One positive benefit of emergency online teaching has been that many teachers learned how to use technology in authentic ways by experimenting in a relatively low-risk environment. Despite learning new skills, and their comfort using technology as part of face-to-face teaching, the teachers I talked to still need far more preparation to teach online. As one observed, “Teaching face-to-face with technology is one thing; teaching through technology is a whole different ball game.”
In addition to using online technologies (for example, learning management systems or web conferencing applications), and selecting appropriate web-based technologies to enhance student learning, teachers need more support in learning how to manage learners remotely and in live sessions. They also need training in online assessment techniques and ways to communicate and facilitate online learning, particularly with students who are most vulnerable.
To teach well online, teachers will need to develop a repertoire of online pedagogies that involve a mix of:
- Direct instruction: transmitting information about concepts, skills, and procedures via demonstrations, lectures, screencasts, videos, or online presentations.
- Cognitive models of learning: structured activities that don’t just put information in students’ heads but get knowledge out—inductive reasoning, open-ended questioning, experiments, metacognitive strategies, and problem-solving.
- Social models of learning: collaborative instructional methods we can still use in online learning—jigsaw approaches, reciprocal teaching, discussions, debates, and peer tutoring.
Above all, teachers will need guidance and strategies for establishing a sense of emotional, cognitive, and instructional presence so students feel connected and part of an online community of learners.