Teaching in the cloud: How to be present with learners

Ideally, all learners will be able to use web based learning environments responsibly and safely. But as educators, it can be scary to give learners full autonomy in the digital world – not only are they easily distracted and taken off task, we also want to make sure they’re not engaging in risky behavior or viewing materials that are inappropriate for school.

In order to create an environment that is safe and conducive to learning, we have to to find a balance between micromanaging learners’ digital experiences and letting them navigate a digital world without any guidance.

Today’s learners need to develop 21st century skills that enable them to self-assess and self-regulate as they work online.

One of the most important steps you can take to help learners work successfully online is to start off every year with conversations about what’s expected. The emphasis here is on the word conversations – administrators, teachers, learners, and parents should have an open dialogue running about what working and teaching in the cloud looks like. Both learners and teachers should be able to express their concerns about certain online behaviours and explain why they are/are not expected. A great example of this is this learner’s article on the debate within her school between censorship and privacy for learners’ Chromebooks.

It’s also important to let learners know that you are present with them in cloud and to provide them with lots of feedback. Being present is not the same as micromanaging. Instead of dictating what websites learners can visit and when, you can be present while letting them manage their own learning. Tools like Hāpara Highlights and Hāpara Teacher Dashboard make it easy to view learners’ digital learning experiences and offer specific academic praise, encouragement or help where it’s needed.

Building and modeling good habits is a great way to set learners up for successful cloud-based learning. With Dashboard, teachers can see learners’ work across Google Suite. In the beginning of the year, you can focus your support and feedback around the actual processes of working and teaching in the cloud, like using folders to keep work organized, submitting assignments on time, and collaborating with peers effectively. As learners demonstrate their own independence, your feedback can shift away from processes and more towards learning outcomes.


Learn what to focus on when building a culture of digital citizenship, including conversation starters for learners and educators!

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