The Covid 19 pandemic has forced us, the teachers, to become digital teachers overnight. It has not been easy for us, coming from a type of school system where the use of the phones or of the computer tablets in the classrooms was completely forbidden. Nevertheless, we just had to adjust to the new requirements.
Some of the teachers started taking courses in how to use educational e-learning platforms (Moodle, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams etc), while others tried to continue education with communication systems they were more familiar with- like emails, Whatsapp of Facebook. Each teacher used the most familiar learning platform they could.
For the face-to-face communication and teaching, a teacher can use Google Meet, Zoom or even Facebook live. The visibility of the teacher in front of the students is necessary, in order to create the illusion of the teacher in front of the classroom. Communication can be made multiple ways on these platforms: teacher-students, students-teacher or even students-student. Also, communication can be oral or written, because on Google Meet and on Zoom we also have a chat section available.
Instead of presenting something to the students using a video-projector and a laptop in the classroom, a teacher can use the screen sharing or the present screen section of the e-learning platform, while teaching online. We, as teachers, have the possibility to present movies, music videos, photos, web pages etc. The range of choice is overwhelming! And if your classroom is not well equipped with the electronic technology, this period of online teaching has been a great opportunity to create more interactive lessons, online.
Doing exercises and correcting them, checking the homework have never been easier! The only difference is that the students could access the exercises online, from different educational sites, at the teacher’s choice. Or, if the teacher wants to, he or she can work with the exercises in the textbook, there is no problem! Especially since the textbooks are also available in a digital form, online.
Delivering tests online is also a possible task, but it might require more time to the teacher, for designing a test. You can make multiple choice tests or more elaborate tests to deliver to your students and it is also easier to correct them, especially if you are using Google Forms. The answers of the students are automatically registered in a spreadsheet or you you can set the correct answers from the beginning and the student will know the exact number of correct answers as soon as he/she has finished the test. If you are worried about your students’ cheating, you can randomise the questions in the test and you can set a time limit to it.
Group work or pair work can also be done online, if you work online. There are the so-called „breakout rooms” or the „activities” settings of the e-learning platforms, in which you can make groups of students and give them different tasks to work on. You, as a teacher, can supervise each group of students and help them if they need your advice.
The reading activities and the reading comprehension activities are also possible online, if you present the text to read on the screen and all the students can follow the text. You just name the student who is supposed to read the text aloud and you can correct the pronunciation or the reading mistakes as the student is reading the text.
There is also a clear advantage, while doing online teaching, for the listening activities. You can have the tasks presented on the screen, so that the students are aware, all the time, of the things that they have to identify in the audio material, while listening. Moreover, you can develop the students’ listening skills by working on videos and movies that are more attractive than just an audio material.
If you want to make your students collaborate just like in the classroom, at the blackboard, while brainstorming, you can use Google’s Jamboard function, which is just like a common board. The students can access it and add post it notes or draw on it or add images.
The projects are also possible to do and to present online. The students receive the task and they can work online, using online communication and document sharing (even on Whatsapp). When the project is ready, they can post it on Google Classroom or they can present it to their classmates, during the lesson, by using the „present your screen” feature.
Online teaching, if done professionally, can offer to the students and to the teacher all the opportunities that they have in the classroom. The only missing thing is the social interaction, which is more difficult to do online. But professionally speaking, you can do online all the things that you can do in the classroom – even more, if you do not have a smartboard or a video projector in the classroom.
It is my personal belief that, in the end, it all comes down to the interest of the teacher to use the online opportunities and, also, the interest of the student in his/her own education is essential. If the student is not interested in school in general, he/she will obviously say that online lessons are not efficient. Of course, my theory stands only if the teachers and the students have a strong internet connection and the appropriate means to connect online!