The challenge of teaching in a digital classroom is unquestionable. This is especially true for most educators who suddenly had to adjust with very little preparation. Distance learning, in various forms, is here to stay. But here are a few tips for making that change easier yet still maintaining the quality of learning.
Keep it simple
- Encourage indepth, project-based learning; avoid short daily worksheets.
- Pose real-world problems and have student investigate solutions. Assessment will be more efficient with fewer but more extensive results. Students will feel their work is authentic and worthwhile.
Set a home base
- Have an online place and time where students know you’ll be regularly available. Microsoft Teams, OneNote Class Notebook, and Google Classroom are some of the digital meeting spots especially created for education. Here teachers can communicate, distribute, and grade assignments. TechnoKids offers step-by-step support for setting up a Google Classroom and Class Notebook with specific instructions for sharing TechnoKids files.
- Modify the long-range plans or learning objectives that were designed for a physical classroom. In place of specific outcomes, develop a general expectation that students can readily achieve.
- Look for activities that can be easily done online and let go or reschedule those that are difficult to do remotely.
- Encourage students to complete projects in the learning style that works for them. They may prefer to make a video or create a slide show presentation instead of writing a report.
- Allow for student choice. If your school or district has proposed an app that a student finds frustrating to use, find an alternative. They may prefer or are familiar with another alternative. The great variety of devices available for students, from desktop computers to tablets or maybe even smartphones are a huge challenge to accommodate. But students may feel more comfortable or be able to work better using what they know rather than what the school provides, whether it’s a device or a software application. It is the final result that counts!
- Use a variety of teaching strategies. Keep instructional videos to a minimum. Engage student involvement with polls and questions. Ask for feedback from your students as to what they find most effective.
- Encourage creative thinking to keep students engaged.
- Invite students who have technical expertise to be coaches to help support and troubleshoot with their peers.
Prioritize individual connections
- Promote regular group chats, discussions, and even individual communication as needed. What students miss most about not going to a conventional classroom is the social interaction.
- Propose group or pair projects to encourage collaboration. Take advantage of technology to highlight the ease and benefits of teamwork. Allow students to edit each other’s work and share their finished documents online. Establish commenting guidelines and etiquette to offer encouragement and helpful advice. TechnoDebate and TechnoBlog are TechnoKids projects that promote collaboration and digital citizenship.
- Assign reflection journals to let students know their feelings are important. Respond with specific, personalized feedback.
- Ensure students receive routine positive reinforcement and can consistently achieve some level of success. They need feedback to optimize their engagement in online learning.
Engage Students in Remote Learning
For more suggestions and tips to deal with online learning, see our previous blog How to Engage Students in Remote Learning. In the post, we have included specific resources that help educators teach technology skills in a virtual classroom.