The pandemic period has caused all the countries to close their schools. Being not ready for such a scenario, many countries reacted immediately and launched distance education. That situation brought about a number of difficulties. Thus, we need to see all the teachers in the world as the heroes of this period. Thanks to their ability to learning to learn, a highly important 21st century skill, they swiftly learned the methods they had never used before and they made contacts with their students in this way. At the moment, both teachers and students continue the distance education period. What we need to discuss now is how we can improve distance education.
There are many problems in distance education. One of them is that some students can not participate in distance education lessons due to the lack of opportunities, which causes the inequality of opportunity to grow even more in education. We will be able to see the result of this situation more clearly when schools are reopened. How to control students is another problem. It is very difficult to know what our students are doing on the screen and we should get into interaction with the students. In that point, small educational games can make our work easier. For example, addressing students with their names to get their attention on the lesson and some short-term activities in which students can do the same gestures as you are some of the methods that can make our work easier. At this point, it can be extremely beneficial to use web 2.0 tools. There are a lot of free web 2.0 tools. Web 2.0 tools where you can prepare educational games, create infographics, prepare videos, make online evaluation, discussions, create mind maps, and prepare brainstorm activities can be useful to eliminate the physical distance between students and us. It is exteremely easy to create infographics in Canva, to prepare educational games with Wordwall, to give instant feedback to students by making evaluations with Socrative. Tools such as ‘raise hands’ in distance education applications are also very important for interaction. You can increase students’ active participation by recognizing their intention to speak or express their thoughts. Giving examples from real life can also help attract students’ attention on the lesson. Finally, it is important to remember that your students may need help to access the lesson or they may want to meet their special needs.
It is obvious that teachers are not the only actors of distance education. Especially in social media posts, I observe that the media is constantly talking about what teachers need to do. What about students and families? We all know that there are things that students and families need to do to make this process more useful. Any student of any age may have difficulties in online education. They need to determine their expectations and goals from education in an accessible way. There is no need to be an IT expert to participate in distance education, but it is necessary to learn the basics of online platforms and internet connection settings. Students’ intention for class participation may not be as easy as in face-to-face education. Students should be patient and understand this situation. Students need to interact with their classmates to benefit from the learning process. It is critical to follow the instructions given by the teachers for an effective time management. It has been found out that there are time management issues in especially the evaluation section at the end of the lesson. Distance education students should also pay attention to physical conditions. For example, instant messaging applications should be closed, and a comfortable environment without distractions should be provided by families. Checking the connection before online education is one of the responsibilities of the students in the course (Watkins, 2005: 35-37). In a nutshell, both teachers and students must work as a team for a higher level in distance education.
Thanks to some simple steps to be taken, we can get over this period more efficiently. In this sense, teachers, students, and their families have important duties. We have seen that the world of education is in new searches. The distance education period is unlikely to end anytime soon. In my opinion, the distance education will continue and support face-to-face education when schools are reopened. I hope to reach the healty days where we will experience the new normal in education together.
Watkins, R. (2005). 75 e-Learning Activities: Making Online Learning Interactive. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
And you can read the blog from ETF Open Space: https://openspace.etf.europa.eu/blog-posts/next-level-distance-education#comment-931