Coming back to classrooms in the present order of things means, for most of us, coming back to face an altered reality that involves online, distance, or blended learning. One of the most important concerns teachers express in this “new normal”, is how to engage students in online environments.
As it happens in face-to-face instruction, the level of engagement in an online environment is directly connected to the way in which the class is conducted as well as to the level of motivation of the students. Methodology and motivation are central in the virtual classroom.
A methodology based on clear objectives, that invites students to interact with each other and with the teacher, is the one that seems to be most effective. If the teacher allocates spaces for questions and collaborative reflective tasks, the class will have better chances to succeed. For this, the aim is to create effective learning communities where students find the motivation they need to take charge of their own learning. We cannot give students motivation in the same way we cannot learn for them. However, we can create an environment where students feel each one of them matters and everyone can contribute (See Palloff & Pratt, 2009)
Coming back to our classrooms, in whichever shape they take, the main question to ask is: how will my students interact with me, the material and their classmates? This will help us prepare our lessons and we might find that what we have now is an invaluable opportunity to reexamine methodology and motivation.
Laura A. Meza M. Ed. RSA Dip.
Laura has been a teacher for 30 years and has centered her interest on teacher education for more than 25. She currently lives in Long Beach, California where she writes and edits textbooks, besides designing and delivering online or face-to-face teacher education programs.