From the authors: We wish this research project will benefit global educators who are facing challenges while teaching in a completely online environment. 

Jie Qin1,2, Lu Guan1

1. Web Mining Lab, Department of Media and Communication, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China (Hong Kong); 2. School of Liberal Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia, USA

As the COVID-19 pandemic marches around the globe, educators have to face a challenge that is teaching in a completely online environment. Educators in post-secondary settings in China have started teaching in a completely online environment since early February 2020, when we started collecting teaching reflections on ScienceNet.cn, which is the most visible professional blog service for educators in post-secondary settings in China. The total number of users of ScienceNet.cn is around 1 million, among which over 80% of users have senior titles as professors or associated professors (ScienceNet.cn, 2020). Users are required by ScienceNet.cn to register with real names and occupation details like academic ranks, institutions, etc.

Five search queries “网课” “在线教学” “网上教学” “线上教学” “网上授课”  were used to search for educators’ teaching reflections. “网课” is literally translated as “internet courses”, while “在线教学” “网上教学” “线上教学” “网上授课” can be literally translated as “online teaching”. Searches were performed on both an internal search engine and an external search engine. First of all, the search was performed on the internal search engine of ScienceNet.cn, which is powered by Baidu.com, the most used search engine in China. Secondly, the search was performed on Google.com, in order to ensure a broader coverage. We set two selection criteria to evaluation whether a blog entry fits the scope of current research study. The first criterion is that the blog entry must be posted between February 2020 to March 2020, when higher education institutions in China started teaching in a completely online environment as mentioned above. The second criterion is that a blog entry must be a teaching reflection originally created by the author. As a result, non-original blog entries, such as forwarding a piece of news or reposting blog entries created by others, were not included in current research study. Till the end of March 2020, we have collected 54 teaching reflections written by 35 educators on ScienceNet.cn.

We summarized the best practices from the 54 teaching reflections as responses to 6 questions: (1) What to do before class day? (2) What to do before class time? (3) How to lead teaching? (4) How to create engagement? (5) How to provide feedback? (6) How to assess learning? Based on the best practices, we created a checklist of best practices with 6 themes and 15 tasks to help global educators conquer the challenge of teaching in a completely online environment in times of crisis. [Click here to download the PDF version of the “Best practices for teaching in a completely online environment during COVID-19 checklist”. Email corresponding author Dr. Jie Qin at drjqin@gmail.com if you have any questions and/or suggestions with this project. We could offer examples to help you understand the best practices in details. ]

1. BEFORE CLASS DAY

Identify digital divides. Ask questions about whether students have access to the internet, where and how students access internet with what devices, etc., given the fact that digital divides exist.

Test ICT Infrastructure. We highly recommend educators to bear in mind that the speed of internet may drop significantly due to millions of people are using the internet in times of crisis.

Attend training sessions and offer training courses for students.

2. BEFORE CLASS TIME

Enter virtual classroom before class time.

Bring the rituals for on-ground classes to the virtual classroom.

3. LEAD TEACHING

Use a second screen to monitor the class from students’ perspective.

Facilitate learning through various teaching strategies and frequent breaks.

4. CREATE ENGAGEMENT

Call for actions like clicking, speaking, writing, etc.

Appeal to emotions.

Make it a grading opportunity.

Make is competitive.

5. PROVIDE FEEDBACK

Provide timely feedback

Promote additional feedback opportunities through various channels

6. ASSESS LEARNING

Use online collaboration tools to translate assignments into collaborative opportunities between educators and students.

Showcase collective learning outcomes.

References:

ScienceNet.cn. (2020). About us. Retrieved from http://www.sciencenet.cn/aboutus/default.aspx?id=7&type=1

UNESCO. (2020). COVID-19 educational disruption and response. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-emergencies/coronavirus-school-closures