The outbreak of coronavirus, resulting in temporary closures of many educational institutions, has forced teachers to rely entirely on distance learning or so called “remote learning” whose roots go back to as early as 1728 when “Caleb Phillips” advertised private correspondence courses in short hand in the Boston Gazette (1). With no access to the Internet, with no applications like Zoom or Google Classroom, it defined “remote” as “beyond physical classroom spaces”. Knowing that it is not feasible to spend several hours in a live online class, maybe the time has finally come to reshape/redesign/rethink the concept of remote learning.
The Importance of Asynchronous Learning
Although face-to-face online contact is extremely important in remote learning as it boosts class dynamics, reduces isolation and gives sense of normality, it is the asynchronous mode through which my students’ learning, in a traditional sense, is taking place. The biggest advantage of asynchronous learning is its flexibility and convenience:
- you can use various format of materials (text, video, audio, pre-recorded video clips, interactive exercises etc.)
- you can utilise various learning tools such as VLE (e.g. Google Classroom), collaborative platforms (popplet, padlet, Google docs, slides etc.) or online portolios (G-Drive or OneDrive)
- materials can be tailored to students’ different learning preferences and/or additional needs
- students learn at their own pace
- it is almost entirely student-led learning experience as they will decide what to brush up on and what to skip
The Best Tools For Asynchronous Learning/Teaching
Blendspace from TES is a platform enabling teachers to digitally connect materials of various formats (audio, videos, images, text documents or presentations) to create an interactive lesson. Students can be invited to join Blendspace in order to interact by answering questions, doing quizzes, writing short responses or collaborating with others. It’s a fantastic tool if you want to flip your classes. Blendspace is available on all devices including smartphones. You can share it with students as well as other teachers willing to collaborate.
A very good tutorial from Technology for Teachers and Students
Mental health of your students as well as your own should be of the utmost important in this challenging time. We all feel scared and anxious, , anxious and concerned. Below, some ideas of what you might consider doing with your students.
Creating a collaborative presentation on tips how to stay mentally fit and healthy during the lockdown.
Mindfulness 5-day challenge: each class day will start or finish with the mindfulness challenge.
Infographic summarising students’ live (online) discussion on what to do when they feel anxious about the current situation. The visual was created in easel.ly
The art of chocolate eating worksheet from MindSpace.
Mindful eating worksheet from James Madison University.
Reading comprehension activity on mindfulness from British Council.
Starting questions for a conversation about mental health from The Internet TESL Journal.
Mind metaphor from Headspace.
Mountain meditation from Fablefy.
Anxiety cycle from Therapist Aid.
Mindfulness from KeltyMentalHealth.