A year ago educators would never have imagined that seemingly overnight, they would have to transform their classroom into a digital format, having to recreate their lessons and teaching strategies to fit into a distance learning model because of a global pandemic. As schools resume their sessions this fall, many districts have chosen to remain completely remote for the time being. Others have opted to go back to face-to-face learning with the underlying knowledge that they may have to return to a distance learning format depending on the amount of COVID cases in their location. Even with the unpredictability of the current situation, one thing is for certain, remote learning will remain a significant practice in education for a long time to come.
There is a definite learning curve to online teaching because it presents a whole new way to deliver content, communicate, assess, and build relationships with learners. Fortunately, there are several tools and strategies that teachers can use to help them survive during remote learning and provide an effective educational environment for their learners. G Suite for Education and Hāpara are both convenient learning platforms that help teachers not only survive remote learning but thrive during this transition. Continue reading for tips on how to use these tools to survive remote learning.
Strategies to help create effective online lessons
Creating engaging online lessons and units is an essential component of surviving remote learning. G Suite for Education features several applications teachers can use to create engaging lessons for both asynchronous learning, (when learners access content and complete learning tasks independently on their own time), and synchronous learning, (when the teacher and students meet live at the same time online). One great way teachers can create online lessons is by using Google Slides. On the slideshow, teachers can input the subject area content they want to discuss, as well as embed images and videos to enhance student understanding. The teacher can then present the slideshow during a synchronous class meeting, or they can use it to create an asynchronous lesson. One simple way to create asynchronous lessons is using the Google Chrome extension, Loom, to record your voice over the lesson that was created in Google Slides. The teacher can post the lesson in Google Classroom, and students can then access it independently, pausing and rewinding as needed to fully comprehend the content. Google Classroom is one easy-to-use platform teachers can use to conduct synchronous lessons, as well as post asynchronous lessons, videos, announcements and discussions into one central area.
Hāpara is another user-friendly platform that organizes all learner work from the G Suite applications into one location, making it a convenient space to create and access lessons. Hāpara Workspace is a particularly useful tool that enables teachers to combine resources for an entire unit so students understand the “bigger picture” of the learning objective. In the Workspace, teachers can post the unit learning target along with lesson resources such as articles and videos. Students are also able to access their assignments and scoring rubrics within Workspace.
Tips for assessing student learning remotely
Another strategy to help teachers successfully survive the transition to remote learning is to use digital tools to assess student progress. G Suite for Education offers a variety of applications students can use to demonstrate their understanding of content. Through Google Classroom, teachers can assign and access learning tasks, observe when students turn in assignments and communicate with them in real-time through commentary and suggestions. As an English teacher, I create a majority of my assignments using Google Docs. I am able to access student work as they are working on it and suggest edits on essays and other assignments in real-time. Teachers can also assess student learning through Google Slides by having students create slideshow presentations, and they can assign surveys or weekly check-ins using Google Forms, and easily create quizzes and tests that can be posted in the Classroom and automatically graded.
Hāpara works simultaneously with G Suite for Education to help teachers monitor and assess student progress. All of the assignments in Google Classroom are embedded in the Hāpara Workspace, so students can access their assignments there, as well as scoring rubrics and resources needed to complete the assignments proficiently. Hāpara Teacher Dashboard permits teachers to access and organize all student work from Google Drive, and from there, teachers can easily share resources and offer immediate feedback to students just by clicking on their individual tile. One particularly useful Dashboard function is the ability to differentiate assignments by creating unique learning groups, so you can assign specific assignments to English Language Learners, students with IEPs, etc. Highlights is another Hāpara tool that helps assess student learning as it allows teachers to monitor and facilitate student browsing in Google Chrome. If students are off task, teachers can see what they are searching for and redirect them – helping to promote responsible and effective research habits.
Tools you can use to build strong student relationships
Perhaps one of the most important strategies for surviving the transition to remote learning is cultivating strong student relationships. Promoting a positive learning community can help students still feel a connection to their school.
Google Meet is a G Suite video conferencing tool that allows you to meet live with learners, who can easily access the video link to each class meeting from Google Classroom. Teachers can help students during live sessions by answering questions and reinforcing concepts learned during the asynchronous lessons, as well as focusing on social-emotional learning activities to foster relationships. One way I get my students to participate, and get to know them better in the online environment, is to have a simple check-in question at the beginning of class where everyone unmutes themselves and shares out. If your district requires you to take attendance during remote learning, the Google Chrome extension, Google Meet Attendance, is very helpful. This application lists all the students on your roster who attended the live meeting and records the time they logged in and out of the class.
Another way to enhance student engagement and build relationships is by offering timely feedback and commentary on their work. Responding to students and offering them encouragement adds another facet of communication when teachers and students are unable to interact face-to-face. Mote is a unique Google Chrome extension that allows you to leave a voice recording with your commentary on assignments, rather than typing feedback. This makes it more personable for the students because they can respond verbally as well.
Although remote learning comes with its challenges, there are so many useful strategies and tools to help make E-Learning successful and meaningful for both learners and teachers. Convenient online platforms like Hāpara and G Suite for Education can help teachers survive and progress successfully through the transition to remote learning.