- In a paper published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, researchers at University of California Santa Barbara write students look at instructors' body language for important cues while listening to lessons, highlighting the importance of teachers including themselves in their instructional videos.
- Research suggests when instructors appear in videos, there is better student engagement, which leads to deeper understanding and better test results. Students should also be able to see the instructor's eyes and where they are looking.
- Teachers’ faces can be distracting, however, as researchers suggest seeing an instructor's face the entire time can split attention between the face and the lesson. The researchers suggest teachers should carefully direct their attention and body language on-camera, knowing students will follow both facial and body cues.
School closures turned pedagogy on its head as the novel coronavirus set in, forcing instructors to rethink how they delivered lessons. Ten months later, many teachers are still instructing remotely and some best practices have emerged. So far, there is no single best way identified for teaching remotely, but maintaining connections seems to be key, administractors and instructors say. And being visible on camera during the lesson is one way to keep kids connected.
Whether for academics or social-emotional support, the more connected students feel to their teachers, the more they flourish — even remotely, curriculum leaders say. Though school leaders focused on developing and strengthening social-emotional supports in the spring, academic expectations were reinforced this fall.
Even pre-pandemic, communication and connection were critical. Regular updates with both students and parents is an important tool to maintain a sense of connectivity, and strong communication with parents has become all the more important amid school closures. Consistent text messages, emails and online meeting tools keep families in the loop. When school is remote, it’s important to clearly lay out expectations, objectives, resources, activities and assessments, wrote Deirdre Edwards, curriculum team leader for the South Carolina Department of Education’s VirtualSC, in District Administrator.
Project-based curricula has also become more of a go-to model since instructional delivery methods changed overnight in March. The technique encourages students to get creative with what they have on-hand and use the resources around them to demonstrate their knowledge, often in a practical manner.
Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education and president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, said project-based learning can not only motivate students, but also help them connect what they are learning to the real world.
Many instructors also transitioned to feedback-based assessments to determine academic progress. As in-person instruction resumes, many teachers are continuing to use this strategy.