As you probably know, the whole world is trying to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus, and governments are enforcing countrywide lockdowns and enforcing social distancing to limit the spread of the disease. Schools and other educational institutions are closed around the globe and are shifting to online learning to make up for the losses and limit the spread of the virus as well.
The concept of online learning is nothing new, but it has never been ubiquitous at this unprecedented level before. Similar to homeschooling, some teachers and parents have been skeptical about the merits of online learning citing reasons that teaching outside the class isn’t practical, and students don’t learn social skills. That may be true to some extent, but the advantages of online learning outweigh its cons. However, that’s is a discussion we will have later.
Below are some of the best ideas for a better online learning experience, as highlighted by teachers from around the world already experienced in online teaching.
1. Ensure digital equity
The first thing you need to ensure that before providing online lessons is, there should be one computer per person. If that isn’t possible, take the initiative a student has access to one smart device per person. Also, make sure the various apps that are used for online learning work on mobile devices in case it is not possible to ensure one computer per person. As online learning requires the internet, make sure students can assess Wi-Fi at home. If that’s not possible, ask them to make arrangements to buy or rent Wi-Fi hotspots in their districts.
Schools that offer digital learning days have experience in dealing with logistics like home-connectivity and device issues that are a must for a better online learning experience. Schools, teachers, students are other concerned should train themselves regarding the use of various online learning apps and technology tools they may need. Teachers can practice in the classroom and then ask students to try using the tools from home.
3. Communicate your expectations to staff and parents
During a closure, there should be frequent, clear, and concise communication between school administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and students. It is imperative to inform and detail all the parties about how the school will operate in the event of closure. This will ensure that the teachers and parents are on the same page.
4. Plan Well and Ahead
If the school authority has instructed teachers to teach online, and the staff is ready—invest some time to plan. The plan should be well-executed, so even if the planning takes some time, be it, as it will pay off in the long run. Make sure the planning session includes everything from developing teams, solving logistical issues, home support models, setting up Zoom meetings, reporting to larger groups, and so on.
5. Pick the right tools and stick with them
There are many technology tools and apps regarding online learning; many of them are free. With so many options out there, teachers might be tempted to use everything. Instead, we recommend you use a limited number of apps, tools, and platforms you, the students, and their parents are familiar with so as not to overwhelm them. Speaking of online learning, SmileTutor is a pioneer when it comes to online learning and online tuition. We have been an industry-leading online tuition agency with the promise of delivering unparalleled service. We recommend you try our 1-1 online tuition program using Zoom, Google Meets, or Webex.
Furthermore, teachers should keep their online instructions simple, precise, and short. Videoconferencing and video instructions are more effective than text instructions.
6. Be well prepared
Ensure that you’ve everything and access all the tools and technology you need to continue teaching from home in case you aren’t able to return to school or bring your school computer and files to your home. Make sure all the files are backed up in the cloud.
7. Establish daily schedules
When it comes to online learning, expectations should be clear both for teachers and students when they log in. Spending a full workday in front of a computer can be overwhelming for a lot of students and teachers. To make online learning more enjoyable and purposeful, many schools are opting for two check-in times: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They’re also allowing families the flexibility to organize their at-home school schedules.
8. Provide robust learning
In such extreme circumstances, teachers can be tempted to upload worksheets and quizzes for students to complete and return. But, it is important to stress that online earning during a lockdown, particularly during extended closures needs to be engaging to some extent, if not more, to the classroom experience. Or else, the students will suffer. Teachers should be reminded that online learning can never be an excuse to keep students busy by assigning them homework, but they should work on how to make learning more to attain the objectives.
9. Develop independent learning methods
Teachers should assign worksheets or classwork that the students can do by working on their own. Teachers should keep in mind that the student’s parents may be working outside or busy working from home, and they can’t offer much help to their kids with their school lessons.
10. Address emotional issues
Teachers should check it with their coworkers and students and coworkers, and address any feelings of anxiety, especially those who aren’t very familiar or comfortable enough with digital learning tools. Make time to socialize at least virtually, and ask them they need any assistance.