Online learning offers loads of benefits and fun!
I know that there have been a lot of changes lately, and most of them are unpleasant. Change itself can be a problem for a lot of people, yours truly included.
Still, not all change is bad or painful. While I look forward to teaching students “in-person” again, I have found lots of great tools and ways to make online teaching enjoyable and pedagogically sound.
I have been teaching students online for a few years now; however, only a few. (Well, I have lots of students in my asynchronous courses, but they do most of their work independently.) When Covid-19 became more serious, and everything had to shut down, all my in-person students needed to move online.
At first, admittedly, the situation was a wee bit confusing. It was a real challenge trying to get everyone to learn the platforms and tools all at once, preparing lessons in a different way, keeping track of everyone’s progress, and so on.
I believe the benefits were well worth it. Now, all of my students have a lot more tools at their disposal, and so do I. Not only for this period of almost forced learning online, but also for when they return to school or even when they go out into the workplace.
Zoom (or other video) meetings have become the norm for a lot of groups for school, church, business, and families. They allow you to see the person and talk in a way that is almost the same as being with them.
Students can show me things on the camera such as their work, their cat, a new stuffed toy, a dirt bike helmet, and so on.
I can show my students things on the camera as well. If they aren’t understanding something, I can be just as silly on camera as in person. Apparently my “dad” jokes are just as bad, or good depending on your interpretation.
Most of the students’ work is not shown on the camera but completed on different platforms such as Bitpaper and Google Docs.
We can share screens to show work, questions, videos, and anything else that I have on my computer, they have on their computer, or we discover online.
It is really quite amazing!
We can write together on the same page. This works automatically on Bitpaper, but I can give them control to write, draw, annotate, etc. through Zoom or Google Docs as well.
Many of my students were shocked when they found that they could type on a Google Document with my screen share, and I could provide immediate feedback and help, making changes from my keyboard at the same time.
Also, they can complete assignments between sessions, and I can look at their progress and make suggestions between sessions, too.
There are so many resources online. This can be great; however, it can also be scary. There are almost too many resources. One can get lost trying to do too many different things to the extent that nothing is actually accomplished.
Instead of thinking of the wide variety as too much, just choose a couple to start with. At no time, do you need to use dozens of programs or platforms. You can stick with the ones you like and the ones that make the most sense for your particular learning needs.
Not all programs are equivalent or useful. For example, games can be fun and can offer a lot of learning opportunities, but they can also be distracting and lead nowhere in the long run.
As with any tool, try to choose the ones that work best for you and the ones that will deliver.
Above all, don’t be afraid to jump in and take part. Try a new program. You could play around with Skype or Zoom and have a meeