Teaching During A Pandemic And Distance Learning

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Let us take a look at 7 tips that will undoubtedly help teachers to create the best possible outcomes!

Be Optimistic!

The basic idea is about being positive whenever we are around our students. The pandemic might have given us a bad taste in our mouth, but at the same time, the students are also equally beneficiaries of the havoc the pandemic has created. So, when we are in our online classrooms, be happy and positive. There probably can be a multitude of issues with setting up an online class. The internet bandwidth might not be helping us to communicate, or the students might be attentive throughout the class. Whatever the issues that might arise, stay calm and confident. Never pass any negative comments about the process of education which is happening right now. When we teachers seem to be satisfied and optimistic about the change in-scenario, students will also feel comfortable with it. But if we as teachers keep complaining about the difficulties, we have to undergo for the sake of having classes online, students will only feel more and more stressed.

Using phrases like, “When we’re back in class together next year” and addressing the future with positivity can boost student morale and keep their spirits up. The happier your students are, the harder they will work in class.

Practice and keep practicing!

When the teacher is happy and optimistic about the change of scenario, then the first thing to be done is to start practicing and get better! Since online teaching is new for most teachers, we have to follow the golden rule passed over for generations. If we need to be good at something, keep practicing. Keep on practicing and making things better each day.

Practice making videos for your classes. Practice different lighting and sound setups so your students can get the most out of your videos. Practice making answering student e-mails a regular part of your day. Practice having online hours to speak with your students. Practice making a new curriculum that will teach your students what they need to know amidst the crisis the world is facing. Practice using apps and teaching your students how to use the technology they will need to continue getting an education during distance learning.

Have a plan about how to keep things more interesting and alive. Keep on updating various innovations and practice using them.

Communicate with the students

Talk to students about how things are going with them. They are away from the normal classroom and school. They have started studying at home. The timetables are different. The way they make use of their free time has changed, and so on. Things are different and try to address the shift they are facing. Address the issues that are happening with Corona around. The research that is happening for the vaccine. Remind your students that it’s good to be informed about world events, but that fixating on news articles about COVID-19 can do more harm than good. Suggest only reading articles about the virus once a day and only from credible sources like the World Health Organization. This will help prevent the spread of misinformation and reduce stress.

Be Available!

Even though after being months into online classes, students still might have a lot of questions about how online classes stack up to their in-person counterparts. And communication becomes the key to help them out.

To communicate more effectively, the teacher should be available for students for a particular time, other than the regular class hours. Sending out a weekly e-mail detailing new videos, readings, and assignments for the coming weeks can also be incredibly helpful for keeping students organized. Having online office hours will also be a game-changer for both teachers and students during the coronavirus pandemic.

And now, when the teacher is available, try to communicate effectively. As teachers continue to transition to online classes, students are going to have a boatload of questions to ask. What’s changed in our class? What’s due and when? Is there any make-up work I can do to help boost my grade? How can I cope with depression while trying to get my schoolwork done? What classes will be live and what won’t? How are exams going to work during the pandemic? Does our curriculum still apply?

The teacher can help them with their queries and make them comfortable with innovations. Having the teacher explain things in a much friendly manner will only result in comforting the student and boosting confidence for school.

Create a sense of community

Online classes are an isolated setup. Being alone in school is entirely new for the kid. So, teachers should try to create a sense of community, even though it is completely virtual. Our students are used to being in a community atmosphere when they are in class. They are used to seeing their friends and having assignments with other students. The sudden shift to social isolation can leave our students feeling downcast, which can distract them from learning. Some teachers create a WhatsApp group for the class, that students may exchange their numbers and stay in contact with each other.

Make a routine

As we said about practice, so should we be more interested in keeping up a routine. Being teachers, we know how easily kids can get distracted with other things if we are not motivating and inspiring them to nail down their routines of studying and getting prepared for the class. Children thrive when they have consistency and routine in their lives. Once you make a class schedule, do not deviate from it. Something that is introduced as a new approach should only be introduced after having thorough research. Once something is introduced and the students start using it, do not change or shift to something new suddenly.

Keep up with a routine of how things happen. Jumping from things, especially when it is with technological kinds of stuff, kids can easily get distracted.

So, to be sure implement a routine with your virtual class!

