During his appearance on Radio-Canada's radio show “It is explained” on September 16, Serge Gérin-Lajoie, professor at TELUQ University, discusses the challenges of distance education. Here is an account of the interesting things to remember from his remarks, taken from his interview and his additional notes.
Teaching face-to-face and remotely: similarities ...
According to Mr. Gérin-Lajoie, face-to-face and distance education are based on the same foundations or the same educational approach. In both cases, students must achieve learning targets and develop their skills through various activities. Verification of the achievement of these targets will be done throughout the process and at the end through evaluation activities. In one or another of the contexts, the teacher must be able to put himself in the shoes of his pupils, who all have different backgrounds of knowledge and experiences. Its role is to identify the needs, the means as well as the resources necessary to enable the students to accomplish the targeted learning.
In class as well as at a distance, the teacher must be able to identify the needs, the means as well as the necessary resources to allow the students to accomplish the targeted learning.
And big differences!
Where there are differences is that in the classroom, a teacher can ask questions to check if the learners understand, walk around the rows of desks to identify who are the ones who are having difficulty, etc. In other words, it can adjust more easily, provide additional information, modify the teaching material quickly, start impromptu discussions, etc.
Distance education involves technological and digital tools, which implies a major adjustment of the means used. For example, in several courses, books, volumes, course notes are used. Are these documents sufficiently complete to allow young people to walk and understand for themselves? "If not, do I have to provide additional documents? If yes, how? Through a website? What will it contain? »Specifies the professor of the education department of the TÉLUQ.
“Another example, do I have to make videos myself to teach at a distance? If so, can I get support from people more qualified than me? What is the maximum length of the video if I want the students to stay focused? ". In addition, there are several elements to consider when using an existing video on the Internet. In addition to validating whether the content is comprehensive enough to promote learning, copyright and use rights are also to be verified.
Mr. Gérin-Lajoie ends with the example of teaching students to make a graph. "Do I have them do it by hand?" If so, how can I get them to learn from a distance? If I suggest that the students do it on a computer or a tablet, how can I be sure that they have the necessary applications? Do they know how to use them? ". All things to think about constantly!
In the same sense, remote interactions are mediated. We communicate through educational material, but also by email, videoconference, text message, through a forum or blog, etc. Distance teaching means planning communication channels that will reach students as well as allowing them to contact the teacher.
The student must be informed of the working methods despite the technical difficulties that may be encountered. Finally, it is important to prepare messages to send to support and accompany students according to their needs, especially those with learning difficulties.