Online Education Modifications During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Margaret "Peggy" Wallace, educator and expert with online education modificationsPeggy Wallace has been teaching in the online Master of Science in Education program for 10+ years. She is a seasoned veteran who has taught hundreds of students online and has had to modify her instruction in those online settings many times before.

With COVID-19, educators are seeing the need to extensively modify aspects of learning experiences to accommodate their students in a new world.

We spoke to Peggy about the modifications she is making in her courses that require in-person teacher/student tutoring and what she is doing to support her students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You’ve modified your online instruction to accommodate the needs of students before. How is dealing with the fallout from COVID-19 different?

In the past, we have dealt with exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis. With the novel coronavirus restricting face-to-face interactions with K-12 school kids, we have had to make some fairly significant changes to accommodate our graduate students.

I have worked closely with each of my students to come up with a plan that not only works for them but will also satisfy state requirements.

How have you been able to assist your students during this pandemic?

When K-12 schools closed, I had a sleepless night coming up with a collection of solutions and a variety of options to handle the different online education modifications that would be required. My plans have since gone through a lot of changes, which makes sense – this is the first time I’ve dealt with a pandemic!

Fortunately, all of my students have been able to either continue tutoring in their established tutoring relationships or have come up with alternative solutions. One of my students is tutoring a family member – her niece. We don’t normally permit tutoring close relatives, but in this situation, the student made a good case so we permitted the adjustment.

All of my students will be able to complete their tutoring requirements. All it took was some planning and extra communication on everyone’s part.

Most school systems have had to adapt and set up some form of remote teaching – whether it’s packets going home, classroom video conferences, or sending home laptops or tablets with students. So that’s been helpful too. We’re all working together.

Have you had to adapt how you teach the class?

I’ve made an effort to look at this whole situation very logically. My thoughts mostly center on practical solutions, like ‘How can we work together to do this?’ and ‘What can I offer my students?’

What is one of the most significant hurdles you have overcome during this pandemic?

In their next major assignment, students are required to record themselves teaching their own students. The first video is them doing an assessment to guide their tutoring plan, and then the second video is an actual tutoring session that follows their plan.

What do you do when you suddenly don’t have access to your own classroom and students?

I’ve extended the deadline for some of my students who need it, and I’ve worked with them to plan out the logistics of recording their online tutoring sessions. In the classes I teach, nearly every single assignment revolves around onsite tutoring, so I have worked closely with my students to make sure they have what they need.

At the end of the day, our goal is to be here for our students and help them succeed. And I’m doing everything that I can to make their graduate school experience as seamless as possible during this difficult time.

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