A recent survey found that the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for teachers, parents and students alike. Many teachers and parents are concerned about their children’s progress, wellbeing, and finding relevant resources. Students said their main worry was being easily distracted, less motivated, and less effective at studying. Furthermore, students were yearning for daily social interaction and struggling with absence of an in-person teacher. How can educational technology help bridge the gap between all of these concerns? Is it possible to create a distraction-free “learning zone”, and find a balance between play, rest, and work each day?
Get started with online teaching
Newly online teachers should aim to keep their teaching environment as structured and disciplined as possible, while allowing for flexibility. Let students know you have an “open door policy”, although they will be contacting you by email or video call instead. Not only will you as the instructor want to be actively involved with students, you’ll also want to encourage peer to peer interaction so students can study online together. You can accomplish this via discussion boards, allowing students to grade each other’s assignments, and even asking students to critique your performance. You may also want to take this opportunity to learn some more relevant than ever computer skills in your spare hours, like making educational videos, pre-recording lessons and creating self-marking assessments using tools like Google Forms!
Set up remote classroom environments
How do you set up a remote classroom? If your school doesn’t have one already, you will first need to select a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Google Classroom, Canvas or Docebo to share your resources online. Using a calendar app, a communications app, and a live streaming app to help organize classes and communicate with your students. Online chalkboards such as Limnu and Miro are handy too! Don’t forget to keep in touch with anxious parents and guardians during this process. Allow students to learn in fun ways with “online scavenger hunts” and “online debates” about historical people and events. You can even allow them to create “online graphics” as well.
Provide enriching learning experiences from afar
When teaching online during school closures, remember that each student has a different level of remote access – some might have a laptop, others might only be able to access the internet on their phones. Therefore, prepare both a course syllabus and lesson plans activities with this in mind. Keep your video lessons short and to the point, and allow students to collaborate in linked forums such as a Google Classroom. Don’t forget to clarify the ground rules so these discussions remain courteous and respectful. Assign fun and challenging at-home activities and projects for students, remembering to keep safety in mind. Encourage your students to create their own content by conducting remote interviews, embedding videos, graphics and images into their assignments!
Be patient with yourself and your students
Lastly, don’t be too tough on yourself, as teachers around the world are all learning how to do this simultaneously. It will take you and your students both time to adjust to learning in this new way. You are not alone and there plenty of high-quality free teaching resources, worksheets and videos online to support you and your classes. The educational technology skills you will pick up on this journey will continue to transform and enrich learning experiences for your classes when you return to the brick and mortar school environment.
About the author: Jessica Bayliss has worked with students and developed ed tech materials for over 15 years. She has taught in elementary schools and tutored students of all ages and has seen first-hand the lack of access to a quality education that many students face. As Vice President of Content for Study.com, Jessica and her team of instructors and subject matter experts help simplify life for teachers by creating lesson plans and other teaching resources so that they can focus on impacting students.