Online Education

combined success and classes to be discovered

In the spring of 2020, the world of education plunged into distance learning. Since then, it can be expected that the quality of online learning has improved. However, while some teachers are doing well, others have been less successful to the detriment of the students.

It must be said that even if this type of learning was undergoing a rapid and continuous evolution before Covid-19, especially in higher education, most students and teachers were taken by surprise.

Faced with this emergency, the teaching staff did their best, but with mixed results. Likewise, students had to learn in an unusual context.

As specialists in distance learning, we are interested in implementing this method of learning and in supporting the parties involved. More than a year later, we find that the quality of online learning is still uneven.

crisis training

First, how can we read in a book Distance Learning Guide for College and University Studiespublished in September 2020 by a group of education researchers: “Learning during the pandemic was not really distance education. It was learning in times of crisis.”

Both in person and remotely, creating great courses takes time, learning, and coaching. And beyond courses, a whole ecosystem of learning-related life and support is essential for students to work hard and succeed. In fact, distance learning cannot be improvised.

Kingdom of the Exposed

Some schools have required their professors to replace all scheduled class times with “synchronous” online classes, that is, classes offered to everyone at the same time, live, via video call.

Knowing that the average duration of a person’s concentration or sustained attention is about 15 minutes, we can understand that after 30 minutes, some students close the camera. For students who take multiple courses this way, it’s like asking them to listen to a movie in circles for a week!

In fact, it would be possible to keep students’ attention by changing the pace, encouraging them to participate, and encouraging them to engage in engaging learning activities. However, often the scenario of an online course is not very specific, as it may be in a program or film; The teacher presents the content. Therefore, it is not surprising that the motivation and concentration of students in distance learning courses decrease, or that they prefer to listen to the recordings again at a convenient time for them.

In the classroom, the ability to concentrate is not better, but the teacher can use different strategies to keep attention.
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In the classroom, the ability to concentrate is no better – students browse social media, consume or play online – but the teacher can use various strategies to keep their attention, such as varying the volume or tone of their voice, circulating in the classroom. and intervene to put the student in order. It’s much harder to do this from a distance.



Read more: Distance education: a source of education renewal?


Create event

What to do then? We may first ask ourselves whether it is necessary for the course to include the same number of synchronous sessions as if it were offered face to face.

For example, we can take advantage of one of the strengths of this type of distance learning to interact, ask questions, and provide immediate feedback to students. On the other hand, you can take advantage of “asynchronous” learning with reading or watching videos. In this way, the student can learn at their own pace and find time for deep reflection.

In other words, we should make sure that the meetings are not to be missed events, and not bet on these meetings just for student learning. In addition, these meetings should be written and prepared like your favorite TV shows.

A sense of presence, a great absence

A study by two professors from the University of Aix-Marseille found that 61.2% of students believe that distance learning reduces exchanges between them, and almost 70% of students say they interact much less with their teachers.

A student quoted in a Radio-Canada report last fall said that of her five courses, two were read entirely from PDF documents without any interaction with her teachers. “I believe PDF lessons are worth $1,800,” she said.

These remarks clearly illustrate students’ sense of isolation while recognizing that supervision and support are key aspects of distance education.

This supervision must be proactive and reactive in order to create a sense of presence fueled by the teacher as well as other students. It should promote greater intimacy between all.

Observing students is not just about answering emails, but planning interventions to increase motivation, encourage interaction through questions, and reduce anxiety during assessments, all throughout the course. Not taking the time to address this aspect of the online course is to fall into one of the major traps of only taking the distance course in person.

No more deceit

Some educators believe that plagiarism and cheating are more common at a distance than in the classroom. However, recent studies on the subject show that this is not the case. In fact, there will be as many, if not fewer, if the assessments offered are adapted to distance learning. If the number of cases seems to have increased with the pandemic, this is probably also due to attempts to “simple” remote transfer of grades present (exams, oral presentations) without trying to counter plagiarism and fraud.

Developing assessments as part of a distance learning course is a great opportunity for innovation. Digital tools can be used and allow students to demonstrate their skills, know-how and skills in the context of reflection, discussion, analysis and judgment. In this way, richer and more complete assessment contexts can be realized than just being limited to multiple choice questions or essays.



Read more: Video game-like student assessment


In fact, remote estimates can be segmented and more easily focused on delivery processes rather than outcomes. Distance learning allows you to go further in learning assessment without increasing the burden of correction, while reducing the initial opportunities for cheating and plagiarism.

Solutions to known pitfalls

Fortunately, there are known ways to avoid the pitfalls of distance learning. Teachers need training and support. They also need to be given time to develop a distance learning course. In addition to accommodating teachers and students, this will allow for the development of stronger and better teaching materials.

The availability of more effective technical-pedagogical tools will also allow teachers to go beyond traditional presentation-based pedagogy. Distance learning, whether it is synchronous or asynchronous, has known benefits, provided it is used correctly, allowing teachers and especially students to benefit from it.

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