Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Thank you, Melinda. So hi, everyone. I'm going to be sharing my screen. Thank you for joining us. I am very excited to present today. So we're going to be discussing best practices for teaching online. My name is Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo, and I work at several agencies, actually. And I'm also a student at USC. I'm currently working on my doctorate in Online Learning. So I'm going to just be sharing some empirical research and some best practices that we know work out in the field.
So I wanted to get started with a quote. And it says, "Technology will never replace great teachers. But technology in the hands of a great teacher can be transformational." So that's one of the things that I've learned just teaching online. I've been teaching online for the last six years. And I do a flipped classroom setting, where my students do all of the learning online, and we just meet once a week for labs. So that's what I've been focusing on for the last couple of years, just trying to figure out ways on how I can engage my students, what are the best practices online, and how I can get my students to be actively involved in their learning.
So today's agenda, we're going to be reviewing empirical best practices in online teaching. And then as we go along, feel free to ask questions. I want this to be more of an interactive presentation, where we can learn from each other and share best practices that we're using as well. So feel free to ask any questions as we go through. So as we go through, we want to discuss how we can apply these best practices in our classroom.
OK, so I'm going to get started. So one of the first practices that we know we need to have in the online setting is, we need to be present in the course. So the liberal use of instructors' use of communications tools are going to be important to use, such as announcements, the discussion board, postings, the forums to communicate with students, those are going to be important, because that is what shows our students that we care about their questions. So unlike in an in-class setting where you present yourself every day and they can see you, in an online setting the only way they can see you is if you're actually interacting in some of the forums.
So there was some surveys that went out to students. And they surveyed about 1,200 students. And they asked students, what makes the best online faculty and instructors? And what we found from that study was that they show their presence in the classroom multiple times a week.
And a lot of the students said that the best instructors show their presence daily. So I think that's going to be important, that we're consistently chatting in the forums. If we ask a question, I'm going back into the forum and kind of discussing the question with them as we go along, or as we would do in a regular classroom. So we also want to make sure that we set clear expectations as to when we will be answering those questions.
So setting course policies is going to be really helpful to reduce the need for the daily presence. One of the things that I found in the beginning, I set myself open to, oh, I'll answer questions all the time, I'm always available for you. And I quickly realized that some of my students were messaging me at 10:00 PM or 11:00. So you also want to set up the particular times of when you're going to be able to answer questions, letting your students know, my office hours are from 8:00 in the morning to 6:00 PM.
And you don't want to be overwhelmed with so many questions where you feel the pressure to answer questions late at night or very early in the morning. So you can technically set up your own hours. That way your students know when you're going to be in your class, when you have office hours, when do they expect them answer for some of those questions that they may have.
What we want to do is, by being present in the course, we show a supportive and caring relationship with our students. And that's going to help increase their attributions. So as we increase their attributions through a caring and supportive relationship, we begin to build a community of learners.
So our presence in the course can be shown through clear expectations, our set of policies, setting up those regular hours. So this is what's going to help our students understand. We can also make sure that they're aware as to when and how we're going to be answering those questions. Do you only answer questions posted in the forum versus do you prefer email questions? Or do you prefer your students texting your questions?
Those are going to be your limitations and your expectations that you have in your class. And that's very similar to what we do in a real face-to-face classroom. So that's going to be invaluable when it comes to you setting up your classroom management online.
So that was practice number 1. So we want to be present in the course. Practice number 2 is to create a supportive online environment. So some of the things that we want to do is that we want to make sure that we develop a good strategy for developing a supportive online course community by making sure that we have a balanced set of dialogues.
So we want dialogues between the faculty and the student, the student and the student, but then also the student and the resources. This means designing a course where all three dialogues, with faculty, student-- student to student, and faculty to student, student to resources-- are all about equal. We want them to be able to communicate with the three resources.
So a teacher a student, we can do this by many lectures in text or in video. So right now, we can use different video tools to record ourselves doing a lecture. We can also do a PowerPoint with a voiceover. So there's different ways that we can create that lecture to our students to create that teacher to student learning.
Also, weekly coaching or reminder announcements work really well. One of the things that I do for my classrooms is, I do a weekly video, where I videotape myself. And I just kind of tell my students, welcome to this week. This is what we'll be learning. This is the assignments that will be due. And I kind of give them direction for the week.
And that is something that my students have actually commended me on and have said that they really appreciate that weekly video with explanations of what is going to happen this week. Explanations, interactions with other students, we want to give them the opportunity to ask questions to us or to provide interaction time with us as well. As well as our feedback, our feedback is also going to be important when we are guiding our students in their learning.
So another way for our student to student, we want to make sure that we offer social presence. So these three strategies can be used to encourage students' engagement and building course community. In online learning, we want to make sure that we develop these three types of presence-- social, teaching, and cognitive presence.
So some of the things that we can do is launch the class with a personal introduction posting so that the students can get to know one another. Where are the students? Where are their heads at? What are they thinking at that moment? Some types are often shared to include-- as we gain momentum in our online learning, we also want to make sure that our students connect with us professionally. So we want to share about our own struggles and our own professional experience.
And we want to set up forums for our students, as well, where maybe you can create an open forum in the beginning of your class where students can request help or assistance from each other. This will also help with some of the problem-solving. Students are usually very good at helping each other and answering each other's questions.
One of the things that I usually do is, I leave an open forum and maybe add extra credit for it, where the students are able to ask any questions. And then other students can come in and answer those questions. And that really helps with the classroom management, as well, because a lot of the questions that some of the students are asking are questions that other students can answer. So they don't have to be directly answered by an instructor.
