Yes, IF the right tools are used in tandem with the appropriate strategies. As the saying goes, it’s not the bow or arrow, it’s the archer. Hopefully, the rest of this guide can help you on your way to becoming a better “archer”.
In effectively managing a virtual environment, we do recommend the use of artificial intelligence and automation tools to make life easier for you. But the virtual presence of a teacher becomes more necessary and potent in effect as the rate of face-to-face contact with learners is reduced. It is in our opinion, therefore, that robots will not and cannot replace your wisdom, your sense of humor, or your creativity – all of which are especially valuable in distance learning. You will, however, need to learn how to maximize the technology tools at your disposal to become effective online teachers.
Neither is better than the other, as both are useful and recommended, depending on the nature of the activity.
Asynchronous learning refers to self-paced learning at the time convenient for the learner. You, the instructor, do not have to be online all the time because you have uploaded learning materials and created activities that your students can consume and complete at their own pace within a given time frame. This mode is ideal for pushing content, drills, personal reflections, insights sharing, and for the completion of many other challenging or thought-provoking activities. A purely asynchronous course delivery could lead students to feel unguided and unmotivated.
Synchronous learning, on the other hand, refers to meeting online with your students at an agreed upon time and environment, either via chat, call, or video conferencing. This is ideal for consultations, quick discussions, clarifications, as well as for touching base with your students. Regular synchronous sessions are necessary to maintain deeper and more personal connections with your students. Although, when done too often, this can be quite stressful not only for yourself, but for your learners as well.
Aim to strike a good balance between the two in designing your course instruction.
Your students may be classified in some references as digital natives, but that does not mean that they are exempt from anxieties and doubts for online learning as well. If you’re adjusting, they are, too. And in many cases, it’s more difficult for them to adjust than for you because they have been conditioned to learn under close monitoring until now. They may also be less motivated than you are to quickly adjust to online learning. Some could feel like they learn better when in a group than alone. Some may also be struggling with things that we cannot observe. Whatever the case may be, we need to be sensitive to our learners’ needs, and adjust our methods of instruction – from the delivery of content and assessment, to our methods of engagement and feedback – to help our students learn better in a new environment.
“I can complete basic computer operations including creating and manipulating documents, managing files and folders, and working with multiple windows.”
“I can log into BigSky and access the class.”
“I can navigate the course space in BigSky to locate critical class elements such as the syllabus, lessons, gradebook, class list, and other features.”
“I can set up the class gradebook and manage student grades in BigSky, such as set grading weights, use points/percentages, and submit final grades.”
“I can use course communication systems in BigSky Benilde such as email, pager, chat, web conferencing, discussion forums, or news.”
“I can manage the course users in BigSky to set up and manage pair/group work areas to reflect their in dropbox, discussions, and grades.”
“I can create and manage course files and modules within BIgSky Benilde.”
“I can manage student submissions in BigSky using tools such as a dropbox and activity feed.”
“I can create and manage course files and modules within BIgSky Benilde.”
“I can attend to the unique challenges of distance learning where learners are separated by time and geographic proximity, and interactions are primarily asynchronous in nature.”syllabus and, throughout the course, demonstrate sensitivity to disabilities and diversities, including aspects of cultural, cognitive, emotional, and physical differences.”
“I am familiar with the unique learning needs and situations of both traditional age and adult learners, providing an educational experience that is appropriate for both.”
“I can provide a program-accepted statement of accessibility in the course
“I can achieve mastery of the teaching and learning environment by becoming familiar with all course materials, as well as the structure and organization of the course environment.”
“I can respond to student inquiries within 12-24 hours to guide students towards a positive learning outcome.”
“I can provide detailed feedback on assignments and exams through facilitation, guidance, directed learning, and progress assessment.”
“I can communicate as needed with students about course progress and changes via email, course announcements, etc.”
“I can promote and encourage a safe, inviting, and mutually respectful learning environment by communicating with students in a positive tone and by following and promoting Netiquette guidelines.”