Assign work that matters!

This particular context of time has got many students to experience stress and anxiety over their future, and teaching online during COVID-19 should never be the time to assign students with busywork. Make sure to provide accurate, helpful, and engaging materials. For example: try these methods:

Assign stimulating or creatively challenging homework.

Have regular live-chats or video tutorials to ensure your students are grasping the work assigned.

Try being funny and engaging as you teach.

Break learning up into smaller sessions, or sizeable chucks that are easily digested by anxious students.

It can also be helpful to acknowledge a student’s work, commenting on what they did right and what they can improve at. Knowing that a student has your attention and is being assigned goals will help keep them motivated.

So, just having a very good understanding of the uncertainties that are linked to the student’s life can help the teacher in being better prepared for making things easier for them. The 7 tips which I have just mentioned are very good recommendations from teachers across the world, who have tried implementing these, only to see wonderful progress in their students and the way they react to online classes.

Now, the most important part of this episode is in introducing and acquainting teachers with the different platforms that offer a sophisticated and effective interface for the teachers and students to have a good time learning.

I will be suggesting a few educational applications, platforms, and resources below that aim to help parents, teachers, schools and school administrators facilitate student learning and provide social care and interaction during periods of school closure. Most of the solutions curated are free and many cater to multiple languages. These tend to have a wide reach, a strong user-base, and evidence of impact. They are categorized based on distance learning needs, but most of them offer functionalities across multiple categories.

There are different categories of platforms which the UNESCO has studied and promoted. We will be taking a look at 3 of them. Here we go!

First, let us take a look at some Digital Learning Management Systems

A Few of them are:

  1. CenturyTech: CENTURYTECH is the tried and tested intelligent intervention tool that combines learning science, Artificial Intelligence, and neuroscience. They are personal learning pathways with micro-lessons to address gaps in knowledge, challenge students, and promote long-term memory retention. They support teacher interventions.
  2. ClassDojo: It connects primary school teachers, students, and families through communication features, such as a feed for photos and videos from the school day, and messaging that can be translated into more than 35 languages.
  3. Google Classroom: Now, Google Classroom is a free web service developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. It helps classes connect remotely, communicate, and stay organized.
  4. Edmodo: Edmodo is an educational technology company offering a communication, collaboration, and coaching platform to K-12 schools and teachers. Their network enables teachers to share content, distribute quizzes, assignments, and manage communication with students, colleagues, and parents. They take the ideas of a social network and refine them and make them appropriate for a classroom.
  5. Schoology: Yet another, and a final platform that I will introduce in this category is Schoology, which is a social networking service and virtual learning environment for K-12 schools and higher education institutions that allow users to create, manage, and share academic content. They intend to power the education ecosystem with unified technology that helps educators and students realize their potential.

Second category, we shall have a look at some Self-directed learning content

  1. BYJU’S: BYJU’S is the world’s most valuable ed-tech company and the creator of India’s most loved school learning app. Launched in 2015, BYJU’S offers highly personalized and effective learning programs for K-12 and aspirants of competitive exams. With 50 million registered students and 3.5 million paid subscriptions, BYJU’S has become one of the most preferred education platforms around the globe.
  2. LearnEnglish Kids: This platform supports parents whose children can’t go to school at the moment. They have tips and advice about helping children practice their English at home. This is an initiative by the British Council. They have lots of free online games, songs, stories, and activities for children. For parents, they have articles on supporting children in learning English, videos on using English at home, and information about English courses for their child.
  3. Onecourse: Onecourse is a comprehensive, modular course for children. Children learn to read, write, and become numerate on tablets by working through a carefully structured course made up of thousands of engaging activities, games, and stories. Onecourse is designed to be adapted into many different languages also.
  4. Discovery Education: Through this platform, the students could explore resources and instructional materials about viruses and outbreaks. With the recent spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), students need to learn about the science behind viruses and understand individual measures that can be taken to limit exposure and spread. This collection of resources provides timely updates regarding the coronavirus, describes what a virus is and how it spreads, offers an overview of the history of viruses and outbreaks around the world, and reveals essential guidelines for staying healthy.
  5. Duolingo: Duolingo is an application to support language learning. They provide personalized education, for everyone learns in different ways. They support numerous base and target languages. The approach they have received is interesting for they have incorporated games, which would help students to learn a new language through playing games!

