Before the COVID-19 outbreak, remote learning was never the norm. Traditional learning was predominately a group activity in a classroom where students could engage in experiments and discuss theories for new and exciting ideas.
It was easy to communicate with children because everyone was at the same place at the same time. Learning united us and made the experience enjoyable for all. All until the pandemic outbreak caused schools and universities to shut worldwide.
Since then, online learning has turned into an individual activity that most students are performing while isolated in their homes.
What used to be a joyful experience for instructors, of spending the day in front of a drawing board explaining topics to children and answering questions has now turned into a cumbersome, anxiety-inducing struggle to get everyone on the same page virtually.
As we move towards the online mode of learning, the human element must not be lost. At the current rate, we risk dehumanizing the entire learning process and losing out on a lot of what makes learning fun.
Here’s how educators must try and maintain the human element in remote learning.
Keep the big picture in mind
While conducting online classes, it’s easy to lose touch of the human element because everybody is interacting with each other through a computer screen.
Some may have difficulties with internet connections, outdated devices, or network coverage.
While everybody is learning to cope with the new changes to the way we learn and teach students around the world, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Education is essential to every child because it teaches us important life lessons during key formative years. If we keep this thought in mind, we’re more likely to approach online remote learning more effectively.
Though students and teachers are not present in front of each other, the human connection shouldn’t be lacking.
The internet has allowed people from all over the world to communicate with each other. This should be used to our advantage. If online remote learning didn’t exist, education might have had to be halted altogether.
Being present for the student, albeit through technology, can help maintain a human connection.
While students may be hundreds, if not thousands of miles apart, it’s better not to consider how distant they are. Rather, the positive mindset of understanding that everybody is online at the same place at the same time despite the circumstances is more empowering.
When we think of it this way, we’re more likely to approach online remote learning as a tool of empowerment to education rather than an unfortunate side effect of a worldwide pandemic.
The pandemic has been hard on everyone. In difficult times like these, the best thing to do is to be kind to each other. It may be difficult to understand the challenges that each individual is facing as a result of the outbreak and the lockdown.
Financial, emotional, and physical issues are all factors to take into account when communicating with students from wherever they may be. A little bit of care and empathy can go a long way to help students that are currently struggling to cope with the situation.
Students respond better when they feel cared for and understood. Educators that take the time to understand the needs of their students are more likely to be received positively than those that don’t.
By listening to students and taking note of their concerns and suggestions, it’s much easier to mould the remote learning process into one that is more streamlined and efficient for everybody involved.
It’s easy to get distracted during online classes. After all, there’s no authority figure to keep the attention of the entire classroom. Students can easily wander off into their imaginations, possibly at times dreaming of the days when they could come to school and meet their peers.
By incorporating interactive elements in the course modules, educators can make sure that students pay attention and learn effectively. Going the extra mile to make sure that everybody is on board and ready to learn can make a big difference.
Create an interactive learning environment
Interaction is the best way to maintain engagement during the online learning process. If you find that students appear to be getting distracted during classes, a great trick is to make sure it’s more interactive.
It is difficult to know if students are actually listening in a remote class. In a normal classroom, usually you could tell if they were paying attention or not. However, with online remote classes, it’s nearly impossible.
It’s not practical to have everybody talking at the same time either, so it’s a good practice to have students regularly speak up and voice their opinions during the course of the class, to avoid the entire session becoming a monotonous monologue.
Asking questions regularly, conducting quizzes and other games can help keep students engaged. A lot of online learning applications have features that enable learners to chat, share files, conduct polls etc.
Despite the pandemic separating students and changing the way that we teach all around the world, there are many things we can do to preserve the humanity of the learning experience.
Being more aware, empathetic, and having more interactive classes are all ways that we can maintain the human element in remote learning.
COVID-19 doesn’t have to be the end of education as we know it. Rather, it can be perceived as the start of a new era in learning. Today, even children who are paralyzed or ones who live in remote geographical locations can learn and attain qualifications online. This enables a greater number of people to avail of the upward social mobility that they can benefit greatly from.
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