Since the start of the new semester three weeks ago, there have been a great variety of cloud classrooms in Beijing Forestry University (BJFU) every day. Every good class is not accidentally successful, with every teacher experiencing online teaching from an uneasy style to a familiar and enlightening state. Behind all this, nearly 100 teaching staff have worked very hard to ensure university teachers to give their online lessons smoothly. They have made joint efforts with the Center for Teaching and Learning Development to fight the Covid-19 epidemic, and carried out a series of activities such as simulation teaching, online training, joint studies and researches by supervisors and teachers, teaching and learning consultation, experience exchange, etc.
On January 26, BJFU made deployment of the teaching affairs during the Covid-19 epidemic prevention and control period, demanding all the university staff working in coordinated move “on a university chessboard”. The Center for Teaching and Learning Development was on the move at the first time, in accordance with the integrated plan of “Planning Ahead, Focusing on Needs, Flanking Support, and Facilitating Development”. The Center released four issues of “Online Charging Plan for Teachers’ Teaching Abilities” in a month, and 30 articles were pushed, thus exploring an advanced and upgrading online teaching and researching system of “Tool→Skill→Method→Morality” in the course of epidemic prevention and control.
Step 1: Take “Tools” as the first, helping online teaching start smoothly
It’s said that “Good tools are prerequisite to the successful execution of a job”. In the first phase, it is highly necessary to help teachers quickly master the online teaching tools that are suitable for the curriculums and their own characteristics, thus relieving their pressure and preparing an effective instrument for online teaching.
Focus on preparatory work to promote teaching. Some preparation measures were taken three weeks before the start of online teaching, such as investigation, planning ahead, and charging plan development as well as overall planning based on online teaching and teacher concerns. The plans were implemented by stages.
Promote technology applications. Organize simulation teaching, training of live-streaming teaching, teaching seminars, and share the application experience of online teaching tools, to help teachers to study specifically and gain profits. A teacher named Wang Kun said, “The distance teaching training enables me to fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of various teaching methods, so that I can make choices according to the characteristics of the curriculum.”
Pay attention to relieving teachers’ stress. In order to strongly support online teaching, to create a consistent learning atmosphere for teachers and to ease their pressure, BJFU has organized group discussions, online FAQ, and one-to-one consultation for teachers, providing online answers for more than 500 teachers’ questions. Many teachers have said that “Online teaching is both a challenge and an opportunity. By participating in specific training and simulated teaching, we become more confident in online teaching and will not panic for it.”
Step 2: Strengthen teaching skills, creating a splendid and colorful online classroom
“Teaching is a multi-skilled art”. In the second phase, BJFU helped teachers to master the basic online teaching skills and to make online teaching course design, aiming to promote their proficiency of skills, and improve their online teaching tactics. Focus on online course design. Since three days before the start of online teaching, the university has invited teachers and experts to write articles about how to design the online teaching courses under a totally new teaching environment and has selected excellent articles to push to all teachers to share opinions on some specific and difficult issues. Hence teachers can learn from each other and produce a workable course design for effective online teaching according to their teaching content, such as different knowledge points either fundamental or professional, ideological and practical, considering their breadth and depth, traditional, classic and innovative characteristics.
Focusing on the hot and difficult problems in online teaching practice, carry out on-line research and study and issue “tips on practical teaching skills” to help teachers to study and practice continuously and improve their online teaching skills.
Pay attention to the summary of experience. BJFU encourages teachers to share their practical teaching experience and reflections for improvement. The “Teaching Notes” column releases teachers’ real-time articles to introduce successful teaching experience, which indicate their creative design and diverse feasible tips.
Step 3: Take “methods” as the “feather”, helping teachers to “fly” on the “cloud”
“There are methods in teaching, but there aren’t fixed and rigid methods in teaching. The key is to adopt the proper methods in teaching.” In the third phase, the university helps teachers to focus on advanced teaching methods to create valuable and efficient online classrooms for students based on the “student-centered” concept.
Focus on advanced pedagogy. A week after the start of the semester, the university launched an investigation on teachers’ needs for online teaching, in order to find out teachers’ needs in improving their teaching ideas and teaching methods on successful online teaching. Relevant research activities in multiple channels were also conducted to promote teachers’ in-depth thinking of new changes in the teaching notions, methods and contents brought by the new technology.
Promote joint studies and joint researches. After the semester started smoothly, the “Three Ones” working methods of undergraduate teaching supervision were put into practice—adhering to ONE principle(with the goal of encouraging help and exploring experience); Setting up ONE mechanism(joint studies and researches among old, mid-aged and young teachers);Pursuing ONE strategy(“ONE school, One strategy” toward demands). The teaching supervisors listen to the online classes, hold seminars with teachers, study together with them, encourage each other, select out the typical cases, promote outstanding teaching experience, offer professional help, supporting teachers to conduct successful online classes on the basis of the smooth start.
Center on the students in teaching. Select and push relevant cases and resources to promote teachers to carry out on-line situation analysis. Colleges and teachers carry out self-initiated investigation and analysis of learning conditions to improve teaching based on students’ learning experience.
Step 4: Taking “morality” as the soul, facilitating teaching exploration
“The way of great learning consists in manifesting one’s bright virtue.” In the fourth phase, the university has taken “morality” as the soul, helping teachers to highlight the ideological and political aspects of the curriculum, and to keep the initial intention of education firmly in mind and convert their enthusiasm of the current online teaching into in-depth research and continuous teaching exploration and innovation.
To highlight the ideological and political education in curriculum teaching, the university has held many lectures on specific topics and pushed useful resources, promoting teachers’ multi-level discussions and exchanges on how to explore and integrate ideological and political elements in online teaching, how to shape values for students in “cloud classrooms” and how to play a good classroom “main channel” role.
To advance deep integration, striking while the iron is hot, the university strengthens research and discussion, reinforces theoretical and practical exploration, converting the “danger” of epidemic situation into the “opportunity” of information and teaching integration, and promoting online teaching into a “deepening period”.
Stress the theoretical study. Gradually change the focus of work, focus on the post-epidemic teaching research and development, play a good supporting role, encourage teachers to further their teaching by converting their emergency teaching activities into teaching research and innovation.
In the undergraduate online course teaching during the fight against Covid-19 epidemic, the students in BJFU have kept learning their courses online and the teachers have kept online teaching and researching. The teachers have improved their basic skills of online teaching by starting from mastering the online teaching tools, adopting a great diversity of teaching skills and methods, and integrating the ideological and political education in curriculum teaching. More importantly, they have carried out the new reform of teaching notions, teaching methods, and teaching contents brought by the new technology.