We are in the middle of a pandemic. Many schools and institutions of higher learning are struggling to navigate next steps for their students, instructors, staff, and families. At this point, we’re really trying to mitigate risk. Is it riskier to keep students at home and deal with the fallout from not meeting the academic and social needs of our most vulnerable populations? Or is it riskier to bring students back on campus and have to manage the outbreaks of Covid-19 that will inevitably occur? These are hard times for everybody involved in education.
If I could wave a wand and go back to “precedented” times, I would.
But I can’t. So here’s what I have to offer.
If you are an educator planning for the upcoming year or semester, my biggest pro-tip for you is to create one plan: asynchronous online.
Let me explain why.
- If you’re teaching face-to-face or hybrid, you can use the online content in your instructor-led teaching, just as you would any other material. It not only provides a framework for your students who are in the classroom with you, it also helps to keep students who have to miss class up-to-date without a lot of heavy lifting on your part. AND if you have to move to a virtual environment midway through the semester, your students will already have experience working within the learning management system that you have set up.
- If you’re doing a hyflex model (where you’re teaching the same class both online and in person at the same time), this helps to add continuity for students in the class, regardless of where they’re learning.
- If you’re teaching a synchronous class online, you still need a way to organize your materials, and planning an asynchronous class with your synchronous meetings embedded in it might be the way to go. Because of time constraints, time zone differences, family responsibilities, and all of the #GarbageFireLife that goes with Covid-19, some of your students will not be able to attend your synchronous class times – no matter how well-intentioned they are. Record the synchronous meetings, share them in your LMS, and call it a day.
This is not a perfect solution. But this IS an opportunity for all of us to play with our teaching models to figure out a system that is more equitable, more accessible, and, well, better for our students in general. There are ways to build in classroom discussions, empathetic pedagogies, rigor, and relevance, and most – if not all – of the pieces that we’re most concerned about maintaining in our classrooms can be woven in.
If you’re on a college campus and need help with this, talk to your instructional-design teams. If you’re teaching in a K-12 school environment, reach out to your instructional coaches and/or technology directors.
And if you need a coach to guide you through the process or bounce ideas off of, touch base with me.