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Remote Learning – Unexpected Opportunities

Posted: June 25, 2020 — In the past, the adoption of technology in the classroom which included making use of a Learning Management System (LMS) to manage student’s homework, labs, quizzes, tests and grades was slow to take hold. This is understandable since there is usually a waiting period to see if the new software really takes hold and is useful. Often the question is asked is why change? The paper and pencil method has worked for generations.

The answer is, the students have changed. Students these days are well versed in technology. They all know how to use a cell phone and navigate the internet. Communicating via a video chat is now commonplace. Come to think of it, this even makes Get Smart’s Maxwell Smart & Agent-99’s technology obsolete since they could only is use a shoe phone to make a phone call!

Remote Learning - Shoe Phones
The ability to reach students when teaching them goes back to effectively communicating to them. It just makes sense to make available the same methods of communication in the classroom which are currently used by most students. This doesn’t mean abandoning traditional teaching methods. Instead, it means complementing these methods with technology. The Electrical Technology classes taught at FMCC make use of three approaches to teaching, Traditional, Remote and Blended.

The ‘Traditional’ approach to teaching utilizes paper and pencil to teach subjects and is defined as synchronous, meaning the students and the instructor meet on a set schedule. This method works reasonably well assuming students can make it to class and there is no pandemic like COVID-19.

The ‘Remote’ approach to teaching, utilized by our Electrical Technology program, was implemented in such a way that the student(s) and instructor meet virtually on a set schedule using video conferencing software. This is the method that was used by the program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ‘Blended’ approach, which was used by the Electrical Technology faculty pre COVID-19, is a combination of ‘Traditional’ brick and mortar classroom teaching and ‘Remote’ teaching. This entails the instructor utilizing video meeting software in the classroom when holding class. The students in the brick and mortar classroom can see and hear and talk to the students who are accessing the class remotely. Think of it like a large video conference call. This is really the best of both worlds. Students who can make it to class, go to class, while other students who cannot make it to class due to work or being single parent with a sick child, for example, can attend remotely. Employers like this method since employees can attend classes with less time away from their job.

Overall, the teaching method which makes use of technology is useful for the student since the skills utilized in these teaching methods will obviously be needed in the work force. We all hope nothing like COVID-19 happens again however we should all be ready just in case.

This article was written by Roger Young, an Instructor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

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