A Word of Encouragement As You Begin Teaching Online

‘Tis strange — but true; for truth is always strange!

These are strange times indeed for those working in education but regardless of whether you are planning to deliver your upcoming lessons with Microsoft Teams, Moodle and Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom and Hangouts or Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams, here is some basic guidance for teaching staff at City and Islington College (as well as general tips for teachers outside CIC).

First off, don’t panic 🙂

There will be challenges for you and your students while you adjust to remote teaching and learning so do not be disheartened if your first session does not go to plan. Students and staff will need time to get used to online delivery, no matter how digitally savvy they may be. Be kind to yourself, take little steps and, you may even enjoy it!

You are not alone!

For technical issues with Microsoft, ProMonitor or College systems, please contact ICT.

For any issues with Moodle or Google Classroom, or any digital learning training and support needs, please contact the Digital Learning Team (please note the Digital Learning team can be contacted directly by students if they are experiencing issues). You can email us at: e-learning-enquiries@candi.ac.uk.

Support will still be in place at the College from 19th March 2020. We will regularly update our main support pages:

Student support page: https://fecollegeslondon.sharepoint.com/sites/candistudents/eLearning/SitePages/Remote-Learning.aspx

Staff support page: https://fecollegeslondon.sharepoint.com/sites/candistaff/teachingandlearning/SitePages/Remote-Teaching-and-Learning-Advice.aspx

For those on Twitter, we will be sharing lots of tips and resources to support you. You can follow us here: https://twitter.com/Candi_eLearning

Teaching effectively online – where do you start?

Teachers face the same challenges online as they do face to face. Promoting attendance, inclusion and retention will remain critical. The skills you have already in building trust and rapport, encouraging participation, differentiation, supporting progress and assessing learning are equally important online.

We are planning on providing a variety of resources and tips to teaching staff over the coming weeks to help you deliver effective teaching and learning online. These resources will be staggered so not to overwhelm you!

A simple checklist before you begin teaching online:

  1. Communicate what to expect, e.g. if you will be delivering your lessons purely with MS Teams, ensure they can access this application in the first instance. Make sure students know where to get support if they are having technical problems.
  2. If you are continuing to provide materials and activities in Moodle or Google Classroom, ensure the layout of the page is student-friendly, remove out of date material and provide meaningful labels to help students navigate. Consider the same for adding new material to any platform.
  3. Welcome students and set clear ground rules as you would face to face – start by being clear about acceptable behaviour. Consider creating a learning contract with your students to encourage a positive learning experience for everyone. State your expectations on punctuality and netiquette and return to this whenever you need to.
  4. Encourage peer support. Take the pressure off yourself by getting students to help and support each other online. Recognise and reward positive contribution and helpful behaviour!
  5. Ensure materials are in an accessible format e.g. PowerPoints may need to be converted to PDFs if students do not have access to Microsoft at home (although you can also use Microsoft online). If you are using Google, convert to Google format. If any of your students have visual impairments or other special requirements, ensure you provide material in an alternative accessible format should they need to use screenreaders etc.
  6. Ensure students know how to communicate with you and each other – will you use chat, discussions, online meetings or a combination. If you will allow private messaging, be aware of safeguarding issues.
  7. If you would like students to complete an activity in MS Teams, Moodle or Google Classroom before you meet them online, ensure you post an announcement with clear instructions on the relevant platform explaining this. Flipped learning can make your online meetings so much more rewarding as you can build on tasks when you meet!
  8. Design a simple activity to ensure students are present and ready to interact with you and each other. E.g. fun polls can break the ice. Give them other low-stake tasks to practise using tools you have not used before.
  9. Check on the quiet and inactive! If you notice students are missing from your first few online lessons or present but not contributing, contact them to see if they are having technical problems. If less confident students feel supported early on, they are less likely to drop out or give up.
  10. When setting tasks online, be as clear and as directive as you can. Tell students whether this is an individual task or a group task, where the task should be completed, how long it will take approximately, when the task needs to be completed by, how it should be submitted and when you will feedback. Don’t be afraid to use other online tools you have used before to check learning during, before or after online lessons e.g. Kahoot, Padlet or Socrative. Students may eventually become more independent and creative online and you can certainly encourage this but you will need to scaffold and support learning online initially.

To conclude, these are just some quick tips for getting started but are relevant whatever platform you use. For more practical advice on specific tools and platforms, keep an eye on the blog and our internal Digital Learning pages for advice!

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