5 ways to prioritize student success in a pandemic

This story about focusing on student success during the pandemic, originally published on April 1, was eCN’s No. 1 most popular story of 2020. Check back in early January for our 2021 predictions.

The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting social distancing has led hundreds of schools and universities to move their instruction online. For students and educators who are comfortable with in-person learning and instruction, this rush to online education may be overwhelming. Fortunately, we live in a digital era where both students and educators are familiar with digital tools.

If you’re leaning into the discomfort of this change to your normal routine, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that traditional classroom settings and virtual classroom settings are similar—they’re just different mediums.

Related content: Transitioning to online learning

Here are a few tips and tricks to support student success in online education if you’re an instructor learning this new way of teaching.

1. Find ways to be interactive

In a normal classroom setting students and educators are able to interact seamlessly, asking questions and promoting discussion. Nothing says you can’t do the same in an online learning environment through the use of digital tools like online forums, web chats, and social channels.


3 ways remote learning has forever changed my instruction

This story about how remote learning has changed one educator’s instruction forever, originally published on July 7, was eCN’s No. 2 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

The world has changed–and the fact is that all of our lives have been disrupted. And right now one of the most affected sectors is education, as students take finals on their kitchen tables or graduate from their living rooms, and teachers wrap up the semester with virtual goodbyes.

As the school year comes to an end, educators are looking at how our classrooms have changed over the past few months and the various possibilities of what the future of learning will hold.

Related content: Stepping away from technology to avoid burnout

And while my school, like many, has not made its final decision on how learning will take place in the fall, I’ve taken an opportunity to look back at the successes with online learning to understand how my class will forever be changed, for the better.

My biggest takeaway: Hybrid instruction is here to stay.

Traditionally, hybrid learning is defined as the combination of face-to-face and online delivery of course materials. The disruption of COVID-19 meant that all the face-to-face interactions for my classes took place online. However, I find that offering a blend of asynchronous and synchronous instruction has been key to the success of my virtual classroom.


7 big trends in education for 2020

This story about key 2020 trends for schools, originally published on March 18, was eCN’s No. 3 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

A few years from now, we may look back at 2020 and recognize a watershed moment for education. With many schools facing increasing danger from changing demographics, we’re at a point where some of the business models underlying higher education are going to start to shift.

At the same time, technology is changing not just how schools function on a institutional level, but how we approach education inside (and increasingly, outside) the classroom. Here are 7 trends to watch for in higher education in 2020.

Related content: 4 reasons video in education is critical to the future

1. Schools will need to fight to enroll the students they want. There will be a drop in the number of available students over the next decade because of demographics in general, but this will be especially pronounced in the US because of the current foreign policy. The new hurdles and scary headlines have made coming to the U.S. for college significantly more intimidating and less appealing, which will dry up the pool of international students that has helped keep some schools afloat.

[Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared on the Kaltura blog and is reposted here with permission.]


4 ways to embrace online teaching during COVID

This story about embracing online teaching, originally published on March 17, was eCN’s No. 4 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

Growing numbers of colleges and universities are shuttering their doors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In turn, educators have had to respond by taking their courses online within a matter of days. Many of them lack experience teaching online and are now scrambling to figure out how to make remote classes work for their courses.

Related content: 5 tools to create an engaging online course

The good news: Online teaching and learning can be just as effective as an in-person classroom. We talked to several educators who were able to respond quickly to school shutdowns and move their classes online. They shared their tips and best practices on how to do so successfully.

Be present with the right tools

Whether you’re using remote conferencing software like Zoom or Google Hangouts to live-stream your lectures or post slides in an online classroom, your personal teaching style can get muddled, especially if you are used to interacting regularly with your students. The divide between students and professors can become heightened in online classes, making it all the more important to ensure you remain accessible and within easy reach.


10 best practices for great online learning

This story about best practices for online learning, originally published on April 28, was eCN’s No. 5 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

Switching from teaching in-person to teaching online presents both unique challenges and opportunities. At Relay Graduate School of Education, we run an online campus alongside our in-person campuses and came up with 10 practical tips from our veteran online faculty to support those making the switch to the online environment for live online learning instruction.

Related content: 3 ways to stay connected when going remote

1. Prepare links to your materials and share with your students in advance. This ensures students have what they need and can revisit resources later if needed. Also, this step can preempt any challenges that would otherwise come up during class.

2. Utilize a small group feature to get folks talking and engaging during class. As the facilitator, you can pop into different groups–just like walking around your classroom–to join in.


Is face-to-face learning always better than online learning?

This story, which debates whether online learning might be better than face-to-face, was originally published on August 28 and was eCN’s No. 6 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

Much of the recent argument raging about reopening schools rests on the quality of online instruction. That’s understandable. However, there’s much about online instruction that remains misunderstood. It’s time to change that…

In my 50-year teaching career, I had the opportunity to create and teach online courses, an experience that sheds light on this debate. For starters, I can attest to that the quality of online instruction will improve as instructors and students become more familiar with it and engage with it more, and that if a program is a bit awkward at first, that awkward or clunky nature shouldn’t be used as a reason to physically reopen schools.

