Busting myths about online teaching

Jul 29, 2021

Earlier in 2021, Xepto Education hosted the High-impact Online Teaching webinar, which was attended by hundreds of teachers, trainers, and academic experts in the Philippines. We invited renowned instructors and early adopters of online education to share with us their insights and learnings about the new academic environment necessitated by the global health crisis. Our goal was to have a mindshare among educators and use each other’s learnings as input, as blended learning becomes the new normal.

Kim Randall, a Global Technology Consultant of the Krause Center for Innovation in California, was one of our guests. She provides training around the effective use and pedagogy of educational technologies in the classroom. These are our key takeaways from her session.

A year into blended learning, we learned about these myths first-hand, and perhaps the hard way. Some educators thought it was going to be easier because the technology is there. Plus, we get to spend less time in traffic. Others simply reject the idea that students can absorb lessons in a non-physical environment, where the teacher cannot see their body language or answer their questions in real-time. One thing we all agree on: it’s different from what we’re used to, but it’s safer for now, and we will make it work.

For incoming teachers (and for the rest of us who need a reminder), here are some myths about online teaching that we busted this past year.

#1 Teaching online courses gives you more free time

Not having to brave the traffic going to and from school certainly gave us back a couple of hours, at least, of our days. We could just roll out of bed and into our Zoom cameras… right?

It turned out that there was a lot more preparation time involved to make sure students get the most out of an online course or class. We carefully curated materials, produced our own video lectures, and crafted new activities that they could interact with digitally. We checked on them individually to assess how they are doing. We ourselves became students exploring new apps and tools that we could use. 

In the end, we ended up working about the same number of hours as before. Maybe more in the beginning, as we got used to a new setup. 

#2 Students will know how to use your program/software

It’s easy for us to assume that our digital native students will know how to use all the new apps and tools on which we are serving our lessons. While we share the belief that kids nowadays were born with a device in their hands, it is still important to take the time to guide them on how we intended the class to use a certain software. 

#3 Your teaching style can stay the same as in-person teaching

The fun, animated teacher style in front of the classroom does not necessarily translate into the same level of engagement during asynchronous and even synchronous online classes. Many of us have experienced our quips and jokes falling flat because of intermittent internet connection. In recorded lectures, we talk to a camera, and it’s just not the same as having audience feedback in real-time. Thus, we work around these limitations. Instead of a teaching style, we will have to design and produce a course as if it were a show that runs for an entire school year. 

#4 Every online lesson will be the same and will have little variety

The wonderful thing about these digital instruction platforms is that we can go beyond the 2D space of traditional blackboards. We can show videos and animations. We can put links that students can follow according to their level of interest. We can embed activities that students can interact with using their devices. Online lessons these days are certainly more than just watching videos or passively attending a Zoom class.

#5 Online lessons aren’t any fun. Therefore, the teacher isn’t fun.

If there’s one myth that we should bust, this is it! Of course we can have fun outside of the physical classroom! It’s all about designing activities that will allow the students to get to know their teachers on a personal level, such as via an introductory letter or video. Group games and puzzles can be designed to leverage the fact that we are online and have the entire world to include in the activity. These allow the students to engage with each other as well.

#6 Students in an online course do not learn as much as students in a face-to-face course

Students can definitely thrive in an online space as much as in a physical classroom. There is a benefit to being able to study at one’s own pace, at a time when a student is most focused and without the distractions of being surrounded by 30 other learners. There is discipline being learned when a student has to independently understand a concept, a discipline that they can put into practice in other aspects of their lives. As teachers, it is our responsibility to design an environment that will empower our students to learn by themselves.

What are some online teaching myths you busted in the past year? Do you have questions about the points we discussed in this blog post? Share with us at hello@xeptoeducation.com

Next time, we will write about tips and tricks to better engage students in an online classroom.

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