The Challenges of Online Teaching

online-teachingAfter 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.

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