Over 13,000 teachers and lecturers from 130 countries have signed up for FutureLearn’s free online course to help them teach students during this health crisis.
The 3-week programme, which features contributions from DCU academics, Mark Brown, Mairead Nic Giolla Mhichil and Eamon Costello, started on Monday, 23 March 2020, and has 1,284 Irish educators participating for the next two weeks.
It has been designed to meet the demands of educators continuing to teach from home during the coronavirus outbreak, providing practical learning for those new to teaching online.
This is one of a number of initiatives being offered by DCU to support the move to online teaching.
DCU’s “Teaching Online” course, funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as part of the #OpenTeach project, also started on Monday 23 March 2020, with 450 participants and almost 300 registered interest in the next iteration.
Professor Mark Brown, Director of the National Institute of Digital Learning at DCU, said:
“When DCU hosted the World Conference on online learning back in November 2019, no one amongst the 800 delegates from over 80 countries could have predicted the great hurry over the past week to start teaching online.
“The pivot to rapidly teach online has forced us to think around corners and fast-track the future.”
“One of the best ways to enhance your online teaching skills is to become an online learner yourself.”
While online teaching is keeping our students learning, Mark cautions that we need to be careful that the potential of online education at this challenging time is not being oversold.
His key message is that good online education requires educators to think creatively. How can we go beyond the basics to design creative online learning experiences in ways that might not be possible in a traditional classroom?
“Responding to a crisis is one thing but we may do our learners a great disservice if we fail to appreciate that the design of good online education is complex. As the online classroom becomes our ‘new normal’ educators need to reflect on their initial choices as now is not the time to sit back and say, phew we got online!
“We want to avoid using old 19th Century teaching methods on new 21st Century networks to dump large volumes of undigested information down a digital diameter pipe to relatively passive learners.”
Speaking about the challenges over the weeks ahead, Mark congratulated Irish educators on their incredible response to the hurry to go online and said they need to continue to learn, innovate, and remain open to trying new ideas.
“With this point in mind, on a practical note, one of the best ways of learning to enhance your online teaching skills is to become an online learner yourself.”