Most of us prefer what we know, the traditional or preferred method of doing things. They are comfortable and we know what we are getting. Teaching is no difference. For hundreds of years, students and teachers have interacted mostly face to face. There have been instances where learning have been done through other methods, but these have always been the exception rather than the norm.
Many of us prefer to meet face to face as its the best way to get the vibes and the warmth of people. We are social being and designed to be so. We can read the body language, feel the aura of the person, shake their hands, hug them, if possible and most importantly, face to face interactions let us gauge their personalities. There is something about meeting people face to face that is difficult to replicate on the phone or online. There is no substitute for forming personal relationships (in normal times), but we now need to find substitutes, if meeting people directly in this Covid-19 era can lead to infections and sickness. So until we find a better way of meeting without spreading the virus, then we must stay apart no matter how difficult.
There are some instances that nothing can replace meeting with family members, friends and loved ones, I do understand that.
Having said that, we now need to find new ways of interacting.
What are the best ways for people to interact and engage in learning without physical presence? But most of us have considered or are aware of the idea of working from home or teaching online, the pandemic just happen to enforce it. Now it is here to stay. Hewlett Packard and many large organisations for many years tried to get staff to work from home to reduce accommodation costs, but many other companies were not so keen then.
Now to teaching. What do we do when we have to learn online?. The teacher may not be able to see us and we may get distracted as well. Class participation is important in that case. We need to be sure that we give our full attention. Learning reciprocity means that there is a feedback from the learner. It can be difficult with broadband sometimes being unstable or the microphone and computers having minds of their own but being able to feed back and participate in the learning process is important. It means the teacher can understand what you are thinking and you understand what the teacher is trying to get across as well.
Learning online has several advantages such as not having to travel, savings on the environment, attendance seems to get better. But there are the disadvantages of loneliness and lack of contact, team working may also be sacrificed. But we must embrace what we have and make the best use of the circumstances we find ourselves. One thing is certain, we are not going to get back to the old normal in a hurry.
The pandemic may make us change for the better.
A few times I have reversed the role of being a teacher, but I am a permanent learner, but now I am facing my biggest challenge, learning a new language (Spanish from scratch). I struggle with languages and at every opportunity, I have avoided speaking a foreign language. Despite travelling to Poland for more than 5 years, I could barely remember any Polish phrases. This time I am determined to face this difficult challenge. This is tough, so it must be done and you guessed it, online.
The die is cast. Must be fluent in Spanish within 12 months. Wish me luck.
What are your thoughts?