How to make e-learning work
(Continued from last week)
Last week, we looked at strategies that I also shared during a previous seminar on distance learning. Let us resume our discussion on learning structure.
Several schools are anxious about teaching young learners, so I shared good practices from my alma mater, Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA), and my son’s, Xavier School.
ICA is doing clustering in grade school. Instead of meeting the entire class of 32 for Kinder and Grade 1, a teacher meets four clusters of eight students each; and for Grades 2 to 6, two clusters of 16 students each, for 20 to 30 minutes per subject, one cluster at a time.
“We can pay more attention to the children and engagement is higher,” says principal Shirley Tan. “Everyone participates.”
With only a few online at a time, students who were once shy now readily participate in class, report teachers.
However, clustering is exhausting for teachers, who have to do sessions two or four times rather than just once.
Another alternative is to employ teacher companions, done in neighboring Xavier School. “Since online classes have 30 to 40 students,” says director Fr. Ari Dy, “each teacher has a companion to help with classroom management, such as checking attendance, student monitoring, etc.”
“These companions are not only teachers,” he adds, “but also office personnel and administrators. Everyone helps since [it’s work from home] anyway.”
Teachers need to meet regularly to discuss lesson flow, and adjust accordingly when issues arise: Which material will require live discussions? Which can be done by students on their own? How much of the syllabus can be realistically covered?
I advised schools not to worry about finishing the K-12 syllabus, since this cannot be done given present constraints, and prioritize instead what students truly need.
I also discussed teacher training done by Ateneo’s Science and Art of Teaching and Learning Institute led by Fr. Johnny Go.
There is also our virtual one-stop student services hub, Loyola Schools (LS) One, which covers everything students need, from library services and tech support to logistics and health and wellness. Under the leadership of LS vice president Marlu Vilches, LS-One was brought to fruition by associate dean Joy Salita and her team.
Teacher training is mandatory. “How can we help teachers upskill since some are not tech-adept and find digital tools intimidating and impersonal?” asked one school.
Learning management systems like Canvas and video conferencing tools like Zoom are intuitive and easy to learn, I said, so they are popular. No programming or analysis is needed.
Watch tutorials on their sites or on YouTube. Ensure that the school IT team is on hand for prompt assistance.
Form groups of young and old teachers. It was heartwarming to witness young teachers readily assist senior ones, who in turn graciously ask for and receive help from younger generations.
Most importantly, teachers are role models. Learning is a lifelong process, I reminded teachers, and how can we ask students to learn if we ourselves don’t?
Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at www.lazada.com.ph. Contact the author at [email protected]
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