Remote learning stemmed from the requirements arising from sudden or unexpected events, like snowstorms, scheduled absences, or any other emergency situation rendering students and teachers unable to come for the regular classes.
Mostly confused with online teaching, remote teaching essentially moves the educational content to an online space and there are little or no discussion boards, group work, assessments, etc.
Online teaching, on the other hand, comprises interactive modules and assessments based on real-life scenarios and discussion forums for discussing and solving problems. The lectures are not recorded and the sessions are synchronous and involve problem discussion and resolution.
Hence, there is a subtle and significant difference between both the terms, despite them being used interchangeably by people these days.
Recent studies predict exponential growth in the global e-learning market and the market valuation to sit above 370 bn USD by 2026.
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has a major role in driving this growth, remote learning has been there prior to the pandemic as well.
However, remote teaching comes with a lot of challenges that not only affect the quality of teaching, but also the overall experience for both – the educators and the students.
What Are the Common Challenges Faced During Remote Teaching?
The following image shows various challenges experienced by students during remote teaching:
1. Isolated Learning Comes Without the Perks of Peer-Learning
In remote teaching, the students study away from the regular classroom environment. This isolated setting comes without the perks and advantages of learning in a classroom, such as a peer competition, mutual motivation, and learning by the example of the other students. Many times, the average students take instantaneous help from the other students present in the class, instead of interrupting the lecturer.
Peer-to-peer learning has many advantages, such as enabling knowledge sharing among the students in a comfortable setting. Also, obtaining knowledge from a peer is much less intimidating as compared to the teacher and comes without inhibitions or a general feeling of embarrassment, which average students have.
While seeking help from a classmate, the students exhibit an unmistakable willingness to learn from their mistakes that improves the overall learning experience in the collaborative setting.
2. Lack of Motivation
Limited human contact, muted body language, and an overall lack of authority and presence in the remote teaching amount to a lack of motivation among the students. Their main aim becomes just sitting through the lecture and completing the session with as little participation as possible, especially if they are weak in their studies.
Further, every student has different learning and understanding abilities and might find the restrictive remote teaching to be less engaging and mundane. This, in turn, also affects their urge to learn and participate actively in the classes.
3. Lack of the Right Software Solutions
Not every academic institution has the budget, resources, and technical talent to use smart and engaging Learning Management Systems and solutions to enhance the quality of remote teaching. Further, once the teachers have covered a topic in class, the testing process is also mundane in remote teaching.
It is extremely easy for the students to cheat or cite network issues for not turning the camera on and making someone else take the test.
Further, the teachers are not able to make the evaluation process fair, engaging, and relevant to every student in the class.
While there are many innovative and smart EdTech tools, such as the PrepAI question generator that help you create impeccable tests within minutes, the overall availability and use of such advanced learning solutions are still very low.
Even if the teachers have access to some kind of learning management tools, the lack of expertise in using the same and choosing improper software makes the learning experience poor and less rewarding.
4. Poor Training Content For Interactive Courses
A physical classroom is a teacher-led learning environment where they can train or teach the students in multiple different ways. They can also judge from the facial expressions of the students if they are understanding a tough concept properly or not. If required, they can show live demonstrations and reinforce students’ understanding of the “visual” element.
Now, you might think – “Teacher can show the demonstration videos in the remote classes”, and you are not wrong!
However, there are many interactive courses and topics, such as lab experiments, interactive activities, controlled environment demonstrations, etc. that are best taught in physical classes.
Let us try to understand this with the help of an example.
Suppose Taylor is a student of 10th grade and his teacher showed him a video of projectile motion. The teacher also showed an experiment video demonstrating the various projectile motion instances.
However, without actually doing the experiment, Taylor was still a bit fuzzy about his understanding of the concept. Things complicated further when his teacher showed them a demonstration of energy conservation via a pendulum.
It was just as if Taylor was watching a movie!
While recorded videos, demonstrations and even personally done lab experiments work well in some cases, when it comes to “training” the human mind, the lack of proper sensory input in the remote classes fails to produce desired results.
5. Technical Challenges
Remote teaching relies on the basic hardware and software infrastructure, such as computers, smart devices, decent internet connection, etc. Now, all the students might not have the required infrastructure with the same quality. This can affect the overall learning experience and can spur a feeling of discord and low morale among the students.
Further, the incidents such as power failures and internet outages can deteriorate the entire day’s learning, leaving students with no way to compensate for the absence from the class.
Also, there have been cases where the teachers were not able to use the teaching or meeting software properly, which affects the overall learning quality.
Teachers don’t know how to position the camera, how to highlight the content, or how to properly use the online collaboration software to facilitate an engaging online learning experience.
6. Online Learning Activities
Learning activities form a crucial part of education, and remote teaching limits the type and number of such activities.
There are many reasons behind the same, such as:
- Financial abilities of the students to avail the activity materials
- The time constraint of the remote teaching session
- Inability to assist the students physically
- Inability to demonstrate things with utmost clarity
- Lack of the tangible, sensory, and audio-visual inputs from the teacher
The type and number of learning activities that a teacher can conduct in an online setting vary greatly from a regular classroom. Also, the success of such activities depends entirely on the abilities and learning motivation of the students.
7. Managing and Monitoring Student Activities During the Limited Time
Finally, the teachers have no sure-shot ways of managing and monitoring the activities and involvement of all the students in real-time. The remote teaching comes without a complete perception of what is happening on the “other side” of the screen, and the teachers cannot see or perceive whether the students are actually listening or not.
