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Transitioning to Online Learning During an Emergency

Moving teaching and learning online in the midst of a crisis isn’t unprecedented, it’s been done before but never to the extent that educators across the globe are currently facing.  This sudden shift to temporary or what could become long-term use of an online learning platform requires a very different approach to a program that is planned and developed over time.

Transitioning to online learning in the middle of a pandemic requires institutions to think about the delivery of courses in a new way, educators to learn to use new tools and try new teaching techniques.  There are a myriad of pathways to implementing technology-based education but how do you determine what is the right tool for you as an educator and for your students?  Here are our top suggestions on how to do this based on class activity.

Or download this guide here.

Tutorial:  closely connected

Tutorial class sizes are typically small and involve a high level of participation and discussion.  Use virtual classroom technology like Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to create real-time interaction, discussion and participation.  Virtual classroom tools for educators to consider:

  • Microphone: activate the microphone to allow for real-time interaction between you and your students.
  • Video: use the video to provide a stronger sense of connection with your students.  If the group is small enough, allow students to turn on their own video. If you encounter issues with connection speed and quality (freezing or jittering) just use the video to initially connect with your students and then disable it to save on connection bandwidth usage and increasing the user experience for students with a poor internet connection.
  • Presentation and screen-sharing: share your slides or screen.
  • Chat: facilitate discussion via text chat.
  • Breakout room: use breakout rooms for students to work on activities in small groups and then regroup in the main room to share feedback.
  • Recording: as a part of an emergency response, record your tutorial sessions for students who are unable to attend or have connectivity issues.
  • Attendance: use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to automatically record attendance to your Blackboard Learn Grade Centre.

Find out more about Blackboard Collaborate or activate your Virtual Classroom in minutes.

Workshop/Seminar:  formal and practical communication

A workshop or seminar provides educators with the best of both worlds; we recommend treating this activity like a lecture with additional participation in discussions or task-based activities.

  • Record the presentation part of the workshop and present it to students within the LMS.
  • Whilst a real-time chat tool like that which is available in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is an obvious choice to facilitate discussion, use a non-real-time tool like a discussion board.  Moving the discussion to an asynchronous mode relieves the time-pressure associated with an emergency response to moving teaching online.  A moderated discussion board will allow you and your students to participate in a rich discussion on the material being studied, allowing for a more thoughtful and in-depth participation than a real-time chat could facilitate.
  • Other task-based or collaborative activities can also be facilitated in non-real-time using collaborative tools such as wikis, collaborative documents (like Google docs or Office 365), mind-mapping software or other tools that are available in your institution.

View our range of help resources for real-time collaboration in a virtual classroom and enrol now to get the training you need to scale your digital teaching and learning.

Laboratory/Practical:  hands-on approach

Of all the activities available to educators, those involving a laboratory or practical are the most challenging to rapidly move online during an emergency response.  Although that’s not to say it cannot be done, there are a number of specialised software solutions that aim to help institutions move these kinds of activities online.  If your students already have access to the appropriate hardware and software from home, it is possible to move a computer laboratory online and apply the same tools used in tutorials and workshops. 

Find out how Blackboard Learn Ultra can help instructors provide all the necessary course information and links for a practical lab within your LMS.

Lecture: reaching the masses

With the number of students attending a lecture hitting in excess of 400 or so at any one time and with minimal interaction, the challenge for educators is keeping your audience engaged.  Going online doesn’t mean you need to compromise; you can still create interest and a presence using a non-real time (asynchronous) recording of your lecture presentation.

Find out how Kaltura can make education more engaging, interactive and effective with their lecture capture technology.

Institutions are likely to continue operating in an environment of shifting circumstances for some time.  The opportunities for thinking beyond conventional teaching methods, to consider how course content can be more accessible and continue to engage students as they move through their course towards completion will always remain the primary goal for educators. 

For more information, please review our Continuity of Education portal or you can download this guide here.

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