The revolution of online teachingTeaching and learning methods have evolved quite radically with time. Nowadays, almost every modern classroom is equipped with multimedia facilities, and teachers deliver their lectures by using computers, projectors, audio and video references etc. The idea is to provide students with an interactive environment to enhance their learning experience. It, indeed, is a great leap forward.
We now live in a world of technological revolution, where teaching and learning is going through previously incredible changes. Let us turn to the online education system. Already, the best of the universities around the world have adopted this change and have started teaching online. Online teaching has done away with the territorial boundaries, within which a nation's universities operate. They are now part of what we call global. This change comes with a price, as well as a demand. The price is that a teacher, no matter how good she/he is, cannot survive in the process of change with the old set of skills they used to require in the past. The demand of the time is a new set of skills and excellence.
So what has changed exactly? To put it in a simple way, we may say that the previous method of effective teaching was interactive, but still was very much passive to the students. The students had to depend on the teacher's lecture. The teacher just used some typical styles that made their lectures enjoyable, but the students found themselves within a boundary. They could not move out of those confines created by their teachers. The teachers' job was to guide the students into learning something. With online teaching, students are to play an active role where the teachers remain passive. The teachers now have to design their lectures and courses in a way where students are to engage in different activities, through which they discover their learning all by themselves. It is not the teacher to tell them anymore what is right or wrong, the students themselves discover it through guided activities.
The teachers' job now is to design the activities. We must also keep in mind that when we pick the concept of online, it represents a huge arena and it holds the possibility that anyone can be a student from around the world. Be it a twelve-year-old child or a PhD holding professor, they can all be the students of a single course. Revolutionary, isn't it? This possibility has also removed the barriers of age in education. There are many platforms now which have amply pointed to this possibility, especially the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Not only that, there is the possibility for anyone to be a teacher; and here too age and profession are not a factor if they meet the requirements to teach. All this has opened up a great possibility for education to translate into reality what is still out of our imagination.
Now let us focus on the requirements for teaching online. For online education, teachers need to play a passive role and need to be able to design their course activities in a meaningful and effective way, creating opportunities for the students to roam around the world of knowledge themselves and discover the learning they seek. For this, they need to have a good knowledge about the technologies and platforms that are available and which enable them to create and modify and share their course contents with the outside world.
Teachers require knowledge about the available Learning Management Systems (LMS) forums, blogs and tools that help in creating contents for the LMS. A teacher, without having knowledge about these and saying that he or she can handle online teaching, is like one who says he can survive under the sea without being equipped with a scuba gear. Online teachers also need to have the mentality to learn themselves, even from their students, and continuously work to use that learning to improve their courses. Therefore, taking feedback from the students after each lesson, and after the course, is imperative. Online teachers need to pay very close attention to each student's activity and skill levels. Then, accordingly, they create a suitable environment and opportunity for the particular students. Most of the online students prefer learning at their own pace. That is why it becomes difficult for the teacher to get into a direct communication with a student to identify his or her level. The teacher needs to depend a lot on the activities deployed in the course to identify that. In this context, planning the activities effectively is really a challenge to the online teacher. To solve it, the online teachers need to communicate, share and exchange their experiences with each other. Online teachers also need to have really good relations with the technical personnel who work on the platform and update them on the requirements that they felt was needed while teaching online, so that the technical team may continuously work on developing the platform to enhance the teaching and learning environment. It could be a good idea to include a member of the technical team as the course coordinator.
Online teaching has become a demand of modern times, and this demand will only keep growing. Teachers, who are not yet equipped enough for online teaching, should take steps to prepare for the future teaching revolution. As part of the preparation, teachers need to study not only on their respective teaching fields, but also on online teaching methods, the latest tools and technologies; because the related technology will only keep evolving. So will teaching and learning.The article was published in The Financial Express on August 19, 2014.
Publication Link: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/08/19/51111Khondker Mohammad Shah - Al - Mamun
Daffodil International University