The situation becomes even dire in the case of evaluation sessions or tests, where the teachers cannot make sure whether the students are performing honestly or cheating.
After having a thorough understanding of the various challenges faced during remote teaching, let us move on to discuss the tips to overcome these challenges.
Tips for Remote Teaching: Making it Flawless and Engaging
1. Be Available
Teachers have to ensure that they are “available” instead of being merely “present” during the session. They have to invest proper effort to convey the idea of being available for doubts, reiterations, or discussion during the online session.
They can encourage this by asking some students questions, or keeping some time reserved specifically for query resolution. Or, they can keep one class for doubt resolution each week.
They can also opt for a more natural and less formal way of teaching to make the online teaching engaging as well.
2. Focus On Technical Learning
Right as the teachers prepare material for remote teaching, they need to spend some effort in enhancing their learning and understanding of the software or platform they are using. The teacher can also share some hacks to effectively leverage the technology platforms for an active interest in the topic being taught.
In fact, they must have an introductory session for the students as well, where they can demonstrate the various controls and their use. This will not only minimize the confusion during the class but also reduce the time wastage because of searching for the right control or feature.
3. Steer Clear of Offline Learning Methodologies
Classroom teaching is way different than remote teaching and teachers must understand the same. They cannot keep using the same tone, same teaching techniques and merely verbal explanations for illustrations present in a chapter. They have to take the initiative to make the online teaching session as engaging and descriptive as possible.
Let us try to understand this with the help of an example.
Suppose Riya and Simone teach Maths to Grade 2 and are explaining the two-digit subtraction.
Riya simply explains the process verbally and tells the kids to revise the same in the book. She takes only one example of taking carry during subtraction and explains that too verbally.
Simone, on the other hand, explains the sums by writing them down on a page step-by-step. She then explains the examples covered in the book as well.
Who do you think did a better job? Simone, of course!
While verbal explanation might work perfectly well in a classroom session, it increases confusion in a remote teaching session.
Hence, the teaching methodologies must be different for a remote teaching session.
4. Leverage EdTech Tools
EdTech tools and platforms are changing the world of education, and remote teaching is also experiencing the waves of this change. Using EdTech tools for writing on a notepad to simulate the blackboard writing, illustrators, online teaching sources, and special academic learning tools, enhance the quality of learning.
Apart from making the sessions engaging and interactive, these platforms also improve the dynamic progress tracking by gathering detailed student data. The teachers can measure the performance in a better manner and make the learning process more efficient.
EdTech tools and platforms also make the sessions more personalized and improve the collaboration among the peers as well. Hence, they can make the overall remote teaching experience more fulfilling, rewarding, and measurable.
5. Provide Ongoing Feedback
Feedback is a crucial and reliable way to ensure quality in a remote teaching setting. The teachers can gather proactive feedback about the teaching experience and the students can also be offered feedback regularly to keep them motivated.
However, merely collecting feedback is not going to do the job, as the teachers and students need to work on the feedback to overcome the disadvantages.
For example, if a teacher is getting negative feedback for mundane teaching, they need to work on their teaching skills and compile interesting sessions.
Likewise, once a teacher has handed out the individual feedback, he must question the students about their reactions and what they plan to do about improving their performance in the future.
Further, feedback must be an ongoing process to ensure better quality.
6. Make Assignments Relevant to Remote Teaching
Assignments must be relevant and optimized as per the online teaching setting. Give unique assignments, such as reading specific stories and then discussing the moral issues, and underlying questions in them. Give case studies that encourage the research and reflective aptitude of the students.
Instead of giving piles of writing assignments that need to be shared as images, it is better to share analytical or problem-based assignments that educate better.
Some other tips to make assignments relevant to online teaching are:
- Personalized assignments for specific student groups
- Family involvement
- Using online education resources for getting better assignment ideas
7. Evaluation Methodology
Finally, as the dynamics of teaching change in remote teaching, the evaluation methodologies must also change. The teachers should opt for smart and more comprehensive modes of evaluation, such as MCQ-based question papers, instead of descriptive ones and problem-based papers instead of fact-based exams.
Cramming will only make the learning experience worse in an online setting. So, opt for questions that evoke the analytical aptitude of the students. Take help of graphs, patterns, figures, and other forms of visuals and compile smart question papers.
Smart question generating platforms, like PrepAI allow the educators to compile different types of questions from diverse content sources, within minutes. The educators can create questions of different complexity levels, and that too in a bias-free manner.
Using such platforms, the teachers can not only save time and effort in compiling relevant evaluation papers but also improve the overall testing methodology.
Remote Teaching: Bracing up for The “New Normal” in the Future of Teaching
Remote teaching is here to stay; especially with the pandemic not getting wiped out anytime sooner.
While the challenges and benefits of online teaching or remote education hold weight, leveraging the “right technology in the right manner” is the best way to ensure success.
Boosting remote classroom engagement, revamping the educational content to be more relevant to the emerging trends in employment and education, and using a data-driven approach to teaching can drive significant changes.
However, devising a perfect and flawless remote teaching strategy requires patience, experiential learning over time, and the readiness to experiment with different approaches.
While all of this seems to be a bit overwhelming at first, education stakeholders can begin by taking small, yet, crucial steps.
To know more, and to start your remote teaching transformation, please get in touch with us to schedule a demo.