So we also want to set up small groups where students can assume responsibility for supportive mentoring of each other. So that's going to be helpful if you use a room like Zoom. And you can create those small groups where they can work with each other, and then come back and share with the class. That's going to be another way to create that student to student interaction.
Anthony Burik: Yescenia?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Yes.
Anthony Burik: So this is Anthony from OTAN. We have a couple of questions. Would you like to take them now?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Sure.
Anthony Burik: OK. I'm going to kind of work a little bit backwards here. So you were just speaking about forums. So a couple of questions-- where would you recommend setting up a forum? And then what kinds of forums are useful? Are they just forums or are they different kinds of forums? We'll start with that question.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: OK. So the forums can be set up depending on the learning management system that you are using. I usually have a forum that I set up in the beginning of the course, where it's just the general forum to ask questions about the learning management system. And that's usually in the very first week of the course where I set that up.
But as you create each lesson, what I do is I usually have an open forum for every week. So as I give the weekly assignments, there is an open forum for that week, where students can ask specific questions about what they're learning that week. So you would set that up in each learning management system differently. But it's usually like a chat.
It's like a dialogue between students, where everybody can see what everybody else is typing and being able to ask and answer questions. And those seem very helpful. Because sometimes they might get to a worksheet that they don't understand and they might just ask a question specifically to that worksheet. And another student will come in and give them the answer. So that's part of them helping each other.
Anthony Burik: OK, thank you. Another question is, are the students in the class using computers, laptops, their cell phones? Is there anything that you need to consider in terms of the student devices as you're doing the things that you're suggesting?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: So again, it really depends on the learning management system that you're using. But a lot of my students do 90% of their learning on their cell phones, because there's an application for the learning management system that is a link in their cell phones. So all of these strategies can be used in a blended classroom, in a flipped classroom, or in a 100% online classroom. And really, the devices that they're going to use is going to depend on what is supported by that learning management system that you're using.
Anthony Burik: OK, thank you. And then, Yescenia, the last question-- so I think this is just in general as you're giving your presentation today. Are you going to distinguish between different groups of students? So we have one person, and probably a few others, who are asking about, what about the lowest ESL literacy students, for example? Or are these just kind of best practices for all groups of students?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: So they're best practices that we've found in research that have worked across all levels of adult learners. So we're basically focusing on adult learners. When we talk about ESL literacy students, we're going to have to modify our strategies just a little bit, only because of the language barriers. But we can still use a lot of these strategies to help the literacy students.
For example, an activity where we would have students post dialogue, a lot of our learning management systems also allow for the students to record their audio. So maybe we're having the students record an audio of pronunciation of words. Or we would try and make activities that are easier for them. For example, how old are you or what is your name or what did you eat today?
So we would just put simpler questions they would be able to answer based on their learning at that specific moment. So we would just have to modify the type of question that we're asking. But the strategies that we're going over are pretty much used across adult ed, from literacy to career technical to higher education as well.
OK, so we're going to move on to practice number 3. And then Anthony, just let me know if any other questions come up. Another best practice that we've learned is that we want to make sure that we share clear expectations for your students and for yourself. One of the key things that we've learned is that a lot of students don't do certain things or they do not follow directions, because, as instructors, we didn't provide them with that expectation or clear directions on what was expected for them to do.
So this practice cannot be overemphasized. We want to make sure that we include in our course site a set expectation of how students will communicate and dialogue online and how they will communicate with you. For example, many faculty members tell their students that they can expect a response within 24 hours. Online learning is just as intensive as face-to-face learning. So we're basically looking at teaching the same thing, except it's through a different format.
So we want to make sure that we schedule the needs just as if we would be planning for a face-to-face class. So being clear as to how much effort and time will be required on a weekly basis keeps surprises to a minimum. And that will also help with your classroom management as you move forward in your course as well.
So another best practice is to use a variety of large group and small group and individual experiences. So as we grow in online learning-- which is fairly new. Online learning or e-learning is a new experience for a lot of instructors. So a community works well when there are a variety of activities and experiences. So online courses can be more enjoyable and effective when students have the opportunity to brainstorm and work through concepts and assignments with more than one other student.
A lot of the courses that are online primarily focused on individual work, because we want to make sure that they're able to complete that task individually. But we can also embed other practices within the same lesson that would allow them to do group work together, even though they're doing it at different times. So if they're building a story, for example, we can have multiple people add to that story.
Or we can create a partner activity where they have to complete a certain task with other individuals. So we want to build on options and opportunities for students to work together, as well as individually. So we want to mix it up, right? We don't want just all group activities or just all individual activities like we do in the classroom, but we really want to mix it up to create that engagement.
One of the things that we know from research is that collaborative learning allows for opportunities for both social and academic goals. So a lot of the times, the family that you build within your online course is going to be supportive to each other. And we create those connections with each other and kind of keep track of each other as we're moving through the course. So we want to make sure that we're actively interacting and engaging the students, but that other students are actively interacting and engaging with each other and developing those intellectual and personal bonds. The same type of bond that would happen in a face-to-face class, we want to be able to create that same bond in the classroom itself.
So one of the things that I usually do when I start my course online is, I partner up the students into groups of maybe three or four. And then I have the students exchange email information with each other. And I let them know that that's going to be their partners for our course. And they're going to be working together and to encourage each other, help each other out. If you don't see your partner log in to the online learning class, ask them where they're at, kind of hold each other accountable. And that has worked really well in my online classes, where there is bonds created within each other.
