With preparation, online teaching can be as effective as traditional methods. Some of the difficulties teachers experience are the inability to complete assignments due to technological issues, the lack of focus during online sessions through Zoom, Google Classroom, and other platforms, and the overall psychological challenges brought about due to the absence of social interaction. Unless proper training and guidance is provided, many teachers are underprepared for online instruction, while most students are confronting remote learning for their very first time. With respect to these roadblocks, several steps can be taken to improve online learning outcomes and enhance instruction during your remote teaching experience.

1. Provide Recommendations for Online Classroom Management

Many teachers create rules in their classroom to avoid distraction, such as putting cellphones on silent or even leaving them stacked on the chalkboard. The reality, though, is your students might have siblings who think it’s hilarious to interrupt virtual meetings. To help avoid disruptions, it’s important to email the parents and students with a brief list of recommendations during the class time. In your recommendation letter to students and parents, provide guidance on what an ideal learning space should look like. It’s helpful to remind them about the inconveniences of interruption from a sibling or background noise. A schedule of class meetings should also be provided to help parents prepare their children for online lessons. This may help with keeping the younger kids at bay, or even a busy parent in deciding when to use the blender.

2. Establish a Template and Checklist for Posting Assignments

Receiving hundreds of emails per day? It’s not that your assignments are missing clarification or details, it’s about how accessible and organized you make the directions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with addressing students from various classes, you may find it easier to make an individual email account for each class, which can still be controlled under one umbrella, through services like Gmail. You can also create a draft using a word processor program before making any assignment posts. Develop a template that is identical for each post to avoid forgetting any key details. Consider writing the post title first, labeled with the week number and topic name, followed by instructions and the list of attachments and files. To avoid mistakes, create a separate checklist that you can complete before making the final post on your platform. Did you include the correct attachments and due dates for instance?

3. Innovate your Classroom Material

Remember how often students dosed off inside the classroom? Imagine the difficulties in retaining focus online. Having live classes through Zoom or Google Classroom is only the start, but more can be done to innovate these activities within the online learning experience. Consider using a platform such as Flipgrid. Flipgrid is a platform that allows students to record short videos and post them to be viewed privately by yourself and or the rest of the class. By using Flipgrid, you can have students record themselves solving math equations, explaining their programming code, or even providing an explanation to their writing tasks. This gives each student a voice in the comfort of their free time, unlike class meetings that may cause students to be shy or inactive.

4. Develop a Plan with your Instructional Coach and Department

In many cases, you may find that your students are unable or simply uninterested in completing their work due to their home environment and other obstacles. A great approach to this dilemma is to look at assignments and class materials as a form of enrichment instead of as simply a means to earning a good grade. This may be accomplished by reducing the amount of large complicated lessons by opting to break them down into multiple small tasks. This will encourage students to complete assignments earlier, thus reducing the temptation to cram everything into the last minute. Additionally, changing the assignment tasks into fun, potentially optional activities, will also result in higher rates of student involvement.

Although online learning has been widely adopted by private industry and even higher education settings and has grown in sophistication over the past decade, for many K-12 students and teachers, it may be completely new. By following these tips, you can encourage participation, save yourself time, and motivate parents to promote an ideal online learning environment. Remote learning is an exceptional form of innovation, and you too can enhance it for users of all ages. For more on this topic – check out our article on preventing plagiarism in the online classroom.