Before COVID, we educators and trainers had this:
And then, early in 2020, we didn’t. All we had was this:
A rectangle. Our laptop screen, monitor, phone or tablet. The space in which we had to teach, to learn, to train, communicate, have fun.
And then, once we’d picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off, we made it work. Here’s what we did with our rectangles:
We opened up the world. We connected, we innovated, we created. We struggled, became frustrated and we persevered through fear, anger, and through a time of simply not knowing what to do – or how – and we got there.
But from the start, a dubious benchmark emerged. Teachers feared it, politicians didn’t understand it and parents used it as a yardstick (stick): The quality of online learning was sometimes judged – erroneously – by the quantity of live lessons.
Some folks embraced live teaching, others fought it – still do – but in my opinion the debate is mis-aligned. If we aspire to teach live online, replacing a day in school with a day on screen, then we miss a huge opportunity.
Puentadura’s model explains why. Aspiring to teach live is substitution. The professional focus is on replicating what you do in school. You’ll miss the vast opportunities that technology offers. You’ll not think to augment, modify or even redefine learning. You’ll fill your rectangle with the same pedagogy which pervaded your classroom.
I’m not saying don’t ever teach live. I’m saying that substitution is only the start of innovation. And if you want to improve your teaching, innovate with the tools that have come your way: Teams, Zoom, Connect, Blackboard, Basecamp, Slack, Padlet, Mentimeter, Desmos, Kialo-edu, Mural, Google Classroom, Remnote, Jamboard, GSuite Apps, Trello to name just 16.
Here’s the kind of blended approach I’m coming across in UK schools:
- Confirm house rules and expectations (behaviour, interaction, technical).
- Clarify risk assessment and safeguarding practices.
- Begin the day with a live check-in and tasking session.
- Set pupils to work, emphasizing the skills they’ll use to gain the knowledge required.
- Open up themed breakout rooms where pupils can collaborate.
- Open up a shared online space where learning is posted and where pupils get ideas.
- Invite pupils to present their learning using a choice of five online platforms.
- Schedule a short, interactive lecture from an expert in another part of the world.
- Make yourself available for asynchronous chat support.
- Take smaller groups aside for extra help, challenge or alternative provision.
- Meet live at the end of the morning/afternoon to share work and to check out.
Please do teach live online if that’s your style or you’ve been directed to. But please don’t miss the wonderful opportunities to not teach live all the time that have appeared in our rectangles over the last year. Then maybe, when we do go back to school, vaccinated and resilient, we’ll be even better at what we do – adding value to the future.