When a school closure is inevitable, what can we do to make sure our students don’t miss out? With Japan and Italy among the growing number of countries shutting schools in the wake of the COVID-19 / Coronavirus outbreak, schools across the globe are making preparations to ensure learning isn’t disrupted. Here are some tips to make sure your students get the most out of virtual learning.
1. Setting up a routine
We all know how much students benefit from a solid routine in the classroom, and the same is true for online learning as well. Set out a clear timetable for assignment deadlines, video conference lessons and group activities, and make sure this is clearly disseminated to all students.
It is also helpful to set up processes for checking in with students and taking attendance at the start of each online activity, as well as checking out at the end of it.
2. The hardware side of things
It’s easy to take for granted that all students have compatible and up-to-date devices for e-learning in the classroom, but that’s not always the case when they’re at home. We don’t want students to miss out on learning because of practical issues that aren’t in their control!
It is always prudent to check with parents and see how the school can support and accommodate students who may have patchy internet connections or older computers that do not support certain programmes.
The most crucial thing that affects how smoothly virtual learning goes is the strength and speed of students’ internet connections, but this is not to say that virtual learning is a no-go if some students don’t have strong and speedy Wifi. Simple compromises can be made, such as using audio instead of video conference calls and using less image-heavy websites and tools.
3. Online safety and cyber wellness
While we teachers know how to keep things professional online, our students think of the internet as a place of fun, so it’s important to remind them that certain rules and precautions must be adhered to when they’re participating in virtual learning.
- Obtain parental and school consent for planned activities and programmes
- Ask students to keep their doors open when video conferencing with other students or teachers, especially for 1:1 online meetings
- Ensure that all online communication is polite
- Only use trusted online tools and programmes to ensure the security of student’s personal information and whereabouts
4. Keeping students motivated and engaged
How can we keep students motivated when they’re not in the classroom? It’s easy for students to feel disconnected because they’re not physically present with their peers and teachers in the classroom, or to not take e-learning seriously because they’re at home.
Keep students engaged by injecting an element of competition into the classroom with competitive game-based learning. Quizalize has both a Team vs. Team and Individual Leaderboard mode that teachers and students love! All you have to do is share your screen with your students while on a video conference, and they’ll be able to see their performance and progress in real time.
5. Channels of interaction and feedback
Virtual learning shouldn’t be a one-way street of teachers feeding an endless amount of content to students. Instead, it should be an interactive and dynamic process, just like in the classroom.
Whether it’s comments on an essay done on Google Docs, a quick check-in via a chat messaging system, or a real-time video lesson with Q&As, keeping up the interaction between teachers and students is crucial to ensuring that online learning is effective. Many LMSes have a built-in feedback system or forum, so make the most of it! And just like in the classroom, students need to know how they’re performing so they can work on improving their weaker areas and get the help they need.
6. Monitor student progress
Of course, to be able to give students timely and pertinent feedback, it’s important to keep tabs on their progress. Our Activity Dashboards and Mastery Dashboards make this a breeze for you — easily track which students need help, what they need help with and improvements the class has made in real-time as your students complete the quiz.
Our Mastery Dashboards track student mastery of curriculum-aligned skills and topics, so you can make sure that test prep doesn’t suffer even though you’re not in the classroom. You can also export results data with the click of a button and save them for future reference!
7. Get creative!
A mandatory period of remote learning is a great opportunity to get creative with teaching strategies and tools that you might not otherwise have the time or capacity to use in the classroom. If you’ve never tried Quizalize, this is the perfect chance for you to do so. Check out 5 ways you can use Quizalize for distance learning here.
Why not use a music video to teach poetry, or a forensics TV show to support a Science lesson about the body? How about a flipped classroom via video call, or new ways of collaborative work? Maybe your students can write quizzes for their peers to complete? The possibilities are endless with virtual learning!
Do you have any tips and tricks to make the most out of virtual learning? We’d love to hear your suggestions and feedback in the comments below!