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Study reveals what’s working, what isn’t, with virtual learning

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 2:14 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - A St. Norbert College professor has co-authored a published study that analyzes virtual teaching techniques amid the pandemic.

As schools and colleges moved classes online last spring, Dr. Laura Krull had a burning question.

“I really wanted to know for myself what was working well, what wasn’t working so well, but then as I was starting to get information from my students it became clear that some of that data would be really useful, not just for myself as I look forward to this uncertain fall semester, but for other instructors as well,” says Dr. Krull.

With the help from a colleague, Dr. Krull surveyed students about different instructional techniques being used and identified three main points.

“Our first major finding was that what matters most is not necessarily what instructional technique you’re using, so by that we mean are you using live Zoom classes, are you using discussion boards online, so it matters less which of those you choose, but it matters more how successfully instructors implement it,” says Dr. Krull.

Another important finding is that there’s a balance between enjoyability and accessibility.

“So we’re really encouraging professors and instructors to sort of keep in mind that enjoyability and accessibility both matter, but we need to be aware of potential tradeoffs that might exist when we’re making our decisions. A lot of students reported encountering technology issues, internet issues and so even though they knew that they were enjoying those, it was presenting a barrier to students,” says Dr. Krull.

Which ties in to the third major finding, that a high percentage of students reported more anxiety and distractions due to COVID-19.

So what does that mean for your virtual classroom this fall?

“Don’t get caught up in using the newest, flashiest technology, really think about what your learning objectives are as the instructor, think about your own strengths and familiarity,” says Dr. Krull, which in turn, she adds, can best set your students up for success.

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