Benjamin Hackl writes about his experiences as an educator and how he has adapted to teaching online during the times of COVID-19. He discusses how students can learn most effectively and feel supported in this virtual world of learning.
Aside from these software suggestions, I have some further recommendations when it comes to distance teaching, apart from staying in contact. It might be a very rational first reflex to hand out a large collection of teaching material to your students so they can study it at their own pace – but try not to do that. The idea that students should learn at their own pace is a good one, but handing out too many assignments at once will certainly overwhelm some of your students. You are also very likely not the only lecturer or teacher students have that will do this. Try even more than usual to assign a realistic amount of work to them – and keep in mind that due to the current situation, some of your students might be under severe psychological stress. People they care about or depend on might have even lost their jobs and/or be sick. For the very same reason, it is not a bad idea to be rather lenient when it comes to assignments your students have to hand in: you might get more late submissions than usual – and maybe also fewer submissions in total.
Several students I have spoken to also asked me to keep my online lectures in the same time slots as they would be usually – because it provides a bit of rhythm and structure to their chaotic days. In addition, I still recommend recording your sessions and making the recordings available to the students as not all of them might be able to attend the regular times due to care duties or other reasons.
Obviously, everyone will handle these extraordinary times in a different way. Neither teachers nor students should forget that this situation is new for everyone. Remember to show understanding if things do not immediately work out as planned. Feel free to try out some of my recommended software – or use something entirely different: whatever works, works!
Department of Mathematics,
ALPEN-ADRIA-UNIVERSITÄT KLAGENFURT, AUSTRIA