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digital
17 August 2020

tips for better online teaching.

Schools across the globe have had to make drastic changes and as a result, teachers are faced with the challenge of how to give their students the same education on a new format – the digital classroom. 

This daunting task can be faced with utilising edtech (education technology) and digital resources that are already available and will ensure that your students will receive a quality education. 

Here are 7 tips to help you in your digital classroom:

1. Delivery and technology 
There are several ways to move content and lessons online.

Many schools already use Microsoft Systems such as Office 365 or Google Apps such as Google Classroom, both of which are free for educational settings and can be downloaded or set up to use quickly and easily. Schools that already use these systems do not need to rush to new technology. In fact, now is the time to keep things simple and utilise the tools already embedded in your school. 

In light of the Coronavirus, companies such as Microsoft and Google have opened up the availability of their remote learning tools to schools and are offering support to teachers and students to help them use their resources most effectively.

2. Communication is key – with students and families
For many students and parents, virtual learning is a new landscape. It’s important to educate them on the digital tools needed for success; provide tutorials up front and schedule run-throughs with each student with a family member to help assist younger primary students.

Making sure each student has access to a digital device is a fairly obvious but is still an important virtual teaching tip. If students share devices with siblings or other school-age household members, try to ensure that class times differ so that your students can use their devices when they need them.

3. Keep students accountable 
In a virtual learning environment, it can be challenging for teachers to hold students accountable when they don’t see them every day. Educators need to develop strategies to ensure their students come prepared to learn. For example, language teachers can create literature circles and book clubs to empower students to teach the class with a given role. This creates accountability in that students must come prepared each week to present.  

4. Use gamification/contests
Find ways to make learning fun through weekly challenges, contests and games. Some learning apps include built-in factors of gamification to enhance student participation and motivation. For example, video game-inspired achievements and badges in the Sora reading app reward students for reaching specific milestones.

5. Create accessibility for all
Create universal supports for students who don’t like making videos or are shy. Some students may thrive using Zoom chat but are less successful using Zoom video or Flipgrid. Allow for all types of sharing based on modality of the student.

6. Take a “show and tell” approach
Show and tell is essentially the opposite of homework. It’s a chance for students to bring their world into the school rather than school into their world. This approach is a fun way to engage over a Zoom or Teams call. Educators need to remember that home learning doesn’t have to require sending schoolwork home. It’s about building a partnership between school and home and recognising the ways that students might learn best within their own environment.

7. Be present and available as a teacher
Distance learning doesn’t mean you have to be distant. As teachers, you can be intentional about creating a sense of presence with your students.
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