May 27, 2020

EdTech and switching to online teaching

The recent sudden and far-reaching shift to online teaching came out of the blue, but was carried out in a rather smooth way. We are somewhat blessed with technology in this matter – even 10 years ago that shift would be unthinkable without modern infrastructure. The whole system would have staggered and then frost. Millions of people in schools and universities, teachers, and students would have had to go on sabbatical, suspend their studies and postpone graduation – all because of the lack of technology. All that would have had an awfully detrimental effect on the world a decade ago, but now it’s different.

While more and more experts now foretell us the future where the distance rules the day. 1.5 meter / 6 feet rules would span groceries and shops, hair salons, and restaurants, not to mention offices and schools. Whereas some firms quickly adjusted themselves to the new reality, their methods of functioning can’t be applied across the board. Especially when it comes to education. We can see that the first steps of lifting quarantine measures in many countries have been the reopening of schools.

Video conferencing is undoubtedly a boon for mass(-scale) education now.  While the question of whether it is sustainable in the long run is still open, we can ruminate on how it changes century-old practices of teaching.

It’s worth noting though, that there’s nothing wrong with online teaching per se. Quite the opposite, it is a wonderful thing. It not only rescues us in dire times, but it is also quite helpful in the normal run of things. It bestows people with great flexibility and connects to the sources of knowledge those who don’t have access to traditional education. But as it is still something novel, there are certain challenges posed by the virtual nature of online teaching.

How online teaching shifts student-teacher communication 

First and foremost, in teaching it all comes down to human interactions. The grid-view of modern video conferencing apps lets us see hundreds of people live on one screen. But that’s basically it. A teacher has to put extra effort and be particularly creative to communicate all the emotions, connotations, and other little things that make up a normal lecture through those tools. The student’s feedback is not of lesser importance! A teacher has to attune him or herself to the class, as well as carefully monitor the mood of the students. It becomes much less of a problem in one-on-one tutoring or classes with a small number of students. For the large classes, however, the new paradigm imposes a barrier.

Then, class activities. They are the backbone of many studies. Work in a laboratory, teamwork activities, cooperation with classmates – all these things create a specialist from a freshman. Oftentimes, students engage in peer revaluation, which is a great activity to learn from assessing classmates. While these activities are hardly replaceable, luckily, there are several digital tools that can bail out a teacher, so it’s not all doom and gloom at least in this aspect.

Last but not least, it might be quite a challenge for a teacher to keep up with students’ progress online. Yes, students still submit their assignments and projects virtually, and a teacher can even draw some conclusions from it. But let’s not forget how crucial the role of in-class participation is for a teacher who wants to keep a hand on the pulse of his or her class. Otherwise, we will come to the point when teachers will sit in ivory towers completely detached from the students and their goals and progress.

A helping hand for computer science

At CodeGrade our mission is to assist teachers, educators, and students, and we take the aforementioned challenges personally. To further lighten the burden of online teaching, we’ve incorporated features in our grading platform that address certain problems discussed in this blog post. While there’s little we can do with transmitting the full spectrum of human emotions over the internet, we have something to offer when it comes to the engagement and maintaining high standards of teaching! 

Firstly, the analytics capabilities of CodeGrade aid CS educators. They provide teachers with detailed reporting on how well students did the assignment. The analytics cover the performance of the whole class, including details of the rubric-wise performance. What’s more, the analytics section is bolstered with reports on the performance of each student! That said, a teacher is able to get an even better overview of the class than if the studies took place offline.

Analytics are critical, but student engagement is the foundation for successful learning. This, coupled with the learning by teaching rule [1] [2], is what will be offered by new CodeGrade functionality this Summer! Very soon, students and teachers will get access to a peer review feature, which will greatly enliven computing education.

Last but not least, our platform simply makes the whole educational process easier and saves time teachers spend on grading. Pick the time which fits you the best, book a demo with us, and in a short live session you will learn how you and your institution can benefit from CodeGrade!

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