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Successful In-Person Learning - Beyond 2021

The Fall of 2021 marks the first time in over a year that many college and university students will be attending face-to-face classes. As educators prepare anew for in-person instruction, they may benefit from reflecting on the past year’s experiences with remote teaching and learning. While in-person and remote learning are unique, there are many takeaways from online learning that instructors can apply to in-person learning.

In part one of this series on teaching beyond the pandemic, we explore techniques from face-to-face teaching that can be applied to online teaching. In this, part two of our series, we discuss online teaching techniques that can enhance in-person learning.

Understanding as a foundation for in-person learning

In a recent blog post, Jennifer Berdahl discusses some lessons from teaching during the pandemic that speak to a new level of empathy, trust, respect, and admiration for students. Lessons in empathy include:

  • Extending patience and flexibility
  • Getting to know students and their names better
  • Spending more time on listening and giving feedback to students
  • Focusing on education and success

Similar to teaching and grading students online, in-person learning starts with understanding. Students have individual needs and concerns that may present barriers to learning. It is through understanding that educators can begin to break down learning barriers.

Student engagement and in-person learning

Though lack of student engagement is a common concern expressed about online courses, the challenge of lackluster student interaction can occur in person as well.

Jennifer suggests more and lower stakes assessment to ameliorate this issue. This type of micro-assessment can increase student engagement while offering an avenue for authentic assessment. Other micro-assessment types include assigning minute papers, application cards, and classroom polls to assess student progress.

As Jennifer also mentions, class discussion is imperative, whether done in small groups or as a class, it is important to encourage participation and engagement. One way to achieve this is to pre-record lectures for watching outside of face-to-face class time. Class time can then be reserved for conversation and application of concepts to real-life situations.

When lectures occur in class, the incorporation of question and answer periods into lecture time can assist with engagement. Instructors can choose when to answer questions and ensure that question and answer time integrates well with the flow of instruction. This is similar to a technique for online teaching wherein educators regularly check for questions in the chat feature of an online system.

Technology-enhanced classroom

Because they can be distracting and time-consuming to resolve, technical difficulties can present barriers to in-person teaching and learning. By prepping the in-class environment and computer and projector connections before class, instructors can limit technology issues during class time. Once basic technical issues have been minimized, instructors can focus on options for technology enhanced teaching and learning.

In the past year, some technology trends have emerged for enhanced teaching and learning. Instructors may want to explore these ideas:

  • Intersperse video-assisted learning such as short animations, videos, or other audio-visual content to introduce variety and engaging information into traditional learning formats. Consider showing popular online videos about key concepts or TED Talks about relevant ideas.
  • Use technology to help track student performance. With online platforms like Crowdmark, instructors can view analysis of student performance and quickly identify individual areas for improvement.
  • Gamify the learning experience. Higher education instructors can take advantage of digital platforms designed to encourage engagement with activities such as quick-response quizzes. Digital platforms can also be effectively utilized to teach concepts like game theory.

One final technological feature discussed on Jennifer Berdahl’s blog is online chat. This function in online environments empowers students who may hesitate to speak or share their thoughts in a class. As educators move back into the classroom, incorporating technology that gives a voice to less outspoken or vocal students may serve to make the classroom more accessible for all students.

As technology becomes a greater focus in the traditional classroom, other trends are emerging. One trend that some experts are predicting will continue, is the option to take hybrid and non-traditional courses. In the next part of this series on transitioning education beyond the pandemic, we will explore considerations for teaching and learning in hybrid education.

Continue exploring education beyond the pandemic: read Successful Hybrid Learning, part three of this four-part Beyond the Pandemic series.

Back to Part 1