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Distance learning in post-pandemic times. [Part 2]

In this article, we will continue talking about distance learning and best practices. We’ll talk about situational leadership, how to use instructional video production and student interaction, and how to replace ERT for kindergarten and elementary school.

Situational leadership

In the 60s, two scientists Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard wrote the book Management of Organizational Behavior. In it, they first applied the concept of “situational leadership”. 

An effective situational leader considers both the employee's level of training and the particular circumstances they’re in.

Depending on the situation and circumstances, the same leader may behave very differently. That is, they would adapt their leadership style to each subordinate. One employee may be tightly controlled, while another may have complete freedom - simply because everyone requires different working conditions to be productive.

In this method, employees are not divided into useful and useless, with the useless simply fired. Based on their level of competence and motivation, employees are divided into four classes:

D1. High level of motivation and low level of knowledge. This is a new employee who just got a job. This is an enthusiast who is just getting started.

D2. This employee has neither motivation nor knowledge. This may be a beginner enthusiast who studied for a long time but could not get a sufficient level of competencies and therefore became disillusioned with his studies. This is a disillusioned student.

This may be an experienced employee who received a complex task without instructions for implementation.

D3. High level of competence, but low level of motivation. This may be an employee who has been working in the company for a long time but does not receive a promotion, or an employee who has recently mastered the necessary competencies but is not yet confident in himself. He is a capable professional.

D4. The ideal option - knows how and wants to do everything. This is an independent professional.

To apply situational leadership, you need to diagnose the level of your employees.

Those who work with teachers and instructors should use this technique so that they can express themselves fully.

To prevent the teacher from getting bogged down in course development.

This formalized framework reveals truths about human relationships that are universal.

We recommend reading the book by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard or watching videos on the subject. To determine what behavior at what time will bring the greatest result.

It's important to keep in mind that teachers need support as well, especially if you work in a leadership position in the education field and the topic of online learning is relevant to you.

You, as a leader, will have to develop sensitivity to changing needs and adaptation. So you can turn D1, D2 and D3 into D4, that is, competent and motivated teachers, who in turn will engage, motivate and educate their students.

This approach works well for both teachers and students. When the ERT learning model (which can be read in detail in the previous part Distance learning in post-pandemic times. Part 1) became the only possible way to quickly respond to the situation, students needed some flexibility and empathy on the one hand, and the structure of learning, on the other, in order not to fall into despair and keep up with academic performance.

If the course is well designed, it has an inherent balance, which translates into interactive synchronous activities around an asynchronous core curriculum.

University support centers are wondering if they should focus on introducing DIY for educators, where they will be more self-introduced, or should they still focus more on quality video production with professional accompaniment. There’s also an option to go with the hybrid method and use both approaches. 

Every teacher has a chance to become an expert in online learning if they master the video format. Investing in equipment will also increase this chance, and even without assistants, the teacher would be able to film the lesson if everything is organized properly.

Another option is to use slides compiled by the teacher for a face-to-face lesson, but slightly adapt them for better perception in a micro-lecture format. That is, short educational videos (less than 10 minutes) that cover one specific topic or skill.

There is more to preparing online courses than meets the eye. Using video, for example, allows you to take your students to places they wouldn't be able to reach otherwise. Lessons can be filmed directly in the factories, places like bakeries, production studios, laboratories.

All these methods are useful until the teacher finds their presenting style and tone of voice, and then they no longer need additional training.

In fact, all of the above are stages, and when the pandemic began, everyone was automatically assigned to the last - independent. That's where the problems began.

It is necessary to collect feedback from educators, get their opinions on what needs improvement, understand where they are in the process of getting involved, and act on that information to address the arising issues promptly. This can be done either by providing full production support, or partial, providing a room, lighting for filming, taking care of acoustics, as well as conducting appropriate briefing.

Remote communication imposes its own challenges

The running-in process also revealed that ERT is completely useless for kindergarten and lower grades.

For a better understanding of why, let's examine what kindergarten and elementary are meant to do : 

  • Children learn to respect others by reacting to the classroom environment.

  • Teachers and school staff carefully take care of the pupils while the parents are at work.

  • Children gain basic skills to move to other classes.

However, the first two functions were unsatisfactory during the quarantine, when educational institutions closed. And the third was performed poorly.

Government data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show large learning gaps. This was especially true for those who were already poorly educated.

However, younger students still have the chance to catch up with progress, while older students had to graduate with incomplete education. In the immediate post-graduation period, economic conditions were challenging for these graduates.

As a result of these two years of isolation, children have forgotten how to communicate effectively. Long hours behind the screen are also contributing to this, 7 hours of classes on average, even an adult can hardly endure that. As the younger generation grows up, mental problems will exacerbate.

Teachers, too, are traumatized by what is happening, with half (55%) ready to change careers. This information was published by the National Education Association.

The reasons for such dramatic changes are the lack of support from management, disrespect for them as specialists in their field, and an unsafe environment.

Another reason is testing, the results of which are submitted to the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress). The creative part of teaching has been lost or almost dried up within this teaching system, according to a number of teachers.

What is the result? There’s not enough teachers.

So what systems could help to fix the online educational process? Traditional online courses still have a chance, according to experts. An example of this is the Skyline curriculum.

This program was developed before the pandemic, but only launched in 2021. It includes video lectures and complies with government standards.

Skyline includes fully formulated courses in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and two world languages (Spanish and French). In addition, Skyline includes standards-compliant areas and sequences in arts education across the four arts disciplines.

It may be that the program's success is due to the fact that it was developed for the northern region, where schools are closed on snowy days. This is why asynchronous training sessions are taken into consideration. This program also includes video conferencing software if needed.

There is a place in this program for both a clear structure and support for students' social-emotional learning, and cultural responsiveness.

However, this is more of an exception than a rule. Unfortunately, despite the growth of home education, the online education niche still cannot quite cope with serving its audience.

Is Callaba Cloud suitable for distance learning?

As a service provider, we cannot address most of the systemic issues raised over the years, but we can provide you with a service to create and perfect online classes worldwide or in your region, without being distracted by the technical side of the process.

Callaba Cloud’s features that would be useful for online education : 

  • Low latency streaming, so that communication between students and teachers remains truly interactive. 

  • Web Player and Embedding. You can embed Callaba’s player to your website or platform and set up an authorization form for protection and record taking.

  • Password protected streaming. Protect your valuable unique content from prying eyes.

  • Unlimited recording. You can record online lessons for future use. 

To see what you can do with Callaba, try our 5-day free trial on AWS.

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