A Short Guide to Distance Learning Strategies for Educators
Undeterred by the current state of the world, many determined schools and educators are pressing on with the school year and moving classrooms online. It is a massive change to the established routines that both teachers and students have practiced for years. Yet thanks to technology it is possible to teach effectively over long distances and ensure that a student’s education is not put on hold. Here are some strategies that can help you better navigate the opportunities and disadvantages of the online-only world of distance education.
Use Interactive Teaching Tools
Don’t think that you can hold your class’ attention online by just speaking into a microphone and camera. The American Journal of Distance Education notes how success in the digital classroom depends largely on how well distance learners are able to regulate learning efficiently – and that distance learning entails greater responsibility from students than educators, unlike in traditional physical classrooms wherein it’s the other way around. This is why it’s important to find ways for online lectures to be interactive and be unlike any other online video that your students can just play in the background as they go about their business.
The good news is that today is an exciting time for innovative education technology, and there are a variety of interactive online teaching tools that educators can choose from. This is why HP advises using Pear Deck for slide presentations, a dynamic online teaching platform that lets your students directly add drawings, notes, and numbers on the lecture slides. They can also drag and drop symbols and even answer multiple-choice questions. Integrated with Newsela, Google Slides, Google’s Be Internet Awesome program, and Encyclopedia Britannica, Pear Deck also comes with interactive daily learning topics that can supplement your curriculum. With its different interactive tools, this is the type of platform that can help ensure that not only are all students engaged during classes, but are also actively involved in the development of their own online class curriculum.
Encourage Online Non-Academic Bonding Sessions
Even before the current crisis happened, social media had been a primary form of digital interaction, communication, and news-sharing among young people. The New York Times details how students on college campuses rely on social media to create private and safe spaces where they can discuss everything – from worries related to exams to issues affecting the globe. Today, in the era of physical distancing, social media is more important for peer-to-peer interaction than ever before. This is why encouraging non-academic bonding sessions for students online is a crucial part of distance education. It’s simply easier to learn in an environment where students feel safe and secure, and providing them with that environment includes live online interactions where students can simply communicate without being distracted by class work. Apart from creating and letting students moderate class-based Facebook groups where they can share comments and memes, this can also include Zoom or Discord rooms for video interaction.
Involve Students’ Parents and/or Guardians
While there are plenty of available digital tools for teachers to create and develop online curricula, the reality is that distance learning setups can be highly taxing for everyone involved. The Atlantic points to this simple reason as the culprit for why many parents are skeptical of online classrooms. At the same time however, this situation also presents an opportunity for both teachers and parents to explore new modes of at-home education. For instance, instead of a curriculum that requires students to sit in front of the computer for hours, an alternative is for teachers to train parents in how to educate their kids at home, provide custom lesson plans, and be available for parents who need assistance. While this entails the heavy participation of parents and/or guardians, it could fix the problem of distance learners spending too much time in front of screens, and may also strengthen bonds between parents/guardians and their children.