What teachers do not find effective about online learning

FETC® speakers share ways ed tech coaches can improve distance education, in response to a survey that reveals pain points and current needs of K-12 teachers
By: | June 18, 2020
Ed tech coaches can provide best practices for online teaching to improve the results of a survey that revealed what educators do not think is effective when teaching online.Gettyimages.com/Slphotography

During school closures, many educators felt underprepared for online learning and believed that their students would not learn in this new environment.

More than 1,000 U.S. educators shared these and other concerns about teaching online in a survey commissioned by the University of Phoenix.

Less than half of teachers said training for online learning was good or excellent. As a result, many teachers spent almost as much time prepping for classes as they did teaching, but 43% still thought their students would not learn as effectively online as they did in the classroom despite their efforts.

Ed tech coaches can help instill best practices for online teaching in the summer and possibly in the fall if schools remain closed or embrace a blended learning model. But these specialists first need to focus on why and when to use technology before teaching how to implement and instruct with ed tech tools.

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Related: Why FETC attendees are one step closer to obtaining an ed tech micro-credential

“Think about it. Cooking isn’t about using an oven. It’s about making a dish palatable and appealing, adjusting for tastes and needs,” says Brianna Hodges who spoke on coaching beyond the tools and led the ed tech coach orientation at FETC 2020. “How you get there is up to what you have on hand and who you’re serving.”

Ed tech coaches who focus more so on how to use specific technologies rather than instruction will diminish the opportunity to authentically embed technology while teaching online.

“Loading PDFs into an LMS and calling it good, sends the message that learning is devoid of interaction,” says Hodges, who is also a consultant and advisor at Future Ready Coaches, a group of instructional leaders who design and deliver learning experiences for educators. “An effective classroom isn’t a room with written instructions on the board and assignments left on desks where students come and go without guidance and interaction for their teacher and classmates.”

Other best practices for online teaching

Teachers have access to numerous video tools. Hodges recommends QuickTime for Mac OS, ScreenRecord for iOS, and Loom for Chrome.

Hodges has had success leveraging a platform such as Flipgrid to serve as a virtual FAQ board or as a 1:1 coach chat. “I kept the grid private to myself and the teacher, and we used videos to explain, discuss, and reply asynchronously,” she says.

Ed tech coaches need to use videos

The most effective way for educators to learn how to teach with video-conferencing platforms is for ed tech coaches to record themselves on video—and the recordings do not have to be perfect. “If we aren’t sure how to use video effectively, we can’t support our teachers or students with it,” says Hodges.

Ed tech coaches can create short videos on how to work through challenges to supplement instruction for the entire group or for one-on-one discussions with teachers individually.

Hodges also recommends showing educators how to make videos memorable by using time lapse and animated or stop-motion narrated process maps in their own videos.

“Just grab your phone, laptop, or device and switch on the camera. It’s really that simple,” says Hodges. “Your colleagues miss you. They want to see your smile and know that you are there to support them.”

Focus on student wellbeing

The survey conducted by the University of Phoenix also found that 41% of educators felt overwhelmed with the amount of resources that were available on teaching online effectively.

Ed tech coaches should encourage teachers to focus on their students first before trying to make sense of this endless information.

“Don’t worry about what your online classroom will like, how to record videos or where assignments should be turned in,” says Steven W. Anderson who spoke on how to stop drowning in data to maximize learning and teaching effectively with technology at this year’s FETC 2020 . “Instead, see how students are doing. Ensure their mental wellbeing. Don’t let someone tell you that because you aren’t using some edtech fad you aren’t a good teacher. Do what is comfortable for you and most of all your students.”

Once teachers have checked on the wellbeing of their students, they should analyze their pedagogy and decide if it will work in an online environment. “If at first glance it doesn’t appear too, move on,” says Anderson, who is digital learning and relationship evangelist at Web20Classroom, an education and technology group. “If it is worth your time in investigating, do it, but don’t be afraid to abandon it when it doesn’t.”

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