Even during the best of times, we know a teacher’s workflow is extensive. They require juggling teaching and administrative tasks for a class to run smoothly. That doesn’t even include the untold hours outside of teaching, spent prepping, organizing and grading.
Online learning just moves those tasks (and their challenges) online, and now, there’s the addition of helping students navigate these online systems. Papers, in-person resources and organizational systems are now further hampered with the potential for students to be distracted and disengaged, too many tech frustrations and the task of trying to recreate those procedures we all know keep a classroom running.
Trying to just get all students on the same digital page takes up valuable time that could be spent on activities that get and keep students engaged, like opportunities to collaborate. This also makes it hard to have the energy to find new and interesting content or to get the most out of those “motivating” and “engaging” tech tools we keep hearing about or, to even be as thorough and prompt with student feedback as we would like.
This is a huge challenge when shifting to online learning by choice or necessity: how do you build in the supports of the classroom so you can focus on learning and helping learners be successful online? Learning management systems (LMS) can help with the “nuts-and-bolts” of class, but not the personal guidance and established procedures from the in-person experience. Teachers moving to 1:1 or remote learning need tech solutions that make LMSs more, well, manageable and less time-consuming, to simplify you and your students’ lives.
Establishing routines is a common ingredient in efficient classrooms. In person, this means “everything has its place” and there are clear protocols for students to contribute as well as locate, create and return content and materials. Online class routines now consist of content and assignments delivered and received via multiple methods or a maze of websites and apps that all have their own URLS and logins.
Building online class routines that help students become independent and gradually release the responsibility of learning from teacher to learner help teachers get to the business of teaching and assisting those who need more support. Hāpara is a digital tool that takes all the parts of the teacher’s workflow like lesson planning, monitoring student work, teaching assessment, as well as best practices like differentiation, formative feedback and student collaboration and helps you apply them online with a set of products that all work together seamlessly.
Here are the needs and solutions to simplify a teacher’s life in every phase of their work:
Workflow step #1: Content planning and delivery
Teachers have always had to source content and resources to supplement, enhance or further pique student interest in curricula. It is now even more significant to incorporate relevant, standards-aligned and engaging content for students. A teacher’s dream is a source that takes second-guessing out of curating lessons and projects to help bridge the physical distance of online learning.
Hāpara Workspace, a hub for digital assignments, curates thousands of curriculum-aligned lessons and projects that are easily searchable and saved and can be modified to meet specific learner needs. It also integrates a host of adopted platforms and apps like Kahoot and Quizlet that can alone be dizzying to maintain and access for both teachers and students; making these tools easily available to enhance the digital learning experience.
With Workspace, you can also help learners understand requirements for and how to approach an assignment. You can add content details that clearly show learning objectives and goals, differentiate resources by learner needs and communicate expectations with rubrics—increasing your ability to scaffold, schedule and sequence lessons and activities in ways that make learning visual.
Workflow step #2: Making the most of class time
The best classroom routines align with a teacher’s workflow, guiding learners toward more independence and being able to manage their own work and productivity. It is essential to have technology that gives a direct view and access into student browsing activities and work, to gradually develop learner skills and habits and to set and adjust the pace of the classroom. By addressing these needs that shape successful teaching and learning practices, Hāpara helps teachers maximize instructional time.
The ability to sequence content and push out materials, links and references for access outside of the classroom can help learners master materials at their own pace, effectively flipping the realtime classroom and saving class time for assessments or freeing up the teacher to assist students individually.
Similarly, the ability to organize learners with Workspace builds in opportunities for learner choice. Teachers can add a variety of content that is specific to individual needs and abilities or let them choose an assessment that speaks to their strengths from a list of options. Content can be further personalized with more accessible and assistive technologies like adding videos that allow closed captioning. These tools help students buy in to be more motivated, on task and better understand tasks because they are specific to them. They make class time more efficient and streamline the teacher’s workflow.
Even tech features like Highlights, which offers the option to open links across multiple computers rather than have students type in a URL, and has the capacity to share and access documents directly in students’ Google Drive help teachers provide timely feedback and remove any technical barriers to students starting, understanding or completing a task.
These tools work together to provide a view into learner progress and give teachers options and room to decide what methods work best in their classroom for their students, giving learners what they need from a technology and learning perspective, so class time and work outside of the class can be more efficient and effective.
Workflow step #3: Encouraging student success
Above all, teachers want to structure the online classroom in ways that promote student success. A teacher’s ability to successfully “meet students where they are” in terms of digital literacy and personal interests, is only as strong as the tools available to them to personalize content for the range of learner needs and aptitudes. Being able to differentiate learning without stigma, class-wide misunderstandings or a time-consuming system is the great potential of remote learning.
Workspace simplifies the teacher’s workflow by helping teachers differentiate learning. Teachers can curate personalized content for individuals or groups. Additionally, as students collaborate or individually gather resources and materials during class time, Highlights helps limit distractions with views of learners’ open tabs. Teachers can then discreetly communicate on-task behaviors, close tabs if needed and positively guide those who need step-by-step support; which is important for creating a safe digital learning environment, relationship-building and helping all students work toward the gradual release of digital responsibility from teacher to learner.
These tools and Student Dashboard, which helps students organize themselves for learning, set students up for success online in a contained, less stressful and more empowering way. Student Dashboard becomes a student’s “personal organizer,” helping to self-manage productivity so teachers can focus on instruction and support.
Many teachers and students will ultimately “get through” online learning. I’d consider it an accomplishment if the majority of students can access and generally navigate LMSs and any carefully constructed web of edtech apps we use to engage, educate and motivate.
At the end of the term or the school year, you may be amazed at students’ resilience and adaptability. But, if your conferences are anything like mine, you may also hear students report that “the maze of apps, websites and docs” are the “hardest” part of class and wonder how much more you could have achieved without all of that time spent simply learning the system itself. Even time for more dedicated and frequent feedback, which Hāpara’s automation and direct access to student documents in Google Drive frees you up to do, will feel like a win for you and your students.
Benefits of online learning like one-to-one computing, can be transformative. They open access to new ways of learning and a wealth of resources, while also developing students’ technical skills. The same can be true—though research is out on the impact of large-scale moves—of fully remote learning. As teachers help students technically and emotionally navigate new norms, the teacher’s workflow, curating and distributing content and guiding and assessing student work, needs to be efficient in order to be transformative.
Moving learning online should grow, not shrink, opportunities to put strong learning practices into place. Whether creating a flipped classroom, incorporating learner voice and choice or making existing tools more effective, Hāpara can both take the frustration out of digital learning tools and strengthen online learning for students to receive the maximum benefit. It can change the trajectory of the student experience, but that starts with addressing the needs of teachers and the teacher’s workflow.