With the Coronavirus forcing more and more schools and universities to suspend lessons, it has prompted many institutions to look at moving their face to face training online. It can take teams of individuals to move this type of training online, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. My advice? Keep it simple!
Academics are having to quickly adapt their training to an online audience. I’ve seen so many stories online which outline the various software packages that are being used to help deliver online content. There was one post in particular where Soundcloud, Google Hangouts, Skype AND Microsoft Teams were all being used. This is NOT a good approach, not only will you have to learn all these individual pieces of software, your students will have to as well. This opens you up to multiple points of failure which you don’t really need when you’re pressed for time to get lessons up and running.
Keep it simple – keep IT simple!
Most software applications have multiple functionalities, for example, Microsoft Teams. If you’re using Teams then use the built-in call function, there’s no need to use skype as well. Teams can also be set up to host documents and audio files as well. The same can be said with other applications such as Slack and Google Docs, they are multi-functional.
Keep your software application list simple and to a minimum. This will help you to quickly get things up and running minimising the risk of potential issues. Remember that purchasing new software is not always a fix. If you need to record audio, operating systems usually come with a built-in recorder. Need to edit audio? You can download audacity for free. Explore what you have available in your arsenal already. This will save time and money.
What if you’re restricted by what you can do due to IT policies? In this instance, talk to your IT department! Discuss your needs. They may already have a solution for you. I worked in IT for many years, there is nothing worse than a request from a manager asking for a new shiny piece of overly expensive conferencing software that has too many features, most of which won’t be used. Most of the time IT already have something in place. Don’t get blindsided by the sales pitch and the flashing lights and colours. Again if your IT department already has something, the likeliness is there is already someone on site who knows how to use the application too.
My recommendation is to take time to plan. Take your face to face lesson and classify each section. Work out which parts can be actioned straight away – for example, can you record a lecture and make it available? Perhaps activities need to be forum based group work instead, in this case do you already have a VLE/LMS you can use to host this?
There may be some sections you have to postpone until a longer-term solution is developed. For example, if you teach beauty therapy, maybe you perform a demonstration, then ask the students to perform the same task whilst assessing their performance. It’s not impossible, you could record your demonstration, ask the student to watch it then record their own demonstration. However, there are health and safety considerations to take into account here and logistically there are things that can go wrong (this is where blended learning is really the better solution). But the more you plan and work out what you need and what you don’t need, the easier a quick transition will be.
There has been a gradual shift in organisations and institutions moving their face to face training online. The coronavirus outbreak has prompted many to make the move quicker than anticipated. Many organisations and institutions are not ready for the move and are struggling to quickly to turn face to face lessons into online material. After all, online learning often takes a team of people to develop and another team of people to get it online! However it’s not impossible. Take time out to plan, analyse what you already have at your disposal and keep it simple.