“THANK YOU!” to the evolution of information and communication technology!

Challenges of Distant Teaching - Prof. Francesco MontaniIt is probably in this hard time, characterized by the lockdown and the social isolation due to the spread of Coronavirus around the world, that most professors can say the greatest “THANK YOU!” to the evolution of information and communication technology. They keep on delivering their courses despite the physical closure of their learning institutions. However, converting “normal” teaching into “distant” learning is not straightforward.

Challenges

Professors might potentially experience several difficulties associated with transferring the course’s contents to students in virtual modalities and, thereby, with ensuring the achievement of the course’s learning goals.

In this regard, one of the most critical challenges is indeed to ensure that the shift from traditional teaching to virtual teaching does not imply the loss of a significant portion of high-quality content, as in the case of lectures delivered through PowerPoint files.

Best Practice Examples

How can we ensure that a high-quality class?

One logical response would be “record your lectures, then!”. Correct. However, are you able to do it in simple and effective ways?

My suggestion is to record, slide by slide, your speech related to the PowerPoint content. As students play this new video file, all your slides will flow accompanied by your speech. As a result, students can have access to all the content and follow it very easily. As a video, it can also be stopped or paused, which helps students take notes without “time pressure.”

Boost Creativity

On a general note, distant teaching poses challenges, but also gives professors the possibility to experiment with new and useful ideas regarding the teaching process and contents.

In working from home, professors have access to a wide variety of information that is not necessarily connected to work (e.g., spending more time looking after children, cooking, and doing various home-related tasks), but could be a powerful source of inspiration for the conception of creative (teaching) ideas.

Learning from Others

Professors might even transfer successful problem-solving strategies or newly experienced activities from the private domain to their work (teaching) domain.

For instance, it is widespread in this period to attend live classes on sport and physical exercises. These online classes could be a great source of inspiration in terms of teaching contents and processes that can be applied in the distant teaching mode.

In my case, I am attending martial art classes with my 3-year son. I am getting useful insights to facilitate the coordination of students’ workgroups, to maintain students’ attention, and to explain some course’s contents. Moreover, working on tasks and solving problems not necessarily connected with the teaching job makes the competition between private and work lifeless pronounced.

I hope my tips will help face the challenges of distant teaching, and for finding positive meaning in our job in a hard time of Coronavirus.

By Francesco Montani, Ph.D.

Professor of Organizational Psychology

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