And then sometimes we have Zoom classes that we meet on. And if I don't see someone, I'll say, OK, who's talked to a specific student and where is he at? And the other students will know right away, oh, he had a dentist appointment or he's taking care of his mom. They let me know where the student is at. So creating that family bond is going to be important in them keeping track of each other and kind of helping each other get through the course.
Another best practice is to have both synchronous and asynchronous activities. So the same thing that we were talking about earlier, we don't want just one type of activity. But multiple online courses almost always use individual activities. And it's important to use the tools in the course management system, such as having a virtual live classroom through Zoom or through Google Hangouts or utilizing the audio tools on the learning management system to make it possible to do things that we would do in the actual classroom.
So plus, we can often engage learners in more collaborative and reflective activities. Because most of our learning management systems or a lot of our video live classes, we're able to record them. And the students are able to go back and review those classes as well. So there's nothing better than real-time interactive brainstorming and sharing and discussing. So for example, bringing in a case study to your online classroom and having the students problem-solve it, ask questions, review, is going to be an effective experience for them.
And really what we're doing at that point is we're kind of scaffolding. We're allowing them to learn something online, bringing it into the classroom, asking questions from each other. So what we're doing is we're building their self-efficacy. We want to provide instruction early on to build multiple opportunities for practices. We're kind of taking off the different layers of their learning and they're building their own self-efficacy to motivate themselves.
So really, as the student feels that they can do more and more online, then they're going to be able to meet those challenges. So maybe as we're developing our courses-- because I know a lot of us right now, we've switched from face-to-face to online-- we start with simple activities. Maybe we just start with a forum post. And then our next activity might be a matching activity. But as the students are learning how to use the learning management program that we're utilizing with them, we want to start off slow and easy and kind of scaffold to the bigger projects that we want them to do.
Another practice is, early in the course--
Anthony Burik: Yescenia?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Yes.
Anthony Burik: Sorry, this is Anthony.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: No, no, it's OK.
Anthony Burik: Yeah, let's take a break because we do have a couple of questions. Maybe you can circle back to some of the things that you were talking about. Again, we're going to take these a little bit out of order. So speaking about ESL students in particular, the question is, what language would you use to explain your expectations? So my first thought is, actually, well, use English. Do you have anything to say about using other languages?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Yeah, so the same language that you would use in a face-to-face classroom. So we want to use words that they will understand, very easy language. Just like when you stand in front of your classroom and you explain your classroom expectations, you want to make sure that what you're writing or what you're putting in that post or the expectations for the classroom, whether it's your syllabus or course outline or an announcement that you're making to your class, you want to make sure that you're using language that's comprehensible. So we want to make sure it's easy for them to understand. The other great thing, I think, when we use online, a lot of our students are using translators. So some of the language that we give them is easily translated to their own language.
Anthony Burik: OK, Yescenia. And I'll just second something you said early on about the power of video. I think if you have the means of actually making a video of what you're communicating to the students, it's really powerful. It's additional support that you've been speaking about. So sorry, that's just a little parenthetical comment.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: No, no, it's true. I've taught a literacy class online before. And even with a worksheet, if you are able to record yourself in the video and explain very slowly how to do a worksheet, a lot of the times it's easier for them. Because they can come back to the video and re-listen to it, and watch it again as you're explaining how to do something online.
Anthony Burik: And then another question, Yescenia is, what about students who have disabilities? So what are some of the things that you can do to accommodate students who have disabilities?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: I think when we talk about students with disabilities, we would be using the same tools that we use face-to-face. I think if we know a specific student needs more time to do something, or if you are teaching a career technical class and you have an ASL learner, then you're going to have to front load some information. If you have any additional worksheets, you might want to email them to them individually. Or you may want to provide one-on-one support separately.
But I think, depending on the disability, we just want to make sure that it's accessible to them, just like we would do in a face-to-face classroom. And there's just so many disabilities that we can discuss. I think it just really depends on the type of disability and what support systems did you use in your classroom. And we just have to think critically of how we're going to modify that to work online.
Anthony Burik: OK. And Yescenia, let's take one more question at the moment here. What about the case where there might be bullying or maybe not good online etiquette amongst the students. How do you address that?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Wow. So bullying, I think that's something that we need to address in the very beginning as part of our expectations. And I think that's going to come also through your monitoring. If we monitor the classroom-- and I've seen many courses where teachers post a question, and then they never log back in to check the answers. You only see student responses through those questions.
So as an instructor, you want to make sure that you are actively engaged in the classroom online, as well, and you're actively checking the forums or actively checking the discussions that is happening. And if there is any bullying, then we need to directly talk to that specific student and do the same thing that we would do in a face-to-face classroom, where there's an expectation that we have from our students to be respectful. And it's not going to be allowed or tolerated. So I think if the student continues, or if it's something very serious, then administration would need to get involved in that process.
Anthony Burik: OK, thank you, Yescenia. I'll let you continue, and then we'll circle back to some more questions.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: OK, so going back to our practice number 6-- and I think this is really important, especially as we're just starting to develop our courses online. We want to do early check-ins throughout our course and get feedback. So how is the course going for the students? Do they have suggestions?
One of the things that this becomes really important in several of the online courses that I have built have been, I am a step ahead of the student. So I'm a chapter ahead. I'm building this week's material for next week. And this becomes important because, as we're building material and as we're developing our courses, we may miss something. And student feedback is really important. A lot of the courses have evaluations, but the evaluations are at the end. So they're done after the fact, once the students have left or have completed that specific course, and nothing can be changed to increase their satisfaction anymore or to facilitate learning for them in the class they've just completed.
