Learning Put On The Line? Solution: Go Online.

Continue to nurture learners' minds without the limitations of walls. Implement a digital learning strategy to make your school future-ready and disruption-proof.

When factors like a crisis hits a locale, education can be put on hold through interrupted schedules and class suspensions. In the case of COVID-19, when people are asked to stay safely at home for weeks, everything including time seems to have come to a stop. However, instances like this give educators an opportunity to think about ways to extend learning outside the walls of a classroom. This is where distance education comes in.

Distance education or distance learning is a digital strategy that future-ready schools are applying into their systems. In a nutshell, it’s remote-based with flexibility in mind. Lectures, assignments, reports, and tests are carried out online, removing the challenges of commuting and added expenses from the hands of parents and students.

This is also just the kind of learning environment digital natives, where the current generation of learners are, thrive in. UNESCO talked about how to teach these digital natives who need immediacy and mobility prioritized. Because they’re “native speakers of the digital language,” they’re hyper-connected and move quickly from one activity to another – considerations when understanding the best ways to teach them nowadays.

Need a sound learning-from-home system that works for your institution? Check out these tips.

Communicate With Your School Community

When faces are absent, clear and constant communication is more important than ever. Update and utilize your school website, social media accounts, messaging apps, and mobile number to get your community relying on your official channels.

Create internal messaging groups with faculty members for easy sharing of important news and learnings. Reassure parents and students that the channels you’ve set up will be constantly updated and that your school can be quickly reached through them.

Social media may be the easiest to access for teachers, students, and parents, so use it for announcements. Messaging apps can immediately consolidate concerns and feedback, and easily check-in on a class or section. Message blast tools, like AMBER, allow for crucial advisories to reach everyone in your school in a single click. This comes in handy when the government sends notices that will affect your school, or during emergencies and disasters.

School Pro-Tip: Establish multiple official communication channels with the same account names so students and families can find you easily. Ideally, announcements should be posted on each account simultaneously with the exact same message to avoid any confusion.

Create a Sense of Familiarity

We know that online is different from the traditional talk-and-chalk classroom approach, but this doesn’t mean you can’t create the same experience in this realm.

Other than conducting classes on video chats, a way to set familiarity and structure is to encourage teachers and families to create designated work and study areas in their homes. For teachers, a strong and reliable internet connection is required and is something you can help them with. For students, have them situate their study place where the strongest signal or where the computer is. Make sure that room is well-lit and stock it with their textbooks, stationary, and other things to remind them of the school environment.

Another note to consider: a household could have multiple, different-aged students that also have household responsibilities, so be flexible in terms of activities, schedules, and workload. Alongside flexibility, it’s still best for lessons to start at a regular time, ideally similar to your classroom schedule. Being online allows educators to be flexible with their styles so that they don’t have to stick to teaching rigidly as they would in a classroom.

School Pro-Tip: Have faculty meetings via video conferences as well to help teachers become comfortable with using these in their own classes.

Diversify Delivery with Distance Learning Platforms

Put your teachers and students at ease by securing and providing them with a variety of distance learning platforms. Platforms like Edmodo allow educators to communicate, collaborate, and coach as they distribute lessons, tests, and homework and manage communication with the school community. This classroom management tool has launched a distance learning toolkit for educators and administrators, too.

You can also check out these tools and software highly recommended by teachers around the world:

Nearpod allows you to create interactive lessons. It’s easy to enhance lessons with personalized and easy-to-edit videos like Screencastify while delivering lectures online with Google Hangouts. Then, when students and parents need a recap and be given their assignments, use a messaging app like Remind, a communication platform best for remote learning. To make creating, distributing, and grading assignments easy, Google Classroom has aggregating and computing functions to help you.

Don’t forget YouTube and Facebook as possible resources too. You can use these to do live lectures or recorded lessons.

School Pro-Tip: Use a mixture of presentations, video seminars, book references, and hands-on activities if possible, to keep students interested. Remember, they have full access to their personal gadgets and hobbies at home, and it’s next to impossible to ensure that they keep these away during class hours.

Keep Classes & Activities Engaging

With students comfortable in their own home environments during online classes, teachers can easily lose their attention. Utilize interactive tools to make learning fun.

You can hold mini tournaments to earn points and credits to keep them on their toes. Tools like Kahoot or BrainPop are perfect for that. Include making home-video based projects using apps like Seesaw. Seesaw is an online journal that allows students to take and annotate pictures, make videos, and type answers to anything.

PBS LearningMedia‘s interactive lessons make use of a wide range of free topics from the PBS library. Each lesson integrates activities that students can work on individually or in groups, and save for their teachers to view online.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) can continue in a distance learning setting as well. Just as you can use Google Hangouts to be there for your students and maintain your classroom culture, you can provide other ways for students to share and process their emotions while away from school. Using Google Forms, create mood check-ins for students to share their emotional state on a daily basis. Within the form, students can request a conference with the teacher if they need extra support.

School Pro-Tip: Aside from quick form submissions, you can also ask students to submit quick video “confessionals” to get their thoughts on the lesson as well as feedback on the current program.

It’s important to instill the importance of learning and exploration to children; after all, it’s their right to have access to these no matter what situation they are in. So bring education outside the walls of your classroom and equip your school to continue learning no matter the circumstance.

Not sure how to start implementing your distance learning strategy? Schedule a consultation with one of our account managers here.

HELPFUL PRODUCT INFORMATION

Cater to teachers’ immediate need for uninterrupted online connection while teaching from home with the Prepaid Internet Kit. Click here for more information.

Help your faculty stay updated and learn the best practices from each other with G Suite. It offers productivity solutions for email, shared calendar, cloud storage, and much more, including the video conferencing software Google Hangouts Meet. Want to learn more? Click here.

Coordinate everything with your staff even on-the-go using Globe Business Starter 399. Learn more here.

Send important announcements to the entire school community with a single tap with AMBER. More information here.

Edmodo, is a classroom management tool that shares content and communicates with colleagues, parents, and students.

Nearpod is an interactive lesson-creation tool designed to engage students.

Screencastify is a browser plugin allowing teachers to record their screens then edit and share them as HD videos.

Remind is a communication platform made for remote learning.

Google Classroom helps create, distribute, and grade assignments in a paperless way.

Kahoot and BrainPop are a game-based learning platforms.

Seesaw offer built-in annotation tools to capture what students know in Seesaw’s digital portfolio.

PBS LearningMedia offers a diverse media-on-demand digital content library for free.

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