An educator with experience in distance learning shares what he’s learned: Keep it simple, and build in as much contact as possible. The coronavirus has caused widespread school closures for an unknown duration. Teachers are scrambling to find ways to support students from afar through distance and online learning. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this daunting task, you’re certainly not alone.
1. Simplicity Is Key
Every teacher knows what it’s like to explain new instructions to their students. It usually starts with a whole group walk-through, followed by an endless stream of questions from students to clarify next steps. While this process can be frustrating at times, students can always rely on each other and the teacher in the room when they’re stuck. As a result, simplicity is key. It is critical to design distance learning experiences that have very clear instructions and utilize only one or two resources.
2. Establish a Digital Home Base
In the spirit of simplicity, it’s vital to have a digital home base for your students. This can be a district-provided learning management system like Canvas or Google Classrooms, or it can be a self-created class website. I recommend Google Sites as a simple, easy-to-set-up platform. You need a single digital platform that your students can always visit for the most recent and up-to-date information. The farther away you are from your students, the more important it is to cultivate stability and practice norms.
3. Prioritize Longer, Student-Driven Assignments
Efficiency is key when designing distance learning experiences. Planning is going to take more time and require a high level of attention to detail. You will not be able to correct mistakes on the fly or suddenly pivot when kids are disengaged. To effectively manage your time and sanity, you will want to prioritize longer, student-driven assignments and tasks that buy you time to keep planning future units—and that get your students off the computer.
4. Individual Touch Points Are Game-Changers
What your students will miss the most is the human connection that is cultivated in your classroom. The little interactions you have with them in the hallways, before and after class or during breaks in lessons, are irreplaceable. While it can be tempting to focus on content in your distance learning assignments and instructional videos, what matters more is creating structures for personalized touchpoints with your students. You can create these touchpoints through any medium you like: emails, video messages, phone calls, messages through your learning management system, comments on shared documents, etc.
The information for this post was taken from an article by Kareem Farah in edutopia, follow this link for more details and the complete article.