After Finishing My Final Paper…
Since I worked on the Final Paper Proposal and Annotated Bibliographies early on with the guidance of Dr. Daisy, it became so much easier to write my final paper. I knew what I wanted to write about related to our course objectives, and I already got literature pieces that I wanted to draw upon for my paper. It was very helpful to have a video conference with Dr. Daisy where she provided insightful advice unsparingly and guided me to see the overall blueprint of my final paper from a wider perspective. At the same time, it was a good chance to write my Final Paper in that I can ponder over the current condition of our online education where I am also taking courses for MSTPC and where I am teaching my ESL/EFL students during the era of the pandemic instead of our usual face-to-face classes.
Here’s the abstract of my Final Paper.
Learning beyond the Borders: Especially in the Era of Covid-19
As an instructor in the ESL/EFL environment, I teach reading, writing, and discussing various types of text (literature, biography, articles about current issues, etc.) written in English. Before the pandemic, taking advantage of emerging media and digital technologies, I have already been using media sources as a subsidiary tool in my class such as Youtube and Google, which promptly provides a great amount of useful graphic data. However, since the pandemic, Covid-19, strongly stroke the whole world, my students and I have been fully depending on digital technologies in order to continue our classes online instead of taking a break from our usual face-to-face classes.
In the beginning of the pandemic period, I had to take a long break from most of my classes without getting paid for months. However, with the support of digital technology as well as S. Korea’s nationwide passion for education, it was decided to resume classes online at language institutes and schools. Since most of the online classes including the ones at our institute are synchronous, reliable internet access and laptop or tablet and the like became not an option but indispensable tools both for my work and the learning environment for my students. Through the phase affected by Covid-19, I realized how significantly digital literacy can evolve/keep evolving based on the benefits of emerging media and digital technologies. The video conferencing platforms, Zoom and Gooroomee (a Korean platform similar to Zoom) definitely provide a stable connection for the classes I teach. Youtube is still a great source of videos we need for online classes. It is also amazing that I can share my screen on Zoom and Gooroomee so that my students can read what shows up on the virtual board instead of a usual whiteboard in their offline classroom. Google Docs is another great tool that can replace an actual white board in the offline classroom, letting both instructor and students write on the virtual sheet synchronously, which we are joyfully using in many of our classes during this pandemic era.
Teaching online from home, my commuting time has decreased, and I can spend more time preparing materials for my students by making a deeper level of reading comprehension questions, vocabulary list with more ample examples, quizzes with various types of questions, etc. Beside these benefits of having online classes, I contend that there are several aspects that need improving in terms of more effective communication for better online teaching and learning based on my teaching experiences. Hurley and Hea note that it is important to prepare students for technical communication in the era of emerging media and that it is necessary to enable students to critically use social media in the aspect of technical communication skills. Also, beyond using social media platforms merely for research, the authors argue that students also need to learn how to share the content and distribute it through various social media platforms. In a similar vein, Stein demonstrates how to prepare students for a virtual class, focusing on how to prepare learners for online classrooms, considering students’ concerns about the contact with their instructor and peers, technological failure, and so on. In order for students to share their concerns with their instructor while having communication with their peers, it is necessary for students to build a relationship with their instructor and classmates. Regarding this, the author argues that based on the theory of “Community of Inquiry,” students need to develop “social presence.”
According to Knowlton’s theory, students better collaborate with each other in a reciprocal and dynamic atmosphere because “There is a social dimension to the teaching and learning process – students are not ‘alone’ in their efforts to learn” (Knowlton, 2000, p.9). As reciprocal collaboration helps students to actively participate in learning, it naturally forms student-centered classroom atmosphere. In “Online University Teaching during and after the Covid-19 Crisis: Refocusing Teacher Presence and Learning Activity” (2020), Rapanta et al. (2020) present practical methods for effective online classes from a variety of real-world cases based on the interviews with experts in the field of online education – to introduce a few: “Open up extra communication channels” for students. Allow “flexible time.” Make prompts to stimulate “probing, interrogating, critiquing and relating to content and other learners.”
In conclusion, I agree with Rapanta et al. (2020) that we can make the period of Covid-19 a chance to focus on the need for a change to the field of education. Due to emerging media and developing technologies, the world is changing rapidly, and so is the education field. By designing feasible and effective online learning environments based on digital technologies, both instructors and students will be able to adapt to the changing classroom environment and new patterns of communication. It is also essential for instructors and students to be ready for unpredictable forthcoming environments that could be caused by the pandemic. At the same time, the academia needs to be aware that it is necessary to invest in training instructors to develop their technical and professional communication skills using emerging media and to keep instructors updated on new, effective pedagogies (Rapanta et al., 2020, p.945).
I had a great semester with you all! Have a nice winter break!