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This paper explores how lessons learned from developing blended and fully online courses were employed in the momentous move to online delivery in the late spring and summer of 2020. Our context was one in which, rather than having to get through to the end of semester, we were embarking on what would normally be large-scale intensive academic English courses which would run throughout the summer. While the pivot online did mean as Gacs et al. (2020, p. 380) says ‘crisis‐prompted remote teaching’, our previous experiences enabled us to provide effective, principled templates to support course designers, and teachers who would deliver courses. Drawing on principles of effective online learning, constructive and social constructivist pedagogies for both language and content learning, we show how these flipped courses were planned and scaffolded. We also illustrate how teacher induction incorporates not only pedagogical and content knowledge but also technical knowledge, thus starting to address aspects of Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) technical, pedagogical and content knowledge (TPCK) framework. Support for teachers was also provided by organising teams of teachers with a variety of experience. There was a deliberate emphasis on peer planning and discussions of lessons, thus ensuring opportunities to share expertise and to meet the need for social interactions for teachers.
The resulting courses were quite different from the face-to face classroom-heavy immersive learning provision. Yet our reflection will show how the careful but essentially simple approaches used in course design afforded engaging and ultimately very successful outcomes. While we will reflect on aspects that need further development, these can be built on as colleagues develop the skills and confidence to continue online delivery. This paper, then, aims to show that essential skills sets can be developed with relatively minimal but carefully thought out principled, structured and streamlined support from the outset.
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