Rick Weymouth is sharing some things to consider when you are using online tools for TEE. This is especially helpful for our members who have discovered online TEE during the COVID-19 crisis and are looking for ways to incorporate this into their standard practice.
Use the right tool for the right learners
Its important to use the right tool for the right group. Where basic level courses can be run on a smartphone, when it comes to doing the homework, for a bacherlor or higher level course it may not be so easy to do this. How well does it work to write an essay on your smartphone for example. Some may find ways to do this, but for the majority of learners a computer based programme will work a lot better. For these type of courses an LMS like Moodle may be a good thing to use, the thing to note is that a tech savvy person needs to run it, and not all teams have someone like that. Horizon Education Network is a good organisation to work with in this respect.
Security is an issue some countries may need to think about. Google product are reasonably secure from a hacker point of view, but they may share data with governments who want to have access to that. Teams should consider neutral type of websites for countries where students do not want to log onto christian websites, and they may need fake profiles for online group discussions. Secure tools do exist!
Taking a course fully online can have the danger that its not rooted in the local church any more. Students are at a distance and it gets harder to check whether there learning impacts and happens with the local church.
The type of course can also inform your way of setting up the class. You can do discussions in a zoom or skype meeting, this gives students the option to interact immediately (synchronous discussion). However, having a written online discussion (asynchronous), where students react to questions and statements can also be very valuable. They can have time to think their responses through and this tends to lead to more analytical thinking and gives the more introverted students a chance to react in a meaningful way without being put on the spot. For higher level courses this is a valuable addition. While more basic level courses may feel they miss out on real discussion, as a student in Malaysia put: ”In a face-to-face situation, involvement in discussions come about naturally, the mood is there. In an online class that kind of a ‘mood’ is hard to establish.”
When you work across time zones, for example with groups in different countries as happens in the Arab world, or what might happen with Diaspora TEE, asynchronous discussion is the only way.
Differences between online and face to face courses
|Online||Face to face|
Less travel time but more preparation time and effort required of tutors. When students spend time to prepare a set of question before the meeting this benefits the online discussion.
|Travelling to and from clas takes time and money. This makes it harder to find times when everyone can come.|
|Motivation||Online students need more self-motivation to keep going, especially in longer courses. Grades are an incentive.||Students can motivate each other. Peer pressure means people want to do well.|
|Social interaction||Students can miss the interaction and the company a real group can bring. Also seeing each other’s background, family and church life is more difficult.||People enjoy being part of the group and have ‘real’ interaction.|
|Church based training||Church based training needs to be implemented from the get go and requires intentional partering between student, chuch and tee organisation.||Church based training happens in the church / with the church more often.|
|Expectations||Students drop out easily when the workload is higher than expected.||Students drop out when the workload is higher than expected.|
Younger students take to it, especially when the smart phone can be used
|Older students are used to learning from books and not from screens.|
|Discussion||asynchranous discussion stimulates analytical skills and critical thinking||synchronous discussions allows spontaneous reactions and ideas bouncing off each other|
So the more blending you can do, the better. If a TEE team can find which blend between online and face to face learning works best for their students, so much the better. Students in different countries at different levels will have different learning needs and this should inform the type of blend teams choose.
Teams are now very excited about using online tee, but need to remain aware of the limitations. for a good system of TEE learning there needs to be an intentional partership between the home church, the student, the organisation in order not to run the risk of losing the church-based training.
Online tee is possible and this is part of the future. There are lot of tools out there to make any training available online or blended. Use the current excitement to think things through and make it work in your situation.
Tools You can Use
In the links below you will find several tutorials on Zoom, which has sprung up in this pandemic. However there are perhaps other tools you might consider, like Google Meet or Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft TEAMSand Google MEET (formerly Hangouts Meet) are superior products to Zoom, especially with their respective integration with Office 365 (Microsoft) and G-Suite (Google). However, Zoom may be easiest for guests to connect to for one-off meetings and short-term use. For regular, long-term team or class meetings, TEAMS and MEET appear to offer more.
LOOM is a screen and video capture tool. It is NOT a tool for video conferencing! Simple, easy to use, with good presentation features. Simple cloud-based editing functions. It offers free, unlimited cloud storage, but videos also downloadable and share-able.