So early feedback and surveys is going to be a discussion and it's going to be something that students are able to provide that feedback, as well as, how well is the course working for them. How can we make the course a better experience for them? So the early feedback is going to be important, because then you're able to modify and change.
And this is something that we should get used to getting from our students, because every class of students is going to be different. And there's going to be different needs for that class. So a really good practice is just to ask them, how is the course doing? Do you need more instruction? Do you need additional videos? And see what type of feedback you're going to get from them.
Practice number 7 is to prepare a discussion post-- sorry, let me go back. I apologize. So we want to make sure that our discussion posts offer inviting questions. So this is going to be their opportunities for them to reflect and to think. One of the things that I love about online is, when we're face-to-face, we ask the question to our students, and most of the time, they have to come up with an answer fairly quickly. And online, they get the opportunity to actually view the question and they can take some time, think about what they're going to write, and come back. So that really provides them a time for reflection.
So discussions in an online course are equivalent to class discussions, except I feel that it kind of gives them that additional time that they need to reflect on those questions. So a key difference is that the time process for the thought and the reflection, the written, whatever, if they need to do essay, then they kind of have a little bit more time to reflect and ask questions before they complete that specific activity.
So some of the things that we know from research or that have been recommended is to provide the open question forum, which we've discussed. So we want to model good probing questions. So the type of questions would be like, why do you think that? So as they're answering, as they're answering the question that you posed for them in the forum, then we would ask the same type of questions that we do in person, the Socratic type of questions, asking questions to clarify, that encourage students to think about what they know and don't know.
One of the things that I learned early on is we want to scatter due dates and responses. So for example, if you're going to do a forum and they have to post something to your question by Friday and respond to two classmates, then if everybody waits until Friday to put their original post, then classmates don't have that much time to go in and review the questions. So maybe the original post is due on Wednesday. And that gives classmates two days to review those posts and ask questions or reply to their classmates.
Provide guidelines and instruction on responding to students. So this is going to be how they're going to answer those questions back. So an example, maybe we want our students to do a two-part response. We want them to share what they liked or agreed about somebody post, what resonated with them. And two, we also want them to ask a followup question, such as, what are they wondering or what are they curious about or what made them think critically about that original post?
We want to provide them with choices and options. So that's another thing that I do. Sometimes I will post two or three different questions. And I will ask students to discuss a minimum of one question from the three choices. Try to limit questions that solicit basic facts or questions that are just yes or no. So as we're posting this questions, we want to make sure that there's questions that will develop dialogue, something that they're talking about, not just something that they can answer with a yes or no.
So practice number 8, we want to focus content resources and links to current events and examples that are easily assessed from the learners computers. So as we know, our students don't have books right now, or most of our students don't have books. Because a lot of our adult education classes have a class set of books. So they're not walking around with their book. Or if they purchased a book, it's not easily accessible to them everywhere.
So if content is not digital, it really doesn't exist for the students when we're trying to work through an online course. This means that content that the students are more likely to use is going to be content that is accessible online. So it could be a link to an article or it can be a PDF that you have uploaded for them, something that they're able to access from their application that is available on their computer or on their cell phone.
Students want to be learning everywhere, any time. And often they are doing multiple things as they are learning. So content that is mobile can be accessed via their smartphones or tablets are usually welcomed a lot better by students. So maybe utilizing some of the articles that are on the news to post for your students, they will be more likely to read that than to pull up a paper that they need to read, if they're learning on the go.
As we're doing that, we want to make sure that the course that we're building for them is also relevant. We want to build their expectancy value. And we want to provide them with the importance of what they're learning. So are we providing a lesson that they need in real life, something that they're going to use in the future. And as they see value for that individual task that we're teaching them, it develops positive values for them as to why they need to learn it.
All right, we're going to move to practice number 9, so combining core concept learning with customized and personal learning. So this best practice combines a number of basic learning principles explained in length in other resources. Very briefly, it means that faculty identify the core concepts to be learned in the course, the performance goals, and then mentor learners through the set of increasingly complex and customized projects applying these core concepts.
So supporting learners with their personal goals that are closely linked to the performance goals of the course, and even beyond the course parameters, the win-win's for the students and individuals in the class. So as we develop our learning online, we want to make sure that we also link it. And as our instructors are teaching this material, the more we're able to personalize the learning for our students, as we discussed for our literacy students. And the more we are able to meet our students' goals, we are able to engage them in our classroom.
So we know from Vygostsky that concepts are not works, but rather organized, intricate knowledge clusters. So another key principle that aids in the concept of learning from Vygostsky is that, rather than being organized in intricate knowledge clusters, we want to make sure that they're able to do the tasks that we are asking them to do. It's a simple but profound principle. So this means that, while we must teach in a linear fashion, presenting concepts individually and in clusters, we need to apply concepts to real-life scenarios.
We need to be able to embed what they're learning in what they're going to be utilizing. So a popular new teaching technique and learning mantra advocates making students thinking visible. So making our thinking visible requires students to create, talk, write, explain, analyze, judge, report, and inquire. So those activities make it clear what students know. Such activities stimulate students growth from concept awareness to concept acquisition. So the discussion forums, the blogging, the journals, the small group work, are all excellent strategies for engaging students in clarifying and enlarging their mental models or concepts and building links and identifying relationships with what they already know.
