With the sudden appearance of Coronavirus in March 2020 and the subsequent lockdown, post-16 training providers up and down the land have had to significantly increase the amount of online training they deliver.
Managers and teachers have had to adapt very quickly and have done so with great success. We too have had to adapt, moving our training programmes and CPD from face-to-face to online overnight. We have been delivering training through national webinars very successfully for over a number of years but found that we had to draw upon and add to our own skills as trainers very quickly! In addition to our continued training offer, we have also been advising providers on how best to manage this shift to online delivery, without compromising on quality.
From September, providers will be testing out the ‘new normal’ with ‘Ed Tech’ set to feature highly. Here are some top tips for both managers, trainers and teachers.
1. Continue to Teach. Whatever approach you are using, whatever platform you are using, keep being responsive to learners; keep checking progress; keep learning interactive; keep developing learners’ wider skills…. you get the idea. Use the tools at your disposal to assess progress and check learning. Don’t just rely on the ‘chat’ facility; use ‘hands up’ to check understanding; use polling to assess views; ask learners to unmute their mics so they can articulate their thinking verbally. This leads to….
2. Ask the right questions to get learners to open up when asked to contribute verbally. The great thing about online delivery is that learners who would not normally have the confidence to ask or answer a question may now do so when using a chat box online. Asking the right questions can encourage these learners to unmute and speak. For example ‘tell me more about….’, ‘What is your thinking around that question?’, ‘Great point.. tell me why you said that’, ‘What else would you want to add?’ and ‘I’m curious when you said that… what did you mean by that?
3. Stand back and don’t be afraid of the silent pauses when learners are doing activities. Watch responses come in. Use the space to reflect and to be responsive to learners’ contributions.
4. Get the learners doing things. Give them time and make it clear what the time boundaries are. E.g. “I now want you to look at the handout I emailed to you. You have 3 minutes to write into your chat box the 3 things that you found most interesting about this article”
5. Give out exercises and tasks to do before the session; think ‘Blended’ but without the face-to-face session. E.g. “Watch this video clip, I will be running a poll about it in the session” or “annotate this document – I will be seeking your views online in the first ten minutes of the session”
6. As we get back to some sense of normal, continue to blend online with Face to Face. Technology is great but does not replace the interactions that happen in a classroom or workshop. Plan a Blended approach in which Face to Face and online delivery support one another.
7. When teaching online, make sure that your learning materials are easy to access and understood by all learners; platforms such as Teams and Zoom allow you to add subtitles for when you speak online and Youtube gives you a subtitling facility when producing video content. Make sure that you don’t go too text-heavy with slides and online resources.
8. Make learning social. Have a teaching assistant take part for example to keep an eye on messages as they come in throughout the session; teamwork makes online delivery so much easier! Create a sense of community through, for example, getting learners to respond to one another’s messages. A ‘thumbs-up’ next to a chat message can do wonders for the confidence of the learner who posted the comment.
9. Consider those who do not have access to the internet or technology. You may need to reach these learners through other conventional means, like telephone and posting out physical workbooks and other learning materials. Be aware that many learners will use mobile technology and that this does not always give the same level of interactivity as do computers.
10. Keep learning and have a go! Sites like the Education Training Foundation provide great resources.
Education Training Foundation: etfoundation.co.uk
Ofsted and online learning: https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-ofsted-school-visits-focus-blended-learning