Sunday, November 08, 2020

Students Experiences with Emergency Remote Teaching

With COVID cases going back up in many places, including here in the US, many schools are still sticking to remote and online classes. Even those that opened their campuses are now starting to fall back to such modality of learning.

At some point, there needs to be an assessment on how students are dealing with all of this, and the degree that it has impacted their learning process. The migration from regular face-to-face (f2f) classes to emergency remote classes due to the pandemic is a highly unusual case and requires quite a bit of investigation.

This is one such study, conducted on physics students at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It surveyed the students perception of how the lesson was delivered during this past Spring 2020 when all schools in the US shut down in March and changed to online learning.

Having gone through it as an instructor, I know that it wasn't easy for everyone involved. In many cases, a lot of the quality of instruction certainly suffered to a certain extent. So it should be informative to learn the students' perspective on this, and it may be useful as a guide, considering that there is a strong possibility that many of us will continue with remote learning this coming Spring 2021.

As for me, I feel significantly better prepared. I spent the past Summer 2020 getting trained as an online instructor, even though I intend to stick to just f2f courses if and when we do get back to "normal". But learning the "best practice" method in online lesson delivery was extremely helpful. But the best part was that these training courses and workshops are themselves online courses, done asynchronously like most online courses. So I got to experience first-hand what it feels like to be an online student, to feel sometime the confusion on where to find things and what to do next. The fact that you are on your own means that even the design of the learning management page can be a factor, that things need to be arranged in such a manner that things that are important need to be front and center, and easy to find. So I think that I learned almost as much about teaching online from just being an online student myself as from the course's material and lesson.

Spring 2021 will continue to be in the remote-learning format. But I think I'm getting the hang of this. I know that I no longer feel that I'm bumbling in the dark. I still need to refine many of the stuff that I do and execute, but things no longer feel daunting. I know that I'm working almost twice as hard preparing for these online lessons (we have synchronous sessions during the scheduled class time) when compared to the old f2f classes. But now, I feel that I know what to expect and I'm well-prepared for it.