Everyone’s zoomed-out. What’s next for online teaching?

By frannyfrench | 7 May, 2020

Sleeping man with device surrounding face. Image source:  Sleeping TV Man by Evan is licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0.
Sleeping TV Man by Evan is licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0.

Practically overnight, educators around the world made heroic efforts to move everyone to online teaching. At this point, no one’s certain when we’ll get back to face-to-face instruction. So how do we take the next steps to enrich the virtual classroom? Rather than viewing distance education as a temporary stopgap, Hypothesis has always championed how digital practices can elevate teaching and learning — whether we gather on video calls or in person.

As many of us are reckoning with the idea that we might be working, teaching, and learning remotely for months to come, enter a new phenomenon: online-meeting exhaustion. In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Robin DeRosa, director of the Open Learning & Teaching Collaborative at Plymouth State University, and other educators suggest several reasons for the fatigue, including the difficulty of reading body language on screen and monitoring our own appearance — our shaggy, uncut hair; the fact that we’re fresh out of flattering tops; or the secret knowledge that we’re actually still in our pajamas.

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While the burnout is understandable, educators don’t have much choice but to keep calm and carry on online, at least for the summer, maybe the fall, and perhaps even beyond. Now that you’ve got your classes in the LMS, all those video calls on your calendar, and emails flowing between teachers and students, take some next steps to go beyond remote delivery.

Some of our partners have already published comprehensive guides to enrich remote delivery and online learning, like Teach Anywhere sites at CSU Channel Islands, Dartmouth, Indiana University, Stanford, and the University of Oklahoma, and the Online Learning Consortium’s extensive collection, which touches on almost every aspect of teaching and learning.

However you choose to do it, you can transform your online classroom into a dynamic place for teaching and learning. Collaborative annotation is an effective methodology that increases student participation, expands reading comprehension, and builds critical-thinking skills and community in class. Annotating together makes reading active, visible, and social, enabling students to engage with their texts, teachers, ideas, and each other in deeper, more meaningful ways.

We know it’s a cliché at this point, but we are all in this together. Like a lot of other organizations that support educational technology, we’re working to support educators by waiving all fees for educational institutions in 2020. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to make online teaching a better experience for your school and your students.

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