Online studies have taken the world by storm, especially in the wake of Covid-19. For millions of students around the world, online studies are the only way to gain education, at least for now. But even when the pandemic will be over, online studies will be here to stay. It puts the online learning providers under additional responsibility to reach everyone and benefit them equally. It is a daunting task, and here are some ways where online learning providers can help those students who are struggling online.
Don’t be technologically intensive:
It might sound oxymoronic because, after all, online studies are dependent on technology, but learning providers need to understand that not everybody has equal access to technology. Try to make your e-learning portal as straightforward as possible. Make it compatible with most of the operating systems and not necessarily the latest versions. Do not overly rely on zoom calls etc. The strength of internet signals varies from place to place; instead, they reach out to the students via ‘old-school methods’ of emails. These measures will help students who are struggling because they do not have modern gadgets and technology.
Apply a proactive approach:
Online studies may seem like a passive mode of imparting education with little or no interaction. But it ought not to be like that. Instead, the providers must adopt a proactive approach. It should involve anything and everything that will involve more interaction, feedback, and performance appraisal. In this way, the learning providers can take all the students with them, the limitations of online studies notwithstanding. The input and assessments will help make adjustments when needed and not before it becomes a significant problem.
Rigid rules and regulations should not bind online studies. The students should be given ample room for experimentation and be given freedom of choice. Rules regarding attendance, grading, participation, communication, etc., should not be as rigid as they are in a regular classroom. There are different dynamics for an online classroom, and they should be dictated by separate rules that the teachers may sparingly apply for the betterment of students. Teachers must be discouraged from giving harsh punishments to the students by the learning providers.
Experiment with different learning materials:
Online studies should not be confined to lectures only. Students are learning via computer screens, so the providers should give friendlier learning material to their screens. The use of videos, graphics, infographics, charts, animations, and, if possible virtual and augmented reality should be encouraged and promoted. Students can benefit immensely from such materials. It will help those students that find mere lectures dull and dry. The teachers should use anything that is intellectually stimulating and inspires the students to learn in imparting education.
Spaced learning techniques:
Spaced learning technique implies that there should be a considerable gap between learning over time. Students can absorb more information when learning is spaced between intervals by the instructors. Online courses should follow this technique and design their format to get ample rest between their studies. There is no one-solution-fits-all assumption here. The teacher needs to experiment with his learning techniques and check their efficacy. However, breaking down study material into smaller chunks and assessing what the students have learned before going to the next piece helps improve student retention.
Start with a pilot project:
The e-learning providers should start with a pilot project before they go full-blown with it to make your online course successful. The pilot project will allow them to remove any loopholes in it in the light of feedback from the students. It will also help control the cost of the online courses and devise a targeted product for the student.
Hiring better teachers:
Online learning providers can enhance the students’ learning experience and help those struggling with it by hiring better skilled and qualified teachers. The teachers must be initiative-driven, highly disciplined, excellent time managers, and of course, well conversant with technology for online learning. These should take along the entire class and help students who need special attention and extra effort. Teachers should build an online environment that should facilitate both the teachers and students. They should challenge their cognitive skills instead of just transferring knowledge to them.
Providing “offline support”:
It includes providing students with as many resources and tools that they can use offline as well—for example, providing recordings of the lecture that the students can watch offline too—giving them the facility of downloading any vital resource in pdf or other formats that they can view and partake in their spare time. All these facilities can help those students who are slow learners and require repeat learning support.
Offering free internet/hotspots:
Online studies are often hindered by a lack of stable and reliable internet connections. Where possible, the providers can help students by offering them internet connections that are free or subsidized. It can also provide a Wi-Fi hotspot; for example, a university may provide this facility for anyone taking an online course within its premises. This arrangement is not easy to achieve, but where possible, the learning providers can employ it. Students suffering because of slow or erratic internet connections may benefit significantly from this service.
Online group presentations:
They are a great way to assess the capabilities of a student in an online environment. Online group presentations are not favored as much as they are in a regular class format. They provide an excellent opportunity for the teacher to judge the understanding of a student on a concept. He can do that in a short time as compared to checking them individually. Later he can compile a report and determine which students lack and help them work on their weaknesses.
The above were some of the methods by which online learning providers can help students struggling in their studies. These measures will help them in identifying the weak students and their particular areas of weaknesses. Online lessons are here to stay, and it is about time the providers adopt these measures for practical and better dispensing of online education.