Thursday 25 February 2021
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newtimes - 2 days ago

Self-centred learning in the era of a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has posed an adverse impact on almost every part of human life, and reports indicate that the learning cycle is no exception. One of the obvious outcomes is a rapid transition to online classes, which educators say shams logistical and pedagogical challenges, especially for students in remote areas. However, according to a survey published by the Life Letter, adapting to a virtual course does not mean you have to radically revise your learning objectives or course materials. Rather, the consultancy adds, it is an opportunity to check-in and ensure your course is focusing on students and their learning experience. From the report, here are the 5 top tips and resources for navigating the transition online: Ensure flexibility Like everybody else, the report notes that all students are dealing with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, and may even become sick themselves. “Prioritise accessibility by removing any formal attendance policies, late policies and firm deadlines. Communicate all policy changes in a revised syllabus. Ask students to share with you privately concerns they have or accommodations they need to be successful in this new learning space. Be sure to frame this as a request and respect students’ right to privacy,” the report reads in part. Be readily available Regularly reach out to your students with updates and course changes. For students without stable access to the internet and/or a computer, an educator is advised to use alternative communication methods such as conference calls. “There’s never been a better time to set up regular, brief check-ins with your students to gather feedback. Check-ins could be as simple as creating a short quiz or discussion session to take the pulse of your students (e.g., to check understanding of an advanced concept, to determine if you might need to offer additional support, to check if online tools are working for them, or to simply ask how your students are doing today).” Avoid attaching a grade or points to check-ins, which may add to rather than reduce stress and anxiety. Instead, consider offering additional feedback for completion, or acknowledge helpful student perspectives in message blasts to students. Prioritise collaboration Experts argue that educators should consider grouping students to foster dialogue. “Encourage informal virtual meetups or digital peer reviews.” Replace exams and consider other forms of assessment Because testing environments cannot be controlled online, move away from exams, the consultancy says. “Consider replacing exams with reports, creative projects and content creation. When possible, offer options for completing major assignments. The same creative project that energises one student may build anxiety in another.” It adds, “Now, more than ever, is the time to reward student learning and shift away from precise grades. Make the majority of your assignments credit/no credit. For major assignments, consider only giving letter grades (A,B,C) and adopt your assessment mentality from pass/fail courses.” Seek out alternative classrooms As it is globally, many cultural sites and organisations in Rwanda have digital archives they have made available. “Seize this opportunity for students to interact with primary texts, tour heritage sites, or listen and watch world class performances,” the site suggests.

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