Navigating Remote Learning Deliberations in the C-19 Crisis – Light-weight course design practice for worthwhile remote learning: Simple Tips

Published initially on 24-April-2020 on FB;

My mentor Dr. Graham Cheesman‘s blog ‘Theological Education After Corona Virus’ provides a good read for our reflections on the future. https://teachingtheology.org/…/theological-education-afte…/…
How to start off deliberations at the institutional level
• Realistic deliberations in the leadership level and among the faculty-staff teams and finalizing on the educational concept and the type of learning to explore/offer in response to the C-19 crisis. Refer for alternatives Emergency Remote Learning (ERL) and Online/Blended Learning- Shaiju Thomas https://www.facebook.com/groups/ATA.ACROSS/permalink/699162990624700/
• Agreement and conceptual clarity on the short-term and long-term plans in this direction, keeping in mind the probable second wave of Covid by around July and the implications this news may have on our schools
• A basic technical and technological help-base for faculty to interact with one another and explore expert advices and relevant resources, and, the funding requirements in this
• New/advanced/easy skills to do small video-clips or reading materials transferring
• Concrete planning and development for a full-fledged program by starting to establish an online resource base, media room, recording studio
• Specialized tailor-made faculty formation program to achieve this goal

SEVERAL PRACTICAL ELEMENTS TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT:

• A basic survey on students who have access to a computers/smartphone at workable internet speed
• An on-going communication line to keep them informed to the prospective onward momentum (e.g., from a large WhatsApp group form a class-by-class group, announcements on the institutional website)
• Training for faculty in managing light-weight authentic course designs with innovative assessment approaches as fitting for distant learners (with specific implications for social-distancing or the prospective dysfunctional motion in the community)
• Provide basic coaching to faculty, staff and students on how to download and use the social media applications such as E-mails, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger etc.
• Practical skills-formation in drafting a simple course outline with:
o Decide on the learning time rather than the time of student’s attendance in a fully residential program. E.g., if it is a 45 credit-hour course, we minimize the time of full-attendance to a student-oriented intensive learning for 12-15 hours. (more discussions needed in terms of accreditation requirements)
o Be innovative and selective of the courses to be offered in the remote learning while responding to a time of crisis

DESIGNING A LIGHT-WEIGHT COURSE FOR REMOTE LEARNING: BASICS

INTRODUCTION:

o An Introduction (both in a document & in a short 5-minute audio/video clip appropriate to the preference of majority of the learners
o Precise description of the name of the course, name of the faculty, term/semester and the name of the program e.g., M Div.
o The purpose of the course in not more than two/three specific, compelling points
o Learning outcomes (2-3) precisely mentioning what the learner will achieve at the end of the learning
o Description of the main content, preferably not more than 3 main sections. Should be simple, specific, clear for any learner to quickly grasp.
o Sub-sections to the three main sections: Mention them as in bullet points; an extensive list from a full-fledged conventional classroom learning will chase learners away in a remote learning setting; they will surely develop a feel of incapability and might seek to quit. While responding to a learning management need in crisis, limit the sub-sections to the highly useful and relevant insights.
o Make 5-10 pages of introductory reading on the subject, sending snapshots on WhatsApp is perhaps the easiest way, depending on the preferred method of communication by the millennials.
o If students and faculty can afford a Zoom call/Skype, they can virtually meet and have active interactions about the Introduction of the Course. It is a worthwhile practice to make a voice recording of the Zoom meeting to help those who are unable to attend.

MAIN CONTENT:

• Focus on the three main points
• Reduce the content of lecturing and share relevant pieces of written information to help them learn and reflect themselves. Avoiding too much direct interactions with students is important while facilitating Remote Learning
• Selection of the reading materials is of vital importance. Too many will not work, too complex may not help. Let them know exactly why & how the faculty want the learners to read the materials
• Plan to interact with the students via E-mails, WhatsApp voice/video sharing or by a Skype/Zoom call a couple of times orienting them to the core elements and foundational theories in the main sections. Do not overdo this.
• Sharing most relevant videos done by the faculty and/or links from online resources
• Making one of the above sessions more interactive for learners to take on a Q & A time will be great, preferably to be done in the latter half of the schedule for the main content.
• Develop and introduce one or two learning activities for the main sections. Learning activities design for remote education has to consider feasibility and usefulness typically from the perspective of the learner.

SUMMARY & ASSESSMENT

• A final time together can be again on a video/audio clip on WhatsApp or, if viable, on Skype etc. Summarize the main outcomes of learning, reiterate how this will help them in the developmental dimensions in life in the long run, and give an invite for any outstanding questions they may have. Keep all this to the minimum interaction and expectation
• A final quick assessment procedure is at the closing of the course learning. Obviously, faculty need to make a shift from their traditional 3-hour written examination. Think of a small-scale practical project affordable to the learners, or, a short reflective writing they will enjoy doing in relation to this particular course, or a time of direct audio/videocall for the faculty to directly undertake a verbal examination. Depending on the subject, faculty may even give the learners options in their own creative skills and ask them to produce something new, may be an artistic or artifact item, or an innovative audio clip, or a poetry or narration and so on. It can also be an open-book exam, short questionnaires etc. In any case, the approach must be short, stimulating and meaningful.

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