online education

The efficient strategy to distance studying

By Véronique C. Plouffe, MBA, CRHA, Professor of Business Administration, La Cité College and student at Laval University

In this text, Véronique C. Plouffe offers a set of strategies aimed at maximizing learning outcomes in the context of distance learning while minimizing teacher effort to reduce the risk of burnout.

The outbreak of COVID-19 led to a massive shift to distance learning in spring 2020. Originally, it was about maintaining access to education through technology, known as emergency distance learning.

Although a recent survey in the United States shows that 75% of college (post-secondary) students prefer classroom or hybrid education, several institutions have nonetheless identified certain benefits of distance learning and plan to retain at least some of their educational offerings.

In this context, it becomes important to reflect on some of the challenges that online teaching brings, such as: B. the mental health of teachers. The latter may experience exhaustion, demotivation, and a sense of incompetence in the face of a lack of resources or the excessive workload after moving to distance learning.

To reduce the risk of professional burnout, which is even more difficult to detect in telework, here we offer you a number of strategies aimed at maximizing the possible learning outcomes in the distance learning context while minimizing the teacher’s effort. We hope they will also appeal to those who teach in education as well as those in higher education.

Introspection is required

First, make yourself aware of the way you think about distance learning. Do you hope that everything will go back to “the way it used to be” or do you think that you are bad at using technology? Deciding to view distance learning as an opportunity to grow and develop one’s skills would change one’s perception of the situation.

It’s no longer about surviving distance learning, it’s about thriving in it.

It’s no longer about surviving distance learning, it’s about thriving in it.

We know that every teaching service involves a lot of preparatory work. Start acknowledging your stress, your beliefs, and the emotional work that distance learning requires. A greater dose of empathy for yourself could free you from negative emotions that make work difficult.

Less is more!

When preparing educational activities, apply the 3Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.

First, we reduce by questioning the necessity of this task that we want to accomplish in order to achieve the learning objective. Is this activity, which takes an hour to prepare, absolutely necessary? Even this elaborate layout?

Then we’ll reuse them by seeing if we can customize existing activities. This is a huge time saver when writing the instructions, layout, or even the assessment grid.

Finally, we recycle, collaborating with colleagues and picking up material already available on various sharing platforms (of which here is a directory in English) or through textbook publishers. We will then of course ensure that copyrights are respected.

Avoid always trying to test and use new applications. The philosophy less is more also has its place in the choice of technological tools. You save time by making a limited selection of the solutions that are most effective for your classroom.

Each new tool requires time to become familiar with its components and adds time for support to young people who are using the tool for the first time. Focusing on a small collection of well-chosen tools simplifies your planning and reduces the stress associated with starting over.

Get down to the nitty gritty about the information you need and the tasks you need to perform. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to give a little extra to cover all the bases and meet learner expectations. Knowing that only 20-30% of university students would actually read the required resources, making an informed choice will avoid overloading everyone.

Small practical tips

Take advantage of distance learning to ease the stress of preparing for classes. Instead of giving lengthy presentations (which take just as long to prepare and are more or less listened to by students), use asynchronous training to offer existing reading or videos. In class, you can use the opportunity to discuss and suggest practice activities.

Another idea to reduce the preparation time for the presentation of theoretical content is to bring in a visiting specialist. Adding a new person to the class has the benefit of livening up the course and often retains student interest for longer thanks to the novelty effect and the potential to expand their professional network for older students.

Regular feedback encourages students to invest more in preparation between lessons and keeps them more motivated. Use your training platform to preschedule the sending of recognition messages whenever possible when a learner completes a task. He will automatically receive your encouraging messages.

Finally…

Just as distance learning requires special skills for students of all ages, remote teaching also requires adapting to new ways of doing things. Although the goal of the teacher remains the same, the resources available and the working methods differ. The tracks featured in this article are just a quick overview. It’s a safe bet that several other best practices will emerge over time.

Editor’s note: This text was first published in the blog of the Chair of Teaching Leadership (CLÉ) on innovative teaching practices in the digital context – National Bank. It has been edited for publication on our site.

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