So again, we're talking about scaffolding. What knowledge do they have right now? What can we use upon the knowledge that we know our students had before we had to go online?
We also want to build on interest. So this becomes activating and building upon interest to increase that motivation for them to continue to do the online course. So interest and motivation are going to be really important for us, because our students are used to that face-to-face learning environment, and now we're moving them to an online environment. So they need to see that expectancy value.
They need to know that, once they complete the course, they're taking some knowledge that they need with them. And we want to be able to tell our students what they're learning is important. At the same time, we want to be able to find learner-friendly training materials or learner-friendly activities that are clear and coherent, that they will understand as we go through this online process with them.
Some of the principles for processing information that we know from research is that, what we teach them needs to be meaningful and connected to prior knowledge. So we need to tap into prior knowledge as we're building these lessons online. The practice has to be frequent to develop that mastery and use metacognitive strategies to assist in becoming self-regulated.
So as we're building our lessons online, we talked about the scaffolding, making it simple. Maybe the first task is to do a discussion forum with them. And then the second time, it's to do a discussion forum and reply to a classmate. Maybe the third task is to do a discussion forum, reply to a classmate, and upload a video of a task that you're asking them to do. So those are going to be things that are going to be helpful in their learning process as we scaffold through the assignments as well.
In that same practice, we want to make sure that the parts are manageable. So especially right now, as we go through this unprecedented event in our society, how much can our students manage? So we need to know our students. And how much can we give them or how much knowledge do we want to give them without overloading them?
And we also want to give them activities that maybe they already know, like pre-learning activities, where it's a review of what you've learned in the class in the beginning. And once we engage our students with the review, then we can start teaching small clusters of different things and adding them online. Anthony, I'm going to go ahead and go through some of the questions before I move to the last practice.
Anthony Burik: OK. There was some questions. Oh, so this is something you talked about a little bit earlier. So many students, I'm sure-- and sometimes even some teachers-- are not able to work alone when they're on the computer. So do you have any suggestions for this situation, just students sitting in their homes or looking at their phones and working alone, having to do with collaboration or things like that?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: So a lot of the students are going to work alone. I think when we talk about the collaborative learning, it's going to be more with other students that are taking the course at the same time online. So it's creating an environment where maybe, if they're going to do like a small project-- or one of the things that I did with my students in the very beginning was, they had to do one PowerPoint slide. And one PowerPoint slide, just one page, was done by three students. So they all had an opportunity to help each other. So even though the students are doing it at different times, they can all log into Google slide at different times and help each other build it, by leaving each other notes or texting each other. So I think most of the collaborative activities are going to be individuals learning alone, but in an environment where they can communicate with others within their own classroom.
Anthony Burik: So Yescenia, along those lines, there was another question about, do you have any recommendations for the frequency of "meeting," in quotations, online.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: I think it really depends on your course and how your course is moving. For a lot of my courses, I truly believe in the flipped classroom model. So a lot of my courses only met once a week. But again, the frequency of the meeting is going to depend on the type of course that you're teaching and how often your students are able to meet as well. If we were going from a four day a week class, then maybe transitioning to just meeting online twice a week, as they become comfortable. And then in the beginning, you're really going to be reviewing a lot of the learning management system that you're expecting your students to use. So maybe for the first couple of weeks, you have two sessions a week. And then you can transition to one. Or you can go the other way. Maybe you want to see how many new students come into your classroom once a week. And then as you see the need, then you keep adding more face-to-face time with them as well. So I think the number of sessions is really going to depend on the type of course that you're teaching.
Anthony Burik: OK. And Yescenia, I just want to tell you-- you don't necessarily have to answer this right now. Maybe you can finish your presentation and circle back. But I think, in general, there are two big questions that many of the participants have. One is a question about, basically, the level of technology skills that students and teachers have, also the level of access to technology devices and internet that students and teachers have. So how do you address some of those issues?
And then the other big question seems to be, like OK, for many people, probably the majority people across the state, this is a brand new experience, both the students and the teachers. So you've given us a lot of things to think about and I think a lot of great practices. But OK, if you're just starting out, maybe what is it that we focus on, among all the things that you talked about?
And again, maybe if you want to finish your presentation and then we can kind of circle back to those two big questions. But I think it would be nice to hear some of your thoughts about, again, sort of the level of access to technology and digital literacy skills amongst students and teachers. And then also this question of, OK, so now you've given us a lot of things to think about, where do we start if we're also just starting ourselves?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: I think the technology access-- and most of us know our students, so that's going to be the platform that we use to teach our classes. So I've seen instructors use applications like Remind, where it's more of a text based application. Or another application that I've used in the past, with literacy students specifically, was WhatsApp, I think it is. It's more of a texting app.
And how we used it was, every day I sent out a question, a very easy question. Or it was, today we're going to send a picture of somewhere in your community. So then students would text back pictures. And they would also text back the answer to their questions. If you know your population of students does not have internet access, then maybe we can consider using an application, like a texting application.
The other way, if they have limited access, as well, or there's not a learning management system because technology is inaccessible to a lot of the older population, then possibly just a website that's already set up, utilizing some of the resources that are already out there to learn English. So for example-- I can share with those that want it-- there's a link to a virtual dictionary that shows pictures and then the word and the pronunciation. So maybe our assignment is to go in and through the picture dictionary and focus on fruits.
