Virtual teaching: technology should not take over learning

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020, several distance learning methods have been implemented in the country. The two main modes that have emerged are synchronous virtual teaching (live, on screen) and asynchronous virtual teaching (the teacher records his lesson in advance and can watch it at any time, or so it gives activities and homework to do at home. do through a learning platform).

Teachers therefore had to revise their teaching methods and adapt to online teaching within a few days. l’Education Endowment Foundationa foundation funded by the UK Department of Education, has synthesized meta-analyses (synthesis of experimental research) to formulate educational recommendations to guide distance learning.

They basically say that the methods that are effective in face-to-face mode should be converted to virtual mode. And that the teacher should not be overwhelmed by technology.

We are a group of researchers in school education, particularly interested in literacy, academic and social adaptation and the dynamics of teaching-learning. Why take an interest in this topic when the pandemic subsides and the students are in school? Because we believe it is important to take stock of the past two years and document it for the future.

Manage your class

During synchronous virtual teaching, it is very easy to lose control of the classroom if there is no effective behavior management, just like in face-to-face mode. It is therefore important to identify the expected behavior (turn off your microphone, raise your virtual hand to take a turn, do not interrupt the floor) and show exactly what is expected of students, what in the jargon is “modelling”. is called. †

The students then practice the desired behavior under the guidance of the teacher, who provides feedback. Inappropriate behavior that jeopardizes teaching and learning cannot be tolerated, but some can be illustrated by the teacher with humor and counterexamples to prevent them from happening. When the expected behavior is adopted by the students and the virtual classroom management works well, content education becomes possible.

Since March 2020, teachers have had to review their teaching methods.
(Isabelle Carignan)Provided by the author

In the context of online education, modeling may take longer. It is not always possible to see what students are writing, so it is important to ask questions to understand how they work and to monitor their learning. Therefore, it is advisable to explain and explain again.

An inadequate platform

Google Classroom is one of the free learning platforms that schools use to create activities digitally. This platform is interesting for integrating educational materials, but not necessarily for real-time synchronous teaching. Too often class time is spent on logistics, which is a waste of class time.

For example, parents we interviewed as part of a study on virtual and face-to-face education during a pandemic, which we conducted, told a researcher that a teacher used three 55-minute periods to explain to 2-year-old children. .and first year how to get a document on the class† When a parent suggested projecting the document on the screen in presentation mode, instead of each student having their own document on their computer, his response was: “I want the children to learn how to copy the documents from my class

But what lessons have been learned here? New ! At this age, students don’t necessarily know how to navigate the different platforms. Also, the teacher does not know which tabs are open on the students’ computers and each teacher has their own way of using the platform. In addition, the use of Google Classroom is far from intuitive for students and parents.

Back to basic

Just because we teach online doesn’t mean we should use technology at all costs. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes less. Screen share a video from just dancing on YouTube for a physical education lesson, it is relevant. Children move and have fun dancing to various songs.

Otherwise, an easy way to maintain — or regain — control is to use an erasable whiteboard, paper workbooks, or printable sheets. Paper and pencil activities work well with students, parents and teachers. The students already know their activity booklet and will not experience any technical problems.

It’s much easier to tell students to take their notebook 1, 2, 3… with Nougat in math than to tell them they go to Google Classroom to find an XYZ document in a subsection of another subsection where several options are displayed to open it. It’s also easier — and much less stressful — for parents to answer their kids’ questions through a paper activity book. They then feel more competent and confident to help their children in their learning process. The documents on Google Classroom (which is basically empty because the teacher builds the platform according to his plan) or another learning platform like Zorbit in math or boukilic when reading, are rather helpful for doing homework or reviewing the topic seen at school during the day.

When students attend the synchronous virtual school, the class time is too valuable to be spent learning from a platform. The priority remains teaching and learning.

Learning about any web platform should have happened in the classroom with the students in person, so that the teacher could be sure of their understanding, before the virtual teaching takes place. We must avoid at all costs making the use of technologies more complex in order to minimize time wastage and maximize learning-learning opportunities. To achieve this, using simple resources can facilitate the implementation of more effective education that children so desperately need! Why make it complicated when it can be simple?

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