When schools are forced to close their doors, moving work into the cloud can be challenging if schools don’t have a strategy in place. However, with a little bit of planning and the right tools, remote learning can present a lot of great opportunities for learning that are unavailable in the traditional classroom.
Strategies for teaching and learning from home
Luckily, teaching and learning from home doesn’t require as much as you may think. It’s really just a matter of getting organized and accessing the right resources–just like you would in your regular classroom.
A successful remote learning environment requires a way to:
- Meet and communicate with learners
- Distribute and collect assignments
- Provide formative feedback and assessments
- Personalize learning–flexibility is key!
Meeting and communicating with learners
Just because teachers and learners aren’t on campus doesn’t mean they have to stop meeting. Hāpara and G Suite make it possible for teachers and learners to continue meeting in the cloud. Continuing to have face-to-face meetings online, or even on the phone, is important when learners may be feeling anxiety about learning outside of school walls. Google Hangouts Meet makes it possible for teachers and learners to have class meetings, individual tutoring sessions and share their screens during live lessons. And, just because you’re teaching online doesn’t mean you have to sit stationary behind the computer. We love teachers like this one, that are keeping the learning experience engaging and fun!
@AdaNiermeier making her Book Week story even more engaging by playing a trumpet and dressing as a character from one of her favourite stories. 🐖🎺 #learningforlife #schoolclosure pic.twitter.com/NMAPsMbJKt
— SJSESF (@sjsesf) March 6, 2020
Since a high-speed wifi connection is not a reality for every learner, it’s important to be flexible when it comes to class or individual meetings. One great alternative is a Google Voice number. This allows teachers and learners to communicate over the phone if necessary, and this way they don’t have to give out their personal phone numbers.
Written communication also plays an extremely important role in remote teaching and learning.
G Suite tools like Gmail allow teachers to send in-depth communications and announcements to learners and their families. Hāpara Teacher Dashboard makes it easy to do this with Student Tiles, which are organized by student and allow teachers to quickly send out an email. Sending a daily email with class expectations and a list of tasks to be completed is a good way to help keep learners on track while they are working from home. Teachers can also send out announcements via Google Classroom about due dates or meeting reminders. All of these communications show up in learners’ Hāpara Student Dashboards allowing them to see it in one, organized place. Student Dashboard is mobile-friendly, so even if learners don’t have a computer at home, they can access it on a cell phone and see all of their teacher announcements and messages.
Maintaining relationships with learners is more important than ever when students are learning remotely. They need to feel supported during remote learning and know that they can come to their teacher with questions and concerns about how to manage their learning at home. In cases where remote learning takes place because of a public health crisis or natural disaster, students may even need emotional support. Ongoing check-ins are critical to the success of learning from home. Teachers may check in with a learner to gauge their progress on an assignment, or just to ask how they are doing–both are equally important. Since not all home learning situations are created equal, being flexible and finding the best way to communicate with each individual learner and their family is what will build clear and consistent communication that is truly conducive to learning from home.
Distributing and collecting assignments
When making the shift to remote learning, many classroom teachers wonder how they will distribute and collect assignments. It’s a valid concern because assigning and collecting student work is part of the everyday school workflow. Many teachers have already gone paperless in their classrooms by having learners work in Google Docs and Slides, and using tools like Hāpara Smart Share and Workspace to push out assignments, so this may not seem like such a great barrier for some. Using the Share Files button in Teacher Dashboard, teachers can quickly share out assignments with learners and specify who receives the file, where it is stored and how learners can interact with the file. This makes it possible to create assignments with clear expectations so learners don’t get lost in a sea of files.
– Ashley Newman, middle school English teacher, Winchester, VA, USA
– Ashley Newman, middle school English teacher, Winchester, VA, USA
Providing formative feedback and assessment
Providing formative feedback is critical in any learning environment because students have to know where they stand in order to make progress and learn. Without it, it’s like running a race blindfolded. You can keep running as fast as possible, but how will you know where the finish line is if you can’t see it? It’s even more important when a student is learning from home because they don’t have the normal daily interactions with peers and teachers. Timely feedback to let them know they are doing well, or to redirect them if they aren’t “getting it,” will ensure that their learning continues wherever they are.
In Teacher Dashboard, teachers can quickly access learner assignments and leave comments. Remember that feedback should be as specific as possible, timely and ongoing, target the task, focus on the process and involve the learner.
In addition to giving formative feedback, it’s important to check in on how learners are doing with assignments and record their grades while they are at home. It is natural for there to be a lot of hiccups with online learning when students and teachers first begin, so making sure they are on the right track in a timely manner will ensure the success of remote learning. Teacher Dashboard allows teachers to view learners’ Google Drive files any time–they don’t have to wait for learners to share them. This way teachers can check in and redirect students if necessary. Teachers can also record a grade once a learner submits an assignment in Workspace.
As educators, we know that the needs of every single learner are different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that every child will benefit from. If you still hold the belief that you can create one lesson for a classroom full of kids and expect them all to complete it in the same way, it’s time to let go of that mindset–especially if your school has shifted to remote learning because of an emergency. The times that we are living in call for lots of flexibility and differentiation for every learner. This may mean pairing students to work together or in Workspace Groups; allowing learners to create their own cards in a Workspace for independent research projects, or providing accommodations like an audio file for directions instead of text. All of this can easily be accomplished in a Workspace. As you begin to venture into remote learning it’s important to have conversations with learners and their families about what they want their learning journey to look like. This will ensure long-term success and interest in learning.