So then they're going to go through fruits and learn the words, how to pronounce them with the pictures. And it's just a link that they're clicking on from their phone. And I'm not sure if I answered that question directly, so if there's more specific questions, just let me know and we can go through them at the end. And I can share some of the resources that I use specifically for ASL teachers. And I can share a link that I have that has multiple resources as well.
Anthony Burik: Yescenia, before you move on to number 10, so we actually have a couple of questions about what you just presented in 9. So one question is, could you just quickly repeat the three steps or the examples of how to scaffold up? And then the other question was, can you repeat the list of learning activities when you talked about information processing.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: So let me go back.
Anthony Burik: Sorry, I thought we were just in number 9.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Oh, sorry. OK, so I can send the presentation with my notes to everyone, because now I'm a little bit like, hold on, where was I at. So the list, it was the list for processing information, yes?
Anthony Burik: I believe, yeah.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: This one. So the principles for processing information, I forgot what I discussed at this point. But we want to make sure that information is meaningful and connected to prior knowledge. The frequent practice, I think I discussed starting with a very simple activities, especially for learners that are just getting comfortable with technology, starting off with just the simple post, a video of them working through it. It might not be the first thing that we want them to do. So initially, it might just be posting your favorite fruit.
The second thing might be posting your favorite fruit and responding to a classmate about their favorite food. Do you like it or don't like it? The third thing that we put up for a future post might be posting your favorite vegetable, responding to a classmate, and also uploading a picture of it. So I think I discussed making it easy in small chunks as they're able to process each activity at a time. Because now we're not only adding the element of learning knowledge that they need in life, but we're also adding the element of a new technology system that they're not used to. So they're kind of doing two things at once.
So I think I'm going to move, and then we can come back to some specific questions. And I think the majority of our teachers that are here are new. And I think from the field, I feel like a lot of us are more starting our-- we're very much trying to develop connections to the technology for our students primarily.
But as we wrap up our course, once we know, OK, we're going to close down the course online, we want to give them a good closing or wrap-up activity. So what have they learned throughout the process online itself, and then take the time to remind the students of what's next. What is the next step? Are they moving to the next level?
Plan with an ending course experience. So maybe your ending course experience is just logging on to Zoom and bringing your favorite drink and sharing the experience of being online. But a good practice to end the course is to make that closing activity fun and engaging for them, in order for them to come back, provide an opportunity for reflection on what they learned. For a lot of our students, I think especially with the transition that we did so quickly, maybe what they're learning the most is technology itself.
We might be trying to teach language, but technology itself might be something that they're really learning as we move forward. So we want to provide students with that opportunity to provide their insights of what was helpful and what they learned. What were the core things that they learned through the course? So just an engaging last closing activity may be something that is a good wrap-up for your course.
One of the things I wanted to share-- and this is all based on research-- is learning, right? We want to make sure that we ask the pre and post questions during studying. So those can be different activities. And I will also share with you the system that I use for my students. Provide words and pictures rather than just words alone. The pictures and the videos are going to make a difference for your students as their learning process. Connect new information to prior information. We talked about that.
And we want to make sure that we present information in the context that's familiar to them. That's why some of the classes that just are starting to use online, it might be easier to review some of the material that they already know, because they're already struggling with the technology piece that's being added to it. And then encourage learners to self-explain and answer deep questions during learning. Have learners outline, summarize, and elaborate on material. Encourage individuals to test themselves or to take practice rather than re-study.
So the practice idea is going to be important. And I think we kind meet our students halfway. In adult education, we provide a lot of opportunities, depending on where they're at. So there's going to be students that may not be able to use the learning management system. And for those students, we want to make sure we give them the same experience. Maybe they can text us a picture of their assignment or maybe we can have a conversation or an online meeting or a phone meeting about their learning process. So we want to modify those assignments to what they're able and capable of doing.
One of the key things in technology, we know that learning online, we can cover more material. So as teachers, as we become more comfortable with technology, you're going to be able to see that you're able to cover a lot more material utilizing online resources in the same amount of time that you did it in the face-to-face classroom. So maybe you can do a lecture video about the alphabet, if it's for beginning literacy ESL students. And through that lecture video, your students are able to come back and re-watch the video that you made. Rather than just having that face-to-face one-hour lesson on the alphabet, now they have a video they can come back to and listen to over and over again in order for them to enhance their learning.
Those were the 10 main best practices for online learning. And what I'll do is, I will answer some specific questions and maybe share some of the resources that I use for online learning, specifically to ESL teachers. So I do have a site that I can share with you very quickly. I'll access it. So I'm going to stop sharing for just a minute, and then I'm going to come back so I can share that site with you. And then Anthony, if you want to go over some of the questions while I'm pulling up that site.
Anthony Burik: Sure. OK, so these are some questions here. OK, so one question was, just in terms of meeting with students, what about something like an office time or an office hour, if a student just wants to meet with you one-on-one? How do you go about accommodating that?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: OK, so I personally love my office hours, so I do have office hours. So I have some office hours in the morning, in the evening, depending on when you want to schedule them. But for myself, I love Zoom, so it's the platform that we're using right now that's free to teachers. And what I do is, I tell my students when I'm available. So if I'm available Tuesday from 9:00 to 10:00, I just open up my Zoom room. And they're able to come into the room if they have any questions and just kind of check in with me.
The other way, if I have students that maybe cannot access my room, the same time, my same office hours, I'm available by phone. So I just set up those parameters of when I'm available and what times I'm going to be available. And if they want a phone appointment, I do a phone appointment. But most of my students are able to access the link and log in to Zoom so we can see each other face to face.
