There is no question that life changed dramatically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and one of the biggest transformations can be felt in the realm of K-12 education. With over 100,000 schools closing their doors to try to stem the spread of the virus, teachers and students alike were plunged into the world of distance learning. Although some were well-prepared, for many schools and districts this was a major new challenge.
The widespread school closures and lockdowns represented many people’s first experience with distance learning. Although technical readiness and school and teacher preparedness presented many challenges, certain benefits of distance learning became clear: if schools can successfully implement online and hybrid learning environments, they will be better prepared to handle all sorts of school closures, such as from extreme weather events, and better serve individual students staying home for illness in the future. Additionally, many districts were able to leverage CARES Act money to purchase chromebooks and other devices for students and expand internet capabilities. These changes will have benefits for years to come.
This has led to a renewed interest in online learning. Although no one can say for certain how many schools will be open and in-person this academic year, one thing is for certain: the increasingly widespread availability of device and internet access enables a lot of effective ways to engage students in non-traditional learning environments.
Distance Learning vs Online Learning
The terms “distance learning” and “online learning” are often used interchangeably, but there are some important distinctions. Both types of learning require the use of similar online learning tools, but the place where the learning takes place differs. In online learning, students might be in a classroom with their instructor while working on digital lessons. With distance learning, students work online at home while their teacher assigns work and checks in with them digitally.
There are also differences in the way teachers and students interact. Online learning entails in-person interaction between teachers and students on a regular basis. With distance learning, learning may be largely asynchronous, with fewer direct interactions among students and teachers, utilizing digital forms of communicating such as video calls, discussion boards and approved messaging apps.
Tips For Teachers To Succeed With Distance Learning
Many teachers were not familiar with distance learning prior to the spring closures. Distance learning presents its own set of challenges. Here are some tips for success in teaching students remotely and making the most of the potential advantages it offers.
Focus On The Needs Of Each Individual Student
Educators recognize the value in focusing on the unique learning needs of each student. Asynchronous learning opportunities presented by distance learning can enable teachers to better customize lessons for groups of students with differing needs. Check-ins with students needing attention can be conducted while other students are working on their assignments without the effect of disrupting the entire class.
Understand Each Student Has Their Own Unique Home Situation
Students’ home situations can vary greatly. Parents and other caregivers may or may not be available or able to assist students with technical concerns and ensure they are staying on top of their assignments. Many students require additional attention and support to stay on top of their work without the structure of the classroom.
In addition, technical barriers associated with devices and internet connectivity can make it harder for some students to meet deadlines. Many successful teachers provide additional flexibility when teaching remotely, while still holding students accountable through empathetic outreach for those struggling to keep up.
Continue To Provide Meaningful Academic Feedback
Teachers successfully deploying distance learning maintain connections with their students and provide them with meaningful academic feedback beyond grades and scores. Distance learning also presents a great opportunity to ask students to give feedback and demonstrate learning in flipped-classroom models.
Utilize Engaging Tools Such As Online Educational Games As A Resource
Over 90% of school-age kids play video games regularly. Weaving online educational games into lessons can be a great way to boost engagement and maintain student attention while learning remotely.
Group games can also be a great way to build community and offer students an opportunity to socialize with their peers. Many companies offer games that are aligned with curriculum so students can learn essential material in ways that maintain their engagement.
Reach Out To Legends of Learning For More Information
Legends of Learning is committed to helping teachers make diverse learning environments productive for their students. If you would like to learn more about exciting new ways of engaging your students in remote learning, reach out to the experts in online educational games at Legends of Learning for more information by contacting them here.