Distance learning connects students to learning resources remotely. If this sounds vague, that’s because there’s a lot of ways to do it. Email, online video courses, online course material and tests, and technically even using the mail can count because it gets students in communication while they’re far away.
Most online teaching being done is moving to live and recorded video. Whether your students are in middle school, high school, or at a university level, there are guidelines that apply universally to tackling learning online. Here are 10 helpful tips to improve your online classroom, followed by some insights to take away for teaching in this new paradigm.
Flipped classrooms is a new approach to learning which fits distance learning well.
Teaching online is fundamentally different from the traditional classroom model of education. The two parts of online learning have to do with access, and self discipline. While these two principles certainly apply in ‘real life’ as well, they almost completely cover every facet of learning and working online.
Access is both a challenge and an advantage that online learning has. Firstly, as a challenge, students and teachers both have to have access to the course material, and to each other. They need an internet connection, and they also need each others’ attention and availability.
Nowadays, students have access to the internet through their mobile devices, which is a good enough means to do effective distance learning. There are also public libraries with internet access points and computers available for public use that students can use.
The principle of access includes being exposed to, or having access to information for further learning. Think of it kind of like the raw materials that you build knowledge and understanding with. When you provide reference materials, or links to other resources, you are expanding the students’ access to further learning.
When you budget time for one-on-one sessions, you are improving their access to learning. When you record your own material, you are expanding your own access to insights on how to improve your own teaching methods.
In a traditional classroom, discipline is more direct for students who act up, particularly with younger students. We are familiar with these institutional forms of discipline but online, you are not physically in an institution. You are usually in your own home.
Online, while there are tools for moderation, there is not as direct of an instilled sense of discipline. Instead, both your own productivity and the students’ productivity relies almost entirely on a sense of self discipline. A virtual classroom etiquette can help to get students and teacher on the same page in terms of discipline and respect.
The new era of online education is much more independent-oriented than its more traditional institutional approach to learning.
It’s no secret that the greatest resource we have as human beings is each other. Information technology allows us to connect to just about anyone, which is a massive empowerment for regular people.
Students can of course be connected to their lecturers more or less directly through vast distances. But they can be connected to any lecturer or teacher through vast distances and times through the very same technology.
This means that every student can be exposed to the very best educators from this point in history forward. That’s amazing access to learn through distances of both space and time.
Photos by Jacob Lund from Noun Project
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