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Online Teaching, not the Future Anymore

By Sarah Warring

As everyone, who isn’t hiding under a rock, knows, the Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the globe. Due to this, in the United States, almost all industries have been forced to shut down in-person work. This has especially affected the education sector. As Covid-19 continues to rage on, teachers have found that online teaching is the safest way to deliver lessons. The question is, is it effective?

This debate, which started before Covid-19, questions its effectiveness specifically for students who struggle. In March of 2020, all bets were off, schools were forced into an online learning environment. Every educator and parent were equally stunned at the rapid change. However, as pedagogues, we are used to being adaptable.

Technology has come a long way in just 20 years. In the classroom, we use PowerPoints instead of overhead slides. We use ClassDojo, instead of stickers or other classroom management tools. We use Edoctrina for our testing, instead of literally cutting and pasting. So, why does it surprise anyone that technology is moving to online classes?

Susanna Loeb states, “a study of college students that I worked on with Stanford colleagues found very little difference in learning for high-performing students in the online and in-person settings. On the other hand, lower-performing students performed meaningfully worse in online courses than in in-person courses” (p. 17). If it is done correctly, I think this could help, not hurt lower-performing students. Online classrooms are not one-sided anymore.

Teachers and students have many ways they can be interactive online. Teachers can give students the options to be either synchronous or asynchronous and observe them in both scenarios. If a student in elementary or secondary school is struggling, then teachers and parents can come together in a variety of apps. If a college student is struggling, they can meet with teachers outside of office hours, set up tutoring, and look at content outside of real-time sessions.

In an article from Edutopia, it states there are six strategies for success in online learning, “…Be authentic, be familiar, be simple, be flexible, be organized, be concise…” (Mitchell, 2020). Do these strategies sound familiar? They should. Classroom teachers use them every day. We reword directions to simplify them. Some of us talk about ourselves and our own interests to build relationships. We also prepare all summer for the next year or semester. These techniques can help both advanced and failing students. If an educator works with each of their students’ needs in mind, online education can be incredibly effective.