Wishing Classes Would Still Be Online
For the next semester, I would still prefer that classes are held online instead of face-to-face. Why?
Not because online classes result in better learning. There is no conclusive evidence as to which of the two is more efficient when it comes to delivering education. Research findings of comparative studies made between online and face-to-face classes are inconclusive with some saying one benefits students better than the other while others claim that there’s no significant difference at all on their effects on learning.
Not also because online classes are more convenient for teachers. On the contrary, I consider teaching online more challenging than the traditional method. I am a teacher and whether online or otherwise it is my obligation to perform the following: set objectives and ensure that they are achieved; cover each topic enumerated in the syllabus; motivate students and elicit their participation; give assignments, check them, and show the students the results; and assess and measure learning.
Doing anything less than the foregoing, either in the traditional classroom or in the virtual set-up, is short-changing the students. It’s a disservice to the teaching profession. But doing them all online is easier said than done. Performing those pedagogical functions online tested to the hilt my creativity and resourcefulness. I had to dig deeper into my bag of tricks. My patience was truly tested.
The truth is I really want to go back to the classroom to teach. But why do I wish we could have our classes still online next semester?
Simple – the coronavirus is still like Damocles sword hanging over our heads. You’ll never know when it would drop and deliver a deadly infection. In short, it’s still risky to hold face-to-face classes especially with the current Covid-19 variants proving to be more transmissible and with full vaccination still yet to be achieved.
So, should classes be held online again next semester, I don’t mind having my creativity and resourcefulness getting tested further if that would mean ensuring that all stakeholders in the academe, especially the students, are safe and sound.
In preparation for the possibility of virtual learning again for the autumn semester, I have replenished my bag with new tricks over the summer and I think my patience would no longer be tested. In the past three semesters, I have gained the needed experience and insights about online teaching and learning that I think there’s nothing more that would surprise me.
By now, I am aware of the behavior of students when attending classes virtually. I know how to deal with them. I know what to expect from the students and what not to.
Additionally, through self-study and the generosity of a techie friend, I came to learn what I needed to learn, technology-wise, to make my first venture into online teaching easier. I don’t mean that I embraced the use of technology for teaching for the first time during the pandemic. Ever since I have been trying to learn as best as I could how to apply information and communication technologies in my classes. But when the university (where I am currently teaching now) switched to virtual learning, they provided platforms (Cisco Webex and the university’s E-class) for online teaching which I was unfamiliar with then. That I had to learn. And I did.
During the spring semester last year (2020), the time online classes in our university started, the biggest challenge I faced was the marking/grading of assignments, projects, quizzes, and tests and ensure the reliability and validity of the results. I overcame that dilemma by learning to use the Google form together with an app that allows the setting of time limits. The setting of time limits is necessary in order to avoid cheating in any form. And to avoid the possibility of cheating, I targeted higher-order thinking skills (evaluating, analyzing, and creating) in my tests and other graded activities. It may not be 100% foolproof, thus, at the beginning of the semester, I always explain to my students the importance of intellectual honesty.
I also used the Google drive folder to create an electronic portfolio for each of my students. In their individual Google drive folders is where they upload their assignments and course requirements. That is also where I give them feedback and show them the results of tests and other graded activities.
I think I am now more equipped to do online teaching. So, if ever our university decides to not conduct face-to-face classes yet, I am ready.
Posted on August 22, 2021, in Effects of the Pandemic to Education, Online Teaching, Teaching During the Pandemic and tagged Effects of the Pandemic to Education, Online Teaching, Teaching During the Pandemic. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.