Contents: By virtue of no class / face-to-face contacts, our study materials otherwise known as textbooks, handouts, notes, pamphlets etc.) must take a new shape, not in colours but in development and design. You need to determine in what format will these contents be delivered to your recipients/pupils/students and this largely depends on the demographical features of your recipients. It will be a huge loss and waste of time if your recipients are chiefly low-income earners and you turned the contents of your eLearning to be Video Broadcast which might require ‘huge’ data and Internet-enabled device. It therefore implies that; your choice of instructional contents should take bear in mind the status of the users of such contents.
More so, the method of developing the eLearning contents significantly differ from the method instructional contents meant for face-to-face class teachings. One is fundamentally teacher-centered while the other is student-centered. In other words, your teaching materials must be developed in such a way that, the recipients/users/students will have no or limited need of asking you further questions or explanations to obtain full knowledge of what the contents is intended to pass. The use of conversational terms, self-instructive glossary or study guide, measurable terms among others cannot be over-emphasized. The contents either audio, video, textual or audio-visual must be enriched with assessments before, during and after study so as to ensure unwavering readers’ concentration while appraising the learning objectives from time to time.
Another point to be noted is the technology to drive the delivery of the contents. If you have perfectly developed your learning contents but made a wrong choice about the mode or channel of delivering the contents to the end-users, it is equivalent to wasted efforts. If your contents are majorly textual and you can afford some the acquisition of Content Management System (CMS) it will be awesome to have your contents populated on your CMS website while your recipients are directed to the address to access or for possible downloads. Otherwise, you can fast-track the delivery of your contents on Mobile Applications such as Telegram or Whatsapp or Cloud-Storage Solutions such as Dropbox, Google Drive etc. In the same vein, if your contents are audio, you can check through some of these free solutions (Captivate FM, BissSprout, Anchor Fm, Transistor FM, Mixlr, Simplecast, Castos, PodBean among others.) which allow you class broadcasts to be aired online in form of Audio (MP3) either LIVE or pre-recorded and available to audience supplied with the links.
Instructional Delivery: Another major consideration for eLearning is the mode of teaching the contents. If you wish to make your class sessions in form of videos, you can create a Youtube channel for free using a gmail account and upload your recorded video sessions online. All required of your end-users is to go to the channel to access the recorded videos. You can as well make the videos only accessible to those people with the lecture video links and not to unauthorized persons. Other platforms to store and share your video teachings include Vimeo, Twitch, Dailymotion, Metacafe, Wistia etc. I left out Facebook and Instagram because of easy distractions especially for the pupils/students.
Learning Interactions and Engagement: It is pertinent to think and plan for seamless interactions, forum, discussions among parties in teaching and learning process. The interactions could be on the topics studied, assessments among others. In an eLearning environment, the teachers are usually taken for the role of instructor and facilitator rather than Teacher. The Teacher could extract certain discussion topics from the video lectures he/she has delivered or the textual contents and post same for students to discuss. The contributions from the participating students can be graded or assessed with feedbacks. This motivates learning and encourages the Students to not substitute their eLearning Classes for Chelsea Versus Arsenal Match. Few of the solutions that could be deployed for discussions include Google Classroom Discussion, Telegram, Whatsapp etc. The key focus is that Teachers have to play the role of Facilitators guiding the discussion momentum among the students.
Other critical things to consider in migrating to eLearning include Assessment Mode and Method as well as the technologies to deploy in enhancing this. Few of the solutions for assessment could be Google Form which allows Multiple Choice Questions, Assessment Forms for Questions and Questionnaires etc. Finally, the complete solution that takes care of these key components of eLearning is Learning Management System (LMS). There are great numbers of LMS that your School or Organization can deploy ranging from free to premium. Examples of free LMSs are MOODLE, Schoology, Sakai CLE, Myicourse, Forma LMS, Coggno, Atutor, Dokeos, CourseSites, iTunes U, Latitude Learning. These solutions in most cases have provision for all eLearning fundamentals. You might do well check them out. Thank you.
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