Amidst the concern for the global outbreak of the coronavirus, many schools and colleges are responding by shutting down campuses to limit face-to-face interactions. Many of these schools are quickly seeing online education as a potential solution during a health disruption. For example, this afternoon my daughter, who is in her first year at a nearby college, emailed to say that they’re extending spring break until the end of the month and then moving classes online. The challenge, however, is whether these schools are prepared for a quick move online. It’s not like flipping a switch. As Howard Rheingold, the innovator and great thinker, tweeted earlier this week:
“Good teaching is hard and teaching well online is harder. And right now, many teachers are being forced to dive into the deep end of online teaching without instruction in how to do it well.”
In his tweets, Rheingold goes on to discuss the importance of fostering student participation and collaboration in online and face-to-face classes and how to “elicit enthusiastic engagement and rich dialog online” through co-learning with students.
Buried within the tweets and links Rheingold shared, I found this great resource created by Janae Cohn and Beth Seltzer, two academic technology specialists at Stanford University. Titled “Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption,” the resource is a great primer to online teaching. It discusses the differences between synchronous and asynchronous instruction and provides three practical and straight-forward ways to shift a class online. The great part is the authors Creative Commons licensed the document so that anyone can revise the original work and tailor it to their institution.
While “Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption” is a tremendous resource, it’s not going to make anyone an expert online teacher overnight. But that’s not it’s intent, either. Instead, it will help to bridge the pedagogical and professional development gap as we navigate the uncharted waters that lie ahead. Moving classes online is a lot harder than flipping a switch, but with the help of this resource, it might be a little easier and a lot less stressful.