The Challenges of Online Teaching

After a semester of online teaching, teachers can now be asked which one they would prefer when classes resume after the summer break – to teach online or face-to-face.

Answers may vary depending on what kind of experiences teachers had during the recently-concluded spring semester or how seriously they carried out their pedagogical functions when their respective schools decided to deliver learning through the online platform.

Having gone through what I have experienced during the spring semester, I have much to say about online teaching. I could sum them up in one word – challenging. If I want to I could also say which one I would prefer when the fall semester begins –  online  or face-to-face teaching? But I wouldn’t for  it won’t matter. Why? Because whether  schools would still do online teaching or go back to the classrooms for traditional classes is not contingent upon which one the teachers (or even the students and school officials) prefer but what their  government leaders would tell the academic community to do based on the status of the current pandemic.

So, if the marching order is for me to teach online, I should follow – the way a good soldier would. The question to ask therefore should not be whether the teachers prefer to teach online or in the classrooms. The “essential” question is whether or not they are ready should the situation next semester warrants  that for the safety and well-being of everybody, most especially the students, they should teach online again.

When the current school year started, many teachers were probably caught by surprise when out of the blue their schools announced that classes would  be held online. Nobody saw the coronavirus coming. By the time COVID-19 started spreading in different parts of the world, schools already had plans laid out for this school year. Such plans were changed factoring the effects of what eventually became a pandemic.

The academe was left with not choice but to switch to remote learning.

Now, let’s answer the following question: Did the teachers really have only a few weeks to prepare for online teaching?

I don’t think so!

They had all the time in the past.

In one of my previous essays about online teaching, I asserted the following:

“With or without COVID-19, the ability to use technology in  the classroom – to apply all available technology resources to education – is something that teachers should have trained themselves to do a long time ago. The use of technology has become an integral part of being a 21st century teacher. There’s no way out of it. Schools should have made it a basic requirement for the teachers they hired. The abilities to create, evaluate, and effectively utilize information, media, and technology are  required 21st century skills. Teachers are expected to possess them.”

Take it from HG Wells – “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” The landscape of education is very dynamic, it keeps changing. Most of the changes are driven by advances in communication and information technology. Teachers will be doing their profession a disservice should they not adapt. 

Based on what I have personally experienced, online teaching is very challenging. I actually consider it more difficult than teaching in the classroom.

Remember that online teaching will test not only the extent of your accumulated knowledge and skills in communication and information technology but also how you incorporate such knowledge and skills in pedagogy, in the major activities that teachers do – planning, instruction and assessment.

Online teaching is not only a matter of learning how to use video conferencing applications. Video conferencing is only the tip of the iceberg called online teaching. As I emphasized in another essay –  “Online or otherwise, when you are a teacher, you should teach. You ought to find a way to achieve the objectives of the course/s you are teaching, cover the topics enumerated in the syllabus, motivate your students, discuss the lessons, give assignments, and evaluate learning.  It will definitely test the limits of your creativity, resourcefulness, and patience.

About M.A.D. LIGAYA

Teacher-Writer M, A, and D are the initials of my two first names (Massuline and Antonio) and my mother's family name (Dupaya). Ligaya (a Filipino word which means happiness in English) is my family name. MAD is actually one of my nicknames aside from Tony and Ching. My full name is Massuline Antonio Dupaya Ligaya. Many times I was asked the question "Why do you write?" I don't write for material rewards nor adulation. When I write poems, stories, and essays, when I do research, seeing them completed gives me immense joy and satisfaction. I don't write for cash incentives, "likes," and "praises." I would be thankful should I get those but the happiness and sense of fulfillment I feel when completing my works are my real rewards. Is teaching difficult? No! When I teach, I don't work but I play. My educational philosophy - "The classroom is my playground, the students are my playmates, and the subject is our toy." Proud to be me! Proud to be a FILIPINO! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Posted on July 10, 2020, in Online Teaching. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I am not sure if it applies to all, but the school our kids is on I feel is not readying themselves up thus might their teachers too. Umaasa pa rin siguro na mag-oopen ang school so that they can charge more to parents. Geez.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are two major questions schools need to answer when it comes to online teaching – “Do they have the communication and information technology infrastructure to support the delivery of online teaching?” and “Are their manpower (teachers and technical support) equipped and trained to deliver online teaching?”

      Sana “YES” ang sagot sa mga tanong na iyan.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a question for those entering the new era of education, for we believe even after the current “crisis” in over, online teaching will be part of schools, perhaps as a form for students and parents to review lessons previously taught. What kind of education will the students receive? Most teachers, and certainly good ones, know that teaching is a challenging career, but one well-worth the time if young people are prepared for the future, teaching them to venture forth without fear, but with energy, preparations, and joy for opportunities. Will teachers be able to interact with their students? Will they be able to think outside the box? Will they be able to supplement lessons and create innovative projects? And as each day passes, with thousands, even millions of words being spoken, will they feel comfortable knowing every parent, every adult, every administrator, every agency, will forever have access to every word spoken for it will forever be in computer land. And knowing this, as the years pass and some teachers are fired for something they said once, years ago, how will other teachers feel about the profession and their ability to be a positive example in young people’s lives. Or are we all going to experience a sterile environment, realizing every word spoken will be scrutinized, up for debate, and many will have to go to education camps if they want to keep their jobs. What will the future look like?

    Like

    • There are limitations to online teaching. Student participation is one area that suffers much. It will be very difficult for students to participate in ways they do during face-to-face classes. Somehow the development of their creativity and critical thinking might be affected. Even assessment is also affected. The validity and reliability of tests might be compromised in one way or another, when administered online. Laboratory subjects (and other subjects that involves experimentation) are the main concern. In the said subjects teachers should be with the students actually guiding the latter in all the activities. But when situation calls that education leaders have to choose between quality of education and safety of students, of course you know which one they would choose.

      So, education leaders might want to revisit “authentic learning” and “authentic assessment” should they decide to stick with online learning moving forward. You may google those topics in case you’re interested.

      Teachers should not be paralyzed by paranoia fearing that whatever they say during online classes might be recorded and may one day be taken against them and might cause them their jobs. For as long as the teachers know that whatever they do during online classes and say in the process are not inimical to the interest of the students and do not violate any ethical standards and laws of their country then there’s nothing to fear.

      Like

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