Sunday, May 24, 2020

What About the Students Who Thrive Learning Online

In my end of course evaluations I asked my students if they learned better online or in the classroom. Not surprisingly, most of them said they learned better in the classroom. Maybe the experience will help motivate them to come to class. But I have been thinking about the students who said they learned better online. My son who is an elementary school principal has been seeing similar things. Students who struggle in the physical classroom are thriving online. What can we learn from this to help us reach these students better?.

The last few months have been anything but a careful study so it is hard if not impossible to come to firm conclusions. Antidotally, it looks like some students are more comfortable asking questions privately. Hardly a surprise but we don’t generally make allowances for that. Maye we should.

Other students are doing well because they are more In Control of their schedule. I don’t just mean the time of day, though I suspect that is a factor for some. I mean they can work on a subject in smaller or larger chunks of time. If they are really progressing and feeling food they can keep going. I have had students stay after class in the physical and well as the online classroom but teaching online the last class of the day has resulted in a lot more students staying late and getting extra help

Often we know that there are times when frustration means one should walk away from a problem and come back with fresh eyes later. The asynchronous learning that many schools have been using really opens the door for more of that. Its not like homework which in theory would allow for that because the whole day has been unstructured or at least less structured.

Home school parents have been talking about these things for years.If educators can look beyond our own biases perhaps we can learn from them.

Over the summer, hopefully, we can catch our breath and take a close look at what we learned, what worked, and what didn’t work. We’ll know more about how to teach online for sure. It wouldn’t hurt to look at this experience for things that may help the students who don’t learn as well in the physical classroom.


Garth said...

I posted this for my staff. Online and face to face should not be mutually exclusive. This quarantine has some worthwhile lessons learned not just about teaching remotely.

Doug said...

That's an interesting observation. I'd be hesitant to draw permanent conclusion as this time though.

It's only been a short term change
The alternative isn't possible so it's this or nothing
There's a real novelty with the current reality
Your sample size and demographics aren't representative of the whole school

But, there's still lessons to be learned and we don't know what the fall holds just yet.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this, Alfred.

Unknown said...

As an online teacher for many years, it is my experience that some students prefer to learn online: the student who understands the subject well and is bored in a face-2-face class when the teacher must slow down or stop to help the students who are struggling, can work at whatever pace they want. The student who is bullied at school learns much better when they feel safe at home; the student who has great ideas but doesn't participate in face-2-face class discussions because they like to carefully consider how to make their point before sharing which is possible in online; the student who struggles to wake up in time for school, however is wide awake at 2 in the morning and wouldn't mind doing some schoolwork; the student who find it stressful to follow the teacher's pace in face-2-face, but can go back over the content multiple times online. I could go on and on. But I think it's time we recognize that online learning is just another method of delivery. Works great for some, doesn't work for others, a little bit of both is good.