How online options are ensuring COVID-19 doesn’t impede education and learningMarch 11, 20204 min read
As schools and academic institutions across America prepare to react to the COVID-19 outbreak, the likely scenario is students will be going online to continue their studies. But that's okay since the world has transformed with the internet and social media, and remote work and telecommuting have increased 159% since 2005.
Though a safe and excellent alternative – there are some aspects that need to be considered to ensure studies are delivered effectively.
Christine Greenhow is an Associate Professor of Educational Technology and Educational Psychology at Michigan State University – she was able to offer her expert insight on some popular questions that are being asked.
When it comes to remote teaching and learning, will using a Learning Management System (LMS) be enough?
Using a Learning Management System (LMS) like Blackboard will not be enough. To fully engage students in remote teaching and learning, educators cannot simply take an existing class and put it online; effective remote teaching and learning requires revisiting your goals for students’ learning and classroom culture and considering how using the online technologies available to you can help you meet, or even re-imagine and improve on those goals.
For instance, maybe your goals are to give students multiple opportunities to practice skills they need to be successful in future work places—skills like collaboration, public speaking, writing, and socio-emotional skills like establishing and maintaining positive relationships—all within a fun, cohesive, and supportive classroom culture.
What are some other resources and technologies that may be useful for teachers, students, and parents?
Widely available social media as well as robot technologies are two technologies that can be especially useful for teachers, students, and parents when teaching and learning move online.
Our work at Michigan State University’s College of Education has found that using social media for education has several benefits, such as enhancing students’ collaboration, community building, writing and active learning. For instance, in one study, using Facebook as the site for students’ debate of contemporary science issues enhanced their collaborative learning over other online settings. In another study, students’ use of social media was associated with their increased sense of belonging to peers and others, which is important because when students feel connected to their classmates and teachers they tend to be more engaged and perform better in school.
In my own classes at Michigan State, I teach on-campus and online students in the same class period as well as asynchronously online when we are not meeting. I integrate social media in my teaching for various purposes; it helps me get to know my students, stay connected when we are apart, connect what we are learning to a wider network of people and resources, and provide a playful space for students to practice essential skills.
Will school closings necessarily reduce the capacity of educators to teach their students?
School closings do not necessarily have to reduce the capacity of educators to teach their students. If teachers have adequate and timely support for reflecting on their goals for student learning, considering the technologies available to them and how their capabilities align (or not) with these goals, and for designing lessons where there is a good match, they can be as -- or perhaps even more successful -- in their teaching. School closings could provide teachers with the opportunity to tackle some of their persistent teaching problems, re-thinking what is not working and redesigning their approaches to take advantage of the capabilities of technologies like social media and robots.
On the other hand, teachers will need help and support at the school and district level. Effective remote teaching often requires more organization up front and ensuring that materials are readily available and accessible to the full range of learners will be key. In addition, tech support in the form of colleagues and others who can help not just trouble-shoot but think through technology integration and pedagogy will be vitally important.
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Christine Greenhow is an Associate Professor of Educational Technology and Educational Psychology at Michigan State University and is a leader in the areas of educational technology, where she studies learning and teaching in social media contexts and innovative teaching online with the goal of improving theory, practice and policy in K-12 and higher education. A former public high school teacher, Greenhow is the winner of MSU’s Teacher-Scholar Award for teaching and research excellence and the AT&T award for Innovative Teaching with Technology. She has taught in face-to-face, online, and hybrid formats since 2012. She is available to speak with media regarding this topic – simply click on her icon to arrange an interview.
Christine Greenhow Associate Professor of Educational Technology and Educational Psychology
Education expert, focusing on the impact of social media and new technologies in teaching and learning, digital scholarship