“I can continuously monitor and manage student progress by using course statistics or reports to identify students who are not accessing course materials, participating in learning activities, etc., and reach out to encourage engagement.”
“I can communicate course goals and outcomes using the syllabus and course announcements at the beginning of the course.”
“I can establish my presence in the course on a regular basis via course announcements, assignments, emails, online office hours, and various other methods.”
“I can provide a program-accepted statement of accessibility in the course syllabus and, throughout the course, demonstrate sensitivity to disabilities and diversities, including aspects of cultural, cognitive, emotional, and physical differences.”
“I actively participate in the course through a variety of communication tools.”
“I communicate to students when assignments and exams will be graded and returned per assignment/quiz/exam.”
“I can provide a comprehensive syllabus that adheres to my institution’s policies. The syllabus includes a course examination policy, a basis for grades, an academic integrity policy, and a disability access statement.”
“I can mediate course-related student conflicts in accordance with Benilde’s policies.”
“I can adhere to the institutional policies regarding the Data Privacy Law of 2012.”
“As needed, I can revise course content and instructional materials based on student feedback.”
“I can obtain assistance and support for either myself or my students at the appropriate time.”
“I can communicate my expectations about student behavior in my course (i.e., netiquette).”
“I can communicate and monitor compliance regarding institutional academic integrity policies.”
“I can securely report grades to students in BigSky and input final grades into the College’s Student Information System (SIS) as required.”
“I can notify students through a variety of communication tools when I am unavailable to participate in course-related activities.”
You don’t have to always just type your comments to student works. You can audio record your responses, or even upload a video feedback if you want. Facial expressions and tone of voice, after all, add a valuable dimension to your input that students will definitely look forward to. This way, you can have a more personal engagement with your students as they work on improving their work throughout the course.
The beauty of Discussions is that everyone can learn from everybody else. Require your students to comment on at least two or three other students’ works, and provide a feedback structure for them to follow like the one in this example below:
1. Describe your personal understanding of what Educational Technology is in 3-5 sentences.
2. Comment on at least two of your peers’ posts using the following format:
A. What I like about your insight is _____ because _____.
B. I think it would have been better if _____ because _____.
C. Your output made me realize that _____ because _____.
Putting a structure to peer commenting will elicit more meaningful peer feedback than the usual “good job,” which can be quite useless to learners who are looking for genuinely helpful feedback.
Release activities early on in the week and allow your students a couple of days to comply with your requirements. Stick to your deadlines, but keep your discussion forum open for longer so students can still go in, learn from the collective feedback, or even continue discussions with their peers.
The Quiz tool is usually used for summative assessments like midterms or finals, but consider using it for some formative exercises as well. Create simple, short quizzes that students can take to “self-check” their grasp of a certain concept they have just learned. Adjust the settings in your quiz so that students can see the right answers from the wrong immediately after the attempt, and set zero to minimal grade weights to the activity.
If you’re working to improve proficiency, you can use the Quiz tool to create drills and exercises that are meant to be taken over and over again for extra practice. Give several attempts and adjust to shorter but still reasonable time limits for completion.
If you already have a pool of quiz questions to work with – say 50 to 100 questions – you can set your BigSky quiz to randomly pull ten or twenty questions at a time, and each student attempt will have a unique mix and order of questions to be answered. This not only helps to discourage cheating, but it also helps to test if your students really have a good grasp of the con—–
Just make sure that the pool of questions you are randomizing from are all on the same topic and of the same levels of difficulty.
Like in Concept Self-Checks, you can adjust the settings to reveal the right and wrong answers after the quiz has closed to give your students a chance to use the quiz as a review material.
If you have students who will not be able to take the quiz at the same time as the rest of the class, and you still want to give them the quiz, you don’t have to create a new quiz just for them. Simple go to the Restrictions tab of your Quiz Settings and give them a different date and time of access. None of your other students will know or be affected by the quiz, and your special access setting will help ensure that your quiz’s integrity has not been compromised.