In the wake of the coronavirus, remote working and distance learning are concepts that are undoubtedly here to stay.
However, the pandemic merely accelerated these tech-led trends, which have been driven by innovation and advancement throughout the digital age. In the case of distance learning, this also helps to meet a number of students’ and school districts’ needs in the current climate, particularly in terms of accessibility.
But what are the best learning strategies for teaching online? Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
#1. Interactive Group Learning
Group learning is not only increasingly viable through remote communication tools such as Zoom, but it also delivers a number of benefits to participating students.
This is certainly thought to refine understanding through continued discussion and explanation, while it also enables group members to provide feedback on performance and output.
But how can you get the most out of group learning? Well, from a teaching perspective, tactical group selection can help to provide more diverse line-ups with variable abilities, strengths and outlooks on specific subjects or topics.
This also tackles the underlying issue caused by familiarity and friendship groups, with younger students particularly likely to gravitate towards their best friends and those who sit within their social circles.
However, this can be counterproductive from the perspective of learning, while the size and composition of groups may also impact the experience of individual learners.
For example, large student groups that are full of friends may ultimately alienate introverted students, while smaller groups could lack the necessary energy or creativity to get the most out of a particular learning experience.
As a general rule, mixed and strategic groups of between four and six people tend to be optimal, depending on the task in question and how the subject matter is presented.
When engaging in group learning, it’s also important that teachers encourage listening as a way of promoting improved information retention. Listening is also a key communication skill, while it has practical benefits such as avoiding interruption, maintaining eye contact and valuing the contribution of others.
#2. Collaborative Learning and the Use of Real-World Simulations
While there are numerous different ways to teach and learn subjects in the digital age, collaborative learning is considered to be one of the most effective methods from the perspective of students.
After all, this is thought to help develop higher-level thinking and improved communication skills, while also increasing student retention and their levels of self-esteem over time.
What’s more, collaborative learning is believed to promote improved student-faculty interaction, which is key to the successful impairment of knowledge in any kind of workplace or college educational environment.
Increasingly, this learning strategy features so-called simulations, which are often based on real-world business scenarios and provide a practical learning experience.
What’s more, this can be enjoyed in a safe and secure environment, while offering a completely interactive and immersive method of teaching a diverse array of subjects to students.
For example, business strategy games such as ‘The Blue Ocean’ simulation replicate practical ideas and market conditions from the corporeal world, before developing virtual scenarios that compel participants to collaborate and make specific decisions.
Whether it’s trying to market a video game console in a competitive marketplace or selling an FMCG product to a demanding buyer, such simulations recreate genuine business challenges that must be overcome in real-time.
Of course, when such challenges are also as relatable as they are realistic, students will be empowered to take more ownership and interest in providing a resolution.
Simulation provides one of the best and most effective online collaborative learning strategies in the digital age, particularly for commercial clients who want to impart practical business skills to employees and students alike.
#3. Students Teach Students
On the subject of creating a sense of responsibility and accountability among students, is there a better way to achieve this than hand them the power to learn and teach alongside their peers?
Make no mistake; empowering students with the trust and responsibility to actively teach their peers is a highly effective learning strategy, particularly from the perspective of ensuring the absorption and retention of information.
By asking students to teach their peers, you’re also trusting that they’re fully capable of disseminating information efficiently, creating a completely unique learning experience in which students take the lead.
Some experts and commentators refer to this as the ‘Jigsaw’ method, where students are placed into groups of between four and six members. Then the learning material is divided into an equal number of parts, with each student tasked with contributing to a collaborative and interactive lesson.
Of course, they’ll also have to research the relevant subject matter and create a formative lesson plan, so it’s best to opt for short and concise teaching segments that can be easily managed.
Of course, another key benefit of this strategy is that such lessons can be delivered just as easily online as in the classroom, thanks to the presence of breakout groups, one-on-one feedback sessions and increased access to independent online research.
In terms of the final, student-led presentations, these can be done collectively through various online platforms, while virtual testing can also be carried out to ensure that the subject matter has been learned in detail.
Interestingly, this also bleeds into the idea of students conducting peer reviews, affording participants even more responsibility and a greater understanding of the learning experience from a teaching perspective.
The Last Word
Ultimately, there are numerous online learning strategies that are widely considered to be highly effective, many of which are collaborative in their nature and involve group participation.
Increasingly, we’re also seeing the emergence of strategies that involve student-led teaching and reviews, making students accountable for their own learning and development path over time.
The key is to compare available online strategies and determine which option best suits the subject matter and learning needs of your students, whether they’re children or looking to develop new, practical skills in a workplace setting.