Time management is a major issue for high school students taking online courses. It is an issue that students readily acknowledge and one they genuinely want to resolve. Scarcity of time forces us to make choices and students in my economics class are all too familiar with the economic concept of opportunity cost and the trade-off’s they need to make when making those choices. They only need to apply this concept and that is where students can have problems. Some online students struggle with self motivation and a student can quickly fall behind in an online course when they fail to engage regularly. Even teachers who are communicating and trying to engage students on a daily basis will fail to engage a student who does not sign in. Providing strategies and support to these students is the best way to encourage students to overcome these issues and meet the long-term learning objectives of the course. Pamoja Education has many procedures and strategies already in place to do just this, including pre-training on developing time management skills.
As a teacher what more can I do? The content for my online IB Diploma Programme Economics SL course has already been created. My role is to facilitate students in learning the economic concepts and skills they need to be successful in meeting the course learning objectives and IB Diploma aims. Students in the 21st century can still struggle with the technology just as teachers do. This is a constant that has always been present and will continue to remain as the learning/teaching technology continually changes and evolves. One of the things I am focusing on as I enter my second year teaching online at Pamoja Education is how can I make it easier and more effective for my students to stay on top of their assignments and activities. How can I maximize the time students spend on learning economic ideas/concepts and creating their own economic insight? I am finding the amount of time students spend on the course is not the issue as most students spend plenty of time in the course environment and engaging with the activities. It’s more about creating “concentrated effort” time and “critical thinking” time that is paramount for learning. My strategies this year include simplifying instructions, suggesting better ways to create economic models/diagrams, saving files and uploading to drop boxes along with easier ways to create presentations. I hope to create more opportunities for students to engage in “concentrated effort” and “critical thinking” and thus maximize student learning.
Another strategy of providing less flexibility, for example in how students submit things, not more flexibility to students is also proving helpful. Helping students develop better technology habits regarding the use of the various digital tools is a better strategy long term even if it creates a new learning curve initially. These strategies should allow my IB economics students to spend more time focusing on the learning task/objective at hand and avoid feelings of being overwhelmed or finding themselves in a state of “learning paralysis”.
I hope these changes that I have already made and I continue to make this year will help me reach my larger goal; that is to increase student opportunities for creating economic insight and ultimately help them unleash their human ingenuity and creativity.