More than 1.2 billion children worldwide were thrust from the classroom to the computer during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the uncertainty about school returning to normal in the fall, it is imperative teachers prepare for the continuation of virtual learning.
In the spring, most educators had to quickly adapt lessons, resulting in a host of mixed platforms and a steep learning curve for everyone involved. Now, with more time to prepare, teachers can make use of the top tech and tools for teaching virtually.
Top tech tools
Having effective, easy-to-understand tech tools is necessary for the backbone of any virtual learning environment. Using the right platforms can be the difference between fun, interactive and interesting lessons versus half the class time spent mitigating technology issues.
Wakelet allows teachers or students to organize and curate collections filled with videos, websites, articles, and even social media posts. This tool is perfect for teachers looking to present comprehensive lessons. Students can click on one link and access all of the information they need about the day’s lesson.
Edpuzzle gives teachers the power to offer highly interactive lessons with supercharged video. Educators can add questions (multiple choice or short answer), prevent students from skipping, and track student participation. This tool is invaluable for allowing teachers to conduct quick assessments and ensure student engagement.
Submit is Screencastify’s newest product that allows teachers to generate a link. When students click on the link, they’re able to record their screen or webcam.
That’s it – students don’t need to download an extension, create a profile or an app for their phone. This is a safe, easy, and secure way for students to create videos on their time to share with teachers and classmates – and with everything saved onto the user’s Google Drive.
Remind is a messaging platform that allows teachers to create classes and invite participants – students, parents, or colleagues.
Educators can then text or email everyone registered in a class or just a subset, or individual. This is a game-changer since so many students are completing remote learning assignments on their cellphones.
Nearpod turns a simple PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation into an interactive experience. Teachers can add questions to determine student proficiency, add polls, or even lead students through a walking tour of various places for a virtual field trip experience.
Top remote learning tips
While having the best virtual learning technology is half the battle, you also need a solid strategy for dealing with the distance inherent in online education, the learning curve and scheduling snafus.
Provide clear direction
Remote learning is hard for everyone involved. Things get just a bit easier when students (and their parents) know exactly what they need to do. Use one of the tools above to create quick videos that explain the directions for completing assignments.
When applicable, teachers can even include screencasts that walk their students through how to use the tools they’ll need to complete the assignment. When teachers provide clear directions, students and their parents are set up for success.
Connect with parents more
When students are learning from home, parents serve as de-facto co-teachers. Helping them understand everything that’s happening in the virtual classroom and how they can help is invaluable.
If you can, provide your contact info and virtual office hours for parents to reach out. If you’re willing, it may even be a good idea to reach out to parents proactively.
Coordinate with co-workers
Realize that your students are juggling multiple classes and commitments. Talking with co-workers is important to ensure students have sustainable workloads, major projects aren’t scheduled concurrently and Zoom sessions don’t conflict.
In a remote environment, it’s often impossible to achieve the same things you’re able to in a traditional setting. It may take students longer to complete work, or some activities may need to be adapted to fit the online space.
It’s hard for students to navigate a ton of different tools, especially when teachers aren’t there to troubleshoot. It is recommended using just a few tools and using them well. Students are more comfortable when they know what to expect and how to interact with the various tools in use.
The educational world and the world at large are being changed by the COVID-19 crisis. No one is sure exactly what the future for education looks like, but thankfully with smart planning and new technology tools, teachers can be ready for whatever the new school year might bring.