blended success and classes realized

In the spring of 2020, the world of education plunged into distance education. Since then, the quality of online training could be expected to improve. However, while some teachers do less, others do less, at the expense of students.

It should be noted that although before COVID-19 this type of training underwent rapid and constant development, especially in higher education, most students and teachers remained surprised.

In the face of this extraordinary situation, the teaching staff tried their best, but with mixed results. Likewise, the students had to learn in an unusual context.

As specialists in distance education, we are interested in deploying this type of education and in supporting stakeholders. After more than a year, we have found that the quality of online training is still uneven.

crisis teaching

First, as we can read in the book Handbook of distance education for higher and university education, published in September 2020 by a group of education researchers: ‚ÄúPandemic teaching was not really distance learning. It was teaching in a crisis. “

Creating great courses in person and remotely requires time, training and coaching. And in addition to courses, the whole ecosystem of life and the support surrounding education is needed for students to survive and succeed. In fact, distance learning cannot be improvised.

Government revealed

Some institutions have required their professors to replace all scheduled classes with “synchronous” online classes, that is, classes offered to everyone at the same time, live, via video call.

When we know that the average duration of a person’s concentration or constant attention is about 15 minutes, we can understand that after 30 minutes, some students will pick up and close the camera. For students who take several courses this way, it’s like asking them to listen to a movie in a loop throughout the week!

In fact, it would be possible to keep students’ attention by changing the pace, gaining their participation and leading them to engaging in engaging educational activities. However, the script of an online course is often not as detailed as the script of a program or film; the teacher presents the content. It is therefore not surprising that the motivation and concentration of students in distance courses decreases, or that they prefer to listen to the recordings again at a time that suits them.

There is no ability to concentrate better in the classroom, but the teacher can use different strategies to keep their attention.
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There is no ability to concentrate better in the classroom – students browse social networks, consume or play online – but the teacher can use various strategies to keep their attention, such as changing volume or tone. and intervene to bring the student to order. It is much harder to act like this remotely.



Read more: Distance learning: a source of learning renewal?


Create an event

what to do then We can first ask ourselves whether the course needs to include the same number of synchronous sessions as if it were offered in person.

For example, we can use one of the strengths of this type of distance learning to interact, ask questions, and provide immediate feedback to students. On the other hand, you can take advantage of “asynchronous” training with reading or watching videos. The student can learn at their own pace and find time for in-depth reflection.

In other words, we must ensure that meetings are events that cannot be missed, and not just insist that these meetings teach students. In addition, these meetings need to be written and prepared as your favorite TV shows may be.

Feeling of presence, great absence

A study by two professors at the University of Aix-Marseille showed that 61.2% of students felt that distance learning reduced exchanges between them, and almost 70% of students said that they communicated much less with their teachers.

The student, cited last fall in a Radio-Canada report, said that of her five courses, two were provided exclusively from PDF documents without any interaction with her teachers. “It seems to me an expensive $ 1800 for PDF lessons,” she said.

These remarks clearly illustrate students’ sense of isolation, recognizing that supervision and support are fundamental dimensions of distance learning.

This supervision must be proactive and reactive in order to create a sense of presence nurtured by the teacher as well as by other students. It must promote greater closeness among all.

Supervising students is not just answering e-mails, but also planning interventions to support motivation, encourage interaction through questions, and reduce anxiety during assessment throughout the course. Not taking the time to consider this aspect in a distance course means falling into one of the main pitfalls of personally transferring the course at a distance.

No more cheating

Several educators believe that plagiarism and fraud are more common at a distance than in the classroom. Recent studies on this topic, however, show that this is not the case. In fact, there would be so many, if not less, of the proposed assessments adapting to distance learning. If the number of pandemic cases seems to have increased, this is probably also due to attempts at “simple” remote transposition of attendance assessments (exams, oral presentations) without trying to tackle plagiarism and fraud.

Designing assessments in a distance learning course is a great opportunity for innovation. It is possible to use digital tools and allow students to demonstrate their skills, know-how and skills in a context of reflection, discussion, analysis and judgment. Thus, it is possible to implement richer and more complete assessment contexts than simply limiting to multiple-choice or essay questions.



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In fact, remote evaluations can be segmented and easier to focus on delivery processes instead of results. Distance education makes it possible to go further in the evaluation of education without increasing the burden of corrections, while at the source it reduces opportunities for cheating and plagiarism.

Solutions to known pitfalls

Fortunately, there are known ways to avoid the pitfalls associated with distance education. Teachers must be trained and supported. They must also be given time to design a distance learning course. In addition to the friendliness of teachers and students, this would make it possible to design more durable and high-quality teaching materials.

More effective techno-pedagogical tools would allow teachers to go further than traditional presentation-based pedagogy. Distance education, whether synchronous or asynchronous, has known advantages, provided that it is well used to benefit teachers and especially students.

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