The move to remote learning has thrown students and educators into a whole new world. To help students, educators must understand potential roadblocks and challenges; then they must come up with creative solutions. To help with that, here are five ways to make distance learning effective for students.
1. Make Sure Students Understand the Tools Given Them
In the past few months, students have had to adjust to a whole new way of learning. This includes mastering new learning management systems and communication tools. Many of them are in entirely new territory; so are their parents. They won’t be able to learn effectively if they can’t navigate these new systems.
Consider holding an orientation session to familiarize students and their parents with these systems. Then work with your district’s IT staff to ensure that students can access support and documentation they might need to succeed.
2. Create Equity for Distance Learners
Not every distance learner is going to have access to the same resources. Educators must work to create equity wherever they can. Consider taking the following actions:
- Encourage your school to provide students in need with laptops, tablets, and hot spots.
- Provide off-line learning options.
- Give multiple options for communicating.
- Make sure technologies are mobile friendly.
- Team up with community centers, libraries, and organizations to help students have regular access to computers, tutors, and other resources.
3. Connect Students with Independent Learning Tools
As distance learning progresses, students’ needs will become more apparent. Some will need extra help. Others will need enrichment to stay engaged. Fortunately, so many organizations and corporations have stepped up to offer resources to help. Here are some great websites for students, whether they need assistance with writing, tutoring, or opportunities to pursue their interests:
- Khan Academy
- National Geographic Kids
- Cool Math
- Google Earth
- Google Arts & Culture
In addition to these, encourage students to find local sources of enrichment. Chances are, local libraries, community colleges, and museums have created programs specifically for distance learners. Older students may be interested in sharing their discoveries with one another.
4. Maintain Live Connections During Distance Learning
It’s important that educators maintain as much of a connection with their students as possible. That can’t be accomplished through prerecorded lessons or interactive worksheets. There’s simply no replacement for live interactions. These help students connect to one another and their instructors.
If possible, teachers should plan to do at least some live instruction. In addition to this, they should make time to connect with students individually. Something as simple as a weekly one-on-one Zoom meeting will allow educators to check in with each student. Use these meetings to assess students in ways that can’t be done through group learning interactions.
Finally, don’t forget that a simple phone call is an easy, accessible way to connect with students. This is the kind of small effort that lets students and parents know that their instructors care enough to reach out to them individually.
5. Be Sensitive and Flexible
Even when accommodations are made to help students overcome barriers to connectivity and technical mastery, students may struggle. Not every student will have a dedicated place to work. They may even feel uncomfortable showing themselves and their living spaces during live classes. Some students may have taken on additional childcare responsibilities due to their parents’ own work obligations.
This is a good time to extend a bit more grace than usual for students who may not have perfect attendance or complete work on time. Also, consider factors such as bullying and family difficulties when establishing rules for group lessons. Students may appreciate having the ability to leave their cameras off or to share an avatar instead of a live feed. If students are struggling with keeping up academically, introduce them to resources such as Grammarly, All Top Reviews, and WhiteSmoke.
As of now, approximately 1.37 billion students worldwide are learning from home. Given the right tools and support, students can thrive during distance learning. However, it does take an effort to ensure that students have what they need to succeed. When instructors are sensitive to potential difficulties, work to ensure they make connections, and use the many tools available, they are best able to help students adjust to this new reality.
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Leona Henryson is a web designer and educational blogger for the Top Writers Review website. She enjoys sharing her experience with students and teachers to help them study in a more effective and fun way.