Lastly, we are going to discuss a few platforms that act as tools for teachers to create digital learning content.

  1. Nearpod: Nearpod is a kind of technology-integrated learning environment that allows teachers to create presentations, interactive activities, and assessments, organized in lessons. Several formats are supported including some form of virtual reality (VR) lessons. Each of these can be inserted into a slide. Lessons exported to students can run as mobile applications or as a web client. Student activities can be tracked, e.g. the teacher can see activity completion.
  2. Pear Deck: Pear Deck offers a web-based application for K-12 schools and teachers. They create flexible content-area templates so the teacher can easily insert beautiful, instructional-effective prompts into any lesson. Editable and adaptable, they’re ready to be mixed, matched, and dropped into the lessons (new or existing). To supplement those prompts, they use trusted sources to create meaningful, ready-to-teach activities.
  3. EdPuzzle: Edpuzzle is an easy-to-use platform allowing you to engage every student, one video at a time. They unlock the power of videos through simple editing tools and dazzling student data. The process is simple – find a video, add questions, and assign it to your class. Watch as they progress and hold them accountable for their learning journey.
  4. Kaltura: Kaltura Video Cloud Platform for Education is a single platform purposefully built to power real-time, live, and VOD (Video On Demand) experiences for online programs and virtual learning. The Kaltura Video Platform for Education includes a range of products for virtual classrooms, lecture capture, webinars & live events, and student outreach — all designed to create engaging, personalized, and accessible experiences on campus and beyond. They have virtual classrooms with advanced moderation controls, collaborative tools like a whiteboard, screen share, content management playlist, breakout rooms, interactive live quizzing, and HD video sharing.
  5. Squigl: Squigl uses Artificial Intelligence to associate animated images from its library with keywords that it selects from your text. Those images are human drawn or render in accordance with neuroscientific guidelines for maximum attention and retention. Squigl automatically synchronizes voiceover with the video timeline to generate highly effective content. While Squigl can do everything for you, it also gives you full control over editing every aspect of your project.
  6. Trello: This is the final platform that I will introduce and recommend. Trello is a visual collaboration tool used by teachers and professors worldwide for easier coursework planning, faculty collaboration, and classroom organization. They help to plan, organize, and collaborate in real-time on any board, from any device. We can get input from students or parents on upcoming plans. We can also assign tasks and set due dates for events, organize meeting agendas to save time—even manage those constant requests for more whiteboard markers!

Most online courses, however, particularly those serving K-12 students, have a format much more similar to in-person courses. The teacher helps to run virtual discussion among the students, assigns homework, and follows up with individual students. Sometimes these courses are synchronous (teachers and students all meet at the same time) and sometimes they are asynchronous (non-concurrent). In both cases, the teacher is supposed to provide opportunities for students to engage thoughtfully with the subject matter, and students, in most cases, are required to interact with each other virtually. Online courses provide opportunities for students. Students in a school that doesn’t offer statistics classes may be able to learn statistics with virtual lessons. If students fail algebra, they may be able to catch up during evenings or summer using online classes, and not disrupt their math trajectory at school. So, almost certainly, online classes sometimes benefit students.

It is not surprising that in-person courses are, on average, more effective. Being in person with teachers and other students creates social pressures and benefits that can help motivate students to engage. Some students do as well with online courses as in in-person courses, some may actually do better, but, on average, students do worse in the online setting, and this is particularly true for students with weaker academic backgrounds. So, it becomes a challenge for us teachers to be more prepared to put out our energy and commitment to make the education process easier for our students. Students who struggle in in-person classes are likely to struggle even more virtually. And therefore, our commitment level goes a step higher when we are engaging them with online classes.

Steve Hiles

I am a retired military and elementary school teacher living in Tennessee. I am an avid reader and love to write. I am very passionate about helping teachers. I hope you find my educational tips and strategies useful,and enjoy hearing about my personal journey.



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Steve Hiles

I am a retired military and elementary school teacher living in Tennessee. I am an avid reader and love to write. I am very passionate about helping teachers. I hope you find my educational tips and strategies useful and enjoy hearing about my personal journey. Thanks for visiting!

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