Related content: 4 recommendations for online learning in the fall

When the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business decided to offer an Online MBA degree, our first priority was to create the highest quality program possible. To achieve this goal, we built the online MBA program to feature weekend residence sessions at the beginning and end of each term, and synchronous video classes for each course. Synchronous video is like a Zoom conference.


4 recommendations for online learning

This story about online learning recommendations, originally published on August 10, was eCN’s No. 7 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

A new resource from Indiana University (IU) offers a look at some of the most important factors that make online learning a success.

When IU closed physical classes and moved to online instruction, the eLearning Research and Practice Lab started work to gauge undergraduate students’ and instructors’ online learning experiences via a full-census survey.

Related content: Lessons in teaching touch-based therapies remotely

While the trends and recommendations that emerged from that survey aren’t intended to evaluate the university’s online learning success, they do play an important role in helping stakeholders gain insight into the practices and policies that may help to guide their planning for fall.

Recommendation 1: Assign classwork judiciously, and in alignment with clear learning goals.

According to the research: “While this recommendation is generally applicable to all teachers, it is of paramount importance during remote instruction. Most students responding to the study reported increases in classwork volume, and in the effort required to complete it, paired with a decrease in their understanding of the course’s learning goals and a great many references to large amounts of “busy work” in open-ended comments. For instance, 73% of students agreed that it took more effort to complete their assigned work after the transition to remote instruction, and many reported high anxiety due to ballooning numbers of deadlines and assignments.”


10 tips for a great online class

This story on designing a great online class, originally published on April 9, was eCN’s No. 8 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

So, all your classes just went online, and your students are turning to you for technical as well as emotional support. Your institution may be scrambling to get each online class up and running, but you don’t have to scramble.

You can help the transition go more smoothly with some sage advice to give your students on how they can succeed in the digital classroom. Here are 10 online class tips to share with students:

1. Don’t be a stranger. Ask your students to log into their courses every day. Yes, every day. You may be sending out announcements, posting assignments, and responding to discussion forums every day. Remind students that it’s not enough to check in three times a week, as they normally would. Encourage them to be vigilant with their school-issued email accounts. If not, they will surely miss a deadline or some positive feedback they might have received on one of their brilliant posts to the discussion board!

Related content: 5 ways to focus on student success in a pandemic

2. Open sesame. Seems basic, but caution students to remember their passwords to Blackboard, Canvas, or any other learning management system (LMS) that your school may use. Maybe your institution has 24/7 tech support or a “forgotten password” function. If so, you are lucky. But, if not, warn students that they don’t want to try to log in to the LMS at 11 p.m. only to find out that they can’t get into the system until the help desk opens at 9 a.m. the next day.


6 mental health resources to help college students during COVID

This story on mental health resources to help support students during remote learning, originally published on April 14, was eCN’s No. 9 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

Colleges and universities across the globe have closed campuses and moved instruction online in an attempt to stop community spread of the novel coronavirus.

Many students find themselves back home with family, quarantining while their campuses remain physically shut down. Others may be out of work and worrying about finances on top of attending online classes. Still others are international students who might not be able to return home.

According to researchers at the University of California, Irvine, many people experience psychological distress resulting from repeated media exposure to the crisis.

Related content: Adapting to online learning for the coronavirus

“It’s a public health paradox that has been identified during and in the aftermath of other collective stressors, such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak,” says Roxane Cohen Silver, UCI professor of psychological science. “In the case of the current coronavirus, people may perceive it as higher in risk because it’s novel, compared to other viruses such as the more common influenza. This can increase worry that may be disproportionate in terms of the actual chance of contracting the illness.”


Leveraging tech to adapt to the new normal

This story on leveraging tech as education moves forward during COVID, originally published on June 11, was eCN’s No. 10 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.

After months of being closed due to mandatory isolation measures, colleges across the world prepare to welcome students to campus once again as fall semester approaches.

However, the virus has not yet been defeated, and this comes with considerable risk for universities entering the new normal–especially as there is a chance of a resurgence of COVID-19 at the end of the fall.

Related content: Online proctoring with trust, transparency, and fairness

As a result, universities are exploring a variety of new processes to support admissions, course delivery, and examination in order to minimize risk. Technology will play a key role in how colleges deliver their courses in the months ahead.

Here’s how universities can leverage technological solutions to adapt to these new circumstances while maintaining efficiency and improving student experience.

Take the admissions process 100 percent online

The worst of the pandemic might have passed, but universities must still take precautions and minimize unnecessary social contact during the admissions process. By allowing applicants to complete assessments and interviews online, colleges can minimize health risks by reducing the number of people on campus.