Anthony Burik: OK, Yescenia, so another question is, you've discussed maybe starting off with a texting app, like Remind or WhatsApp, for very, very basic. You've also talked about maybe just setting up a website. When it comes to LMS, learning management system, can you tell us which LMS you use with your students and maybe what has been your experience with LMSes? Like do you find that some are easier than others or maybe there's a good one to start off with?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: I do. And I'm bringing that up so I can show it to you. So I've worked with a lot of different learning management systems. So I worked with Little, Blackboard, Canvas. I think I'm done just so many that are out there. The one that I love to use and have been using for the last year is going to be a program called NEO. And I'm going to bring up my class.
So I currently use a learning management system called NEO LMS. And I put it in the chat. And I will share what that looks like. It's free to educators. You can have up to 400 students in your class. So this is what my pharmacy class looks like. It's really colorful, very interactive. For example, in an assignment-- so let me see if I can bring that up-- it has the capacity to record the student's voice, to record your voice, if you want to leave your students a message.
They also have step-by-step instructions on all of this. So for example, if I'm grading this quiz and I want to leave an audio message, I'm able to leave an audio message in the comments, or I can upload a video message. And everything's pretty much done through the program.
What NEO also offers is, it's a very interactive learning management system that also has a phone application. So about 90% of my students pretty much just do all of their learning on their phone. Like most of our students, their phone and their tablets have become their primary technology choice. So a lot of my students love NEO because it's very easy to use. It's very student and teacher-friendly.
So that one is my personal favorite, although I do believe all learning management systems have its pros and cons. They're just all unique in their own way. And whichever management system you use, it's just maximizing all of their resources that they have embedded for you. With NEO, it's very easy to build a quiz, to get a matching quiz, to put pictures, where the students match the word for literacy. I have used it for literacy in the past and all of my students were able to access it very easily. So it's an easy application to use.
Anthony Burik: And Yescenia, some people are having trouble hearing. So it's called NEO, N as in Nancy, E as in Edward, O is an Oscar.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Yes, NEO LMS. And let me see if I can get a link and I can put it in the chat.
Anthony Burik: And Yescenia, there was a question. Do you know anything about the cost, or is there a free version or freemium?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: NEO is free to all educators up to 400 students. So if you have more than 400 students, then you would need to purchase a school account. But teachers can sign up for it individually, and it's free. So if you just have a teacher account, then it's free for up to 400 students.
Anthony Burik: OK. Yescenia, just quickly, the URL in the chat-- so it's www.neolms.com. And Yescenia, a question about that-- can you have multiple classes in NEO?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Yes, you can have multiple classes up to 400. So if you teach three different levels, you can build those three different levels. It's also easy to export, import. So say for example you are using Moodle and you have all your quizzes in there already. You can export those quizzes and upload them into NEO, just the same way, like if you're not going to use NEO anymore, you can export all of your lessons and then put them into a different learning management system. It works really well. It integrates really well with Google Classroom. And it integrates really well with a lot of the other technology for education that's out there to deliver instruction.
Anthony Burik: OK, great. OK, so Yescenia, just a little break for you for just a second. We have had some questions about certificates. And we have addressed that in the chat. So basically, we are taking attendance at all the OTAN webinars. We're a little backed up in terms of recording attendance in our database system. But as soon as we can get to it, we will be issuing certificates for-- well, actually maybe I'll have Melinda come on and talk about it a little bit later. But we are recording attendance. If you ever have questions about certificates or attendance, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org. So that's that.
Yescenia, so maybe there were, again, some questions. So let's circle back to this question about student digital literacy skills, and actually for that matter, teacher digital literacy skills as well. So for everybody who's starting out, teachers and students who don't really have a lot of digital literacy skills, 0 digital literacy skills, not very confident in their digital literacy abilities, where do you start in this process, or what do you focus on in terms of best practices?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: For literacy students, I think it's the most difficult to access a lot of our learning material because of the language barrier. Although I feel a lot of our students are able to kind of figure out technology on their phones or on their computers, most of them are able to somehow utilize their phone or computer to do something. So I think the easiest thing, again, as I said earlier, is utilizing a website that's already built, where they just have to follow a link.
Or if you're going to make a simple activity, it's going to be utilizing a program that's very simple for them, where you can even just send them a video of yourself teaching a couple of vocabulary words. And you just send out your video link and they're able to click on it. So for those students, just making the process very simple is going to be utilizing things that they already know how to utilize, which most of the time is going to be the texting apps that a lot of our teachers are currently using to try and help our students learn. Because those are just, follow the link, click on the link and follow the link. So that's going to be easy.
So for example, I'm going to put the link for the picture dictionary on the comment. So once we provide our students with a link, just like I did right now, you're just texting out that link and they're able to click on it. If it's a link to a video that you want them to watch, like maybe for a higher level learner, you want to send them a Ted Talk that's already on YouTube, then you would just send the link to that YouTube Ted Talk.
Send them the link and then ask a question. What did they learn or what specifically did you want them to take out of that YouTube video or that Ted Talk that you sent out to them? So it just depends, I think, as far as the technology needs, and the literacy students, what they're able to access during that time.
So I wanted to share really quickly-- and I still have the update, because I haven't added all of the links that I want to add. And I'll share my website with you too. So I do have a website that has some ESL resources. So these are some of the links that I sometimes send my students. And it's just a couple of my favorite websites. And I'll send you the link. So this is my Google site. And these are just some of the links that I share with my students. And sometimes, it's just the link I send and then a specific activity I want them to do.
But this is going to be something that you can put together. Like maybe you are just sending them a page with links. Maybe you just want to send one link at a time. But providing the students with the links is usually the easiest route. If you're using a learning management system, then you're more embedding and creating a course online. If you're just using websites, then you're just using the resources that are available out there.
Anthony Burik: On the OTAN website, Yescenia, we can add Yescenia's slides. And then also, the website that she just showed us, we could also put the link to the website in there as well. So that'll be available after we finish up today.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Really quick-- sorry, Anthony-- and I think one of the things that our teachers might be interested in really utilizing OTAN, because I know there is a seminar on how to build your Google Sites. I think Google Sites, if you can just provide your students with one link to your site and you have resources up there-- you can upload worksheets, you can upload videos-- if they just have that one link that they need to go to access all of your materials, then you're not really teaching them a bunch of different resources.
They just have to go to one link to access you. And then you can build your Google website to kind of customize it to what you want your class to learn. Whether it's a beginning literacy class or an advanced class, you can build a lot of things onto your Google website to kind of customize it to your student needs.
Anthony Burik: Yescenia, just back on the topic of discussion forums-- so you mentioned how, when you're working in the LMS-- for example NEO or Moodle or Canvas or whatever-- there is that discussion forum function or tool that's built into the LMS. But do you recommend any other tools, tech tools, for discussion forum setup? For example, somebody mentioned Padlet, for example. But do you have any other ideas about tools we could use for discussions?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Well, there's lots of tools that you can use. I think it just depends on how many tools you want to use. For myself, I find it easier just to work with NEO and Google Classroom to kind of share different things. Because remember, as you're utilizing and adding more tools, those are more tools that you need to learn as an instructor and that your students need to learn to use as well.
But there's definitely a lot of different tools. Padlet is amazing. There's different discussion tools that we can utilize to help our students. Google has Google Blogs that we can utilize to blog with our students. So there's just so many tools out there that we can use. I think our teachers need to choose a tool that they want to use or that they really like, and focus on maximizing that tool with their students. Because we don't want to give them too many tools in a short amount of time, especially students that are struggling with technology already.
Anthony Burik: Yescenia, would you be able to add the link to your Google site in the chat?
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Yeah.
Anthony Burik: OK. And as I've been telling a few people in the Q&A-- I think I just said this too- we'll add links to Yescenia's slides and her Google site on the OTAN COVID-19 Field Support page. Let me go back. Let me just see if we need any other questions we need to address here.
OK, Yescenia just added the link to her website in the chat. So it's a bit.ly, so B-I-T dot L-Y, and then there's a slash. And whenever you use bit.ly, folks, anything after the slash is case sensitive. You have to type it exactly as is. So capital M-R-S, capital D-E-L-G-A-D-O, Mrs. Delgado. And it's in the chat. We can put it there again. And we'll put it on the OTAN COVID page.
So folks, we have a few minutes left here. Yescenia, if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to just show people the OTAN website just quickly.
Yescenia Delgado Lorenzo: Yes, please.
Anthony Burik: And Yescenia's now showing her face. Hi, Yescenia. So I'm going to take over the screen here. Give me one second. Where are we here?
OK, hi, everyone. Actually, I didn't introduce myself. I'm Anthony Burik at OTAN. So I just wanted to point out for folks a couple of things. I'm showing you, and hopefully you can see the OTAN home page at otan.us, otan.us, again. So we have just posted our upcoming activities for this week.
Actually, we have office hours later today, Monday, 1 o'clock. We actually do office hours now three times a week-- Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So if you have very specific questions, you can come and join us in the OTAN office hours. We'll take any and all questions there. And then you should see the lineup for upcoming webinars this week as well. So we have a pretty full schedule. You can sign up for any and all of these sessions from the home page.
But on the right-hand side, you should see this COVID-19 Field Support button. If you click this button-- sorry, I was just looking at the chat here. If you look at the COVID-19 19 Field Support button, so I just want to point out things for people. Under the OTAN section, we are working as quickly as we can to post recordings and materials from previous webinars in this previous OTAN Webinars table.
So as I mentioned, we're going to get Yescenia's recording and resources up on this table as quickly as we can. We have a bit of a backlog as you can imagine over the last couple weeks, but we're working to get everything up on this table. So check back at the table to get those resources and website links and all that.
We also have our own OTAN Resource Guide. It's the first item under OTAN. So if I click on that and I open the guide, hopefully you can see this. Actually, we've gone ahead and majorly reorganized this guide. If you've seen it in the last couple weeks, it was just kind of one continuous stream. We're trying to get a little bit organized, more organized here.
But I did want to point out on the first page, because there were many questions about the digital skills of my students and my teachers and myself and all that. We have added a list of websites that you might consider looking at and sharing with students that have to do with acquiring these basic digital literacy skills. So a lot of you know GCF Learn Free. That's a great site that covers a lot of ground on computer basics, email basics, internet basics, all that kind of stuff. And they try to keep the language pretty simple. They try to add screenshots, as well, so you can kind of see what they're discussing.
There are a number of other sites that you can take a look at-- digitallearn.org, digitalliteracy.gov, Techboomers. These are also good sites that have a lot of information that cover the basic ground. So if you are able to share these kinds of links with your students so that they can practice on their own, Yescenia was telling us about, maybe the most important thing that we focus on at the moment is just teaching these digital literacy skills that are super important. And then we move into the content in time. So this is another place to look for some sites that might be helpful for your instruction. So I'll leave it at that.