Brian Sassersen, a teacher at Technical Education Copenhagen, was named Danish “Digital Teacher of 2020”. Hear his tips for remote learning.
This post is based on an interview with Brian and an article by Edura.
Brian teaches Electrician courses at Technical Education Copenhagen (TEC), one of Denmark’s largest vocational institutions. This prestigious award was presented to him by Edura, an agency dedicated to digitizing the education sector. In March, when the coronavirus caused TEC to transition to remote learning, teachers had to be creative in their attempts to maintain a semblance of ‘normality’ for their students. Brian quickly adapted to the circumstances by creating quality digital education while making sure his students were not overwhelmed by the shift to online learning.
“I enjoy coming up with technological improvements to help students. Transitioning to purely remote teaching was especially difficult in practical fields like Electrician studies, so we really had to adapt.” For example, Brian started asking his students to examine things like lighting fixtures in their homes as assignments. In the classroom they had studied the newest types of electronics, but at home they gained insight into everyday electronics that they might encounter throughout their careers.
Learning Management System
TEC has been using the itslearning LMS for 16 years and it helped them carry out a digital transformation at their institution. All courses are based on itslearning master course templates which are connected to national learning objectives. Class notifications go through the platform and students can get them on the itslearning app. All teaching material is uploaded to itslearning and the curriculum is structured around the Planner. The itslearning Planner shows students what they need to do, and when they need to do it.
Keep it simple
Brian helped lead the digital transformation at TEC before the pandemic started, so he was well prepared for remote learning. One of his key takeaways from online learning is: keep it simple.
Learning Paths are step-by-step digital lessons for students to follow. They can include texts, videos, and even tests to measure understanding along the way. Those who pass the test can be sent ahead – and others sent along a different path for review. Everyone ends up at the same goal, but at their own pace. “Students love learning paths!” Brian adds, “they know exactly what they need to do.”
Since going remote, Brian started asking his students to record videos for homework. He says it has been an effective way to engage them. “Students whose written skills are not as strong have flourished using this method. Video submissions help students demonstrate learning and have given me better insight into student mastery. This is especially important when we don’t have daily contact at school.”
Motivating students through social engagement
Brian has experienced how important contact between students is while studying remotely. When he first started teaching online, he concentrated on the subject matter, but soon noticed that some of his students seemed lonely. So, he created a space using Zoom where they could meet without him to speak freely amongst themselves – like when a teacher steps out of the classroom for a while.
“It’s important to allow students to just be social and express themselves, especially during these challenging times. This disruption has had a huge effect on them – and they may feel alone – so it’s helpful to show interest in them and their hobbies while helping them reach their academic goals.”
Remote Learning Takeways
“Teachers should make an effort to remember lessons learned when schools open again for face-to-face learning,” Brian advises. TEC went back to traditional teaching this month, but they are prepared in case they need to close again. Brian records all his lectures and posts links to the recordings on itslearning. This comes in handy for those who are absent, for example, his students who currently have the coronavirus, but are healthy enough to follow lessons from home.
Brian summarizes, “The most important things teachers can do during this massive disruption are to improve their digital skills and ensure that students’ emotional and academic needs are met.”
Hear more of Brian’s remote learning tips in this video by Edura. To enable English subtitles, please click the CC icon.
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