The Most Common Assumptions That Come With Creating an Emergency Online Program

Sometimes, despite the best-laid plans, we have to quickly change course. When training and development professionals, teachers, and administrators are forced to move existing face-to-face classes to an online environment without any notice, they are working under suboptimal conditions. We all know that creating a distance learning course requires time–time for planning, for materials development, and for developing an evaluation framework. However, sometimes the show must go on, and there are three common assumptions that we can avoid making, even when creating a last-minute online course.

1) Thinking the the face-to-face environment has to be re-created
We are in challenging times and a mass migration to online learning isn’t simply recreating the in-person, face-to-face environment you’re used to. For example, replacing a three hour weekly lecture with a three hour live-streamed lecture is going to be exhausting for the teacher and ineffective for the students. Instead of trying to replicate what happens in the classroom, try something new. Replace a video lecture with a collaborative document, where students can post questions and facilitators (and other students) can answer them. Or have students work in small, virtual groups (asynchronously) to answer questions or create collaborative responses to readings. Look for existing lectures, articles, or TED talks on the topics you planned to cover, and have students watch those and post responses to a discussion board, shared document, or email chain. Keep things simple, but keep them collaborative. Establishing a sense of community and collaboration are critical to successful online instruction.

2) Not understanding how technology can enhance the learning process
Technology is ever-advancing and you may be surprised at how many resources are at your fingertips. For instance, Google has long had hangouts, a free feature that lets you easily collaborate using video calls and chat, making interacting in real-time seamless. Moving beyond the desktop computer, think about the technologies that your students are already using.  Start a Facebook group, Whatsapp chat, or even an email chain with all of your learners. Have students contribute to a shared Google document. You can even set up a conference call and have virtual office hours. When you are dealing with an unexpected crisis, it is not the time to invest in learning how to use new technologies that are unfamiliar to you and your students.  Instead, look for ways to communicate with your learners that are already comfortable for them, and build from there.

3) Making it too hard (on yourself and your students)
Lastly, if you don’t have extensive experience implementing an online learning program, don’t be too hard on yourself or your students. COVID-19 has pushed us all into uncharted territory, and we should be as patient with each other as possible. The goal of an emergency online course is to help learners continue to make progress when face-to-face options are limited. As long as your students understand what is expected of them and have the tools to communicate and collaborate, they should be able to make progress even when isolated.

If you have questions about how to transition to online learning, reach out to us. Voxy is here to help.