Teaching & Learning from Home will present new opportunities and challenges for students and staff alike. While most of you and your teachers have had years of experience in the face-to-face classroom, few have had a similar breadth of the online educational experience.
Although you are working online your teacher is still providing direction for your course and you can expect that adequate guidelines and structure will be provided for you by the teacher.
Without sufficient guidance, there is potential for heightened levels of uncertainty. How will I understand the material if I never actually see my teacher? Where will I go for help if I’m confused?
A study of online learner expectations found that the top five issues for students were:
- having clear statements of learning expectations
- helpful feedback from teachers
- clear requirements for assessment
- a variety of communication opportunities with teachers (e.g. email, online chat, face-to-face, etc.)
- timely feedback from teachers.
Expectations around timeliness are important. The near-instantaneous delivery of email has conditioned people to expect almost immediate responses to any inquiry. Hence, many expect that because the teacher is only a mouse-click away, there should be immediate feedback and response to their questions. Your teacher will set clear parameters regarding communication and response time (for both you and themselves).
Often staff will contact you only within college hours (08.30-17.00 Monday to Friday). Individual teachers may choose to vary from this pattern for good reason but will make you aware when they are available (e.g. if using a chat facility) and if responding by email what period for responding to you i.e. 24 hours. Please note that these reasonable time parameters will also apply to you.
While your work may be collected differently with on-line learning and, you may find that feedback is delivered differently you will find teachers will keep to their usual time cycles for returning work.
With every learning or assessment task, you should receive full instructions on what you are expected to do. We had little time to fully prepare everyone once we learned of the college closure and if you were able to receive some training you may have missed this due to self-isolation or illness. If you are unsure, please contact your teacher and let them know of your concerns.
We all need to be flexible in this new way of learning but regardless of how and where we learn having a structure is helpful and will help you to become familiar with this new way of working. Try to establish a daily routine to support your learning.
A familiar trap for a student new to home working is not giving their work the amount of attention it needs. A classroom limits distractions. At home there are many. Try to turn off distractions. It's also smart to put your phone away, all it takes is one distracting text or tweet to derail half an hour of hard work. Be clear with others about your boundaries. Tell your family and friends when you’ll be focussing on work and when you are free.
How much contact should there be between you and your teacher each week? We are aiming for three instances per week which reflects your timetable when in college. Contact can take the form of you emailing your teacher, sending completed work for assessment, accessing a resource in Moodle or other online platforms, or contributing to a group chat or Teams session.
Some teachers will provide online learning experiences while their lesson would have started and finished if we were continuing with lessons in college. The longer we stay working from home these sessions will increase as there will be the need to introduce and explain new material. This material may take the form of power points that have an audio component, alternatively, other staff have experimented recording a key part of their lesson or you may have other sources where an explanation is available e.g. Microsoft Teams. On some occasions, the staff will inform you that they intend to record a session. The record is useful for students who were unable to attend the initial session, and for you as you may wish to watch it back again to re-enforce what you have learned.
Your participation may also need to allow for the equipment you have available at home and your internet connection. Please let your teacher know if there are issues with access.
You may also find that it is necessary to alter the order of delivery of your curriculum as some subjects require practical work and assessments to be completed which in most cases may not be possible until we can work on-site again.
Learning is the goal
Online learning is different in many ways than that experienced in traditional classrooms and while there are major differences, which need to be recognized and addressed for the process of learning to take place effectively, learning remains the purpose and goal of the experience.
Working from home exclusively is a major change for us all but one which we must tackle for the foreseeable future. We aim to make the experience of learning from home as effective as we can to help you to prepare for year 2 of your A level and BTEC courses. The key to this will be communication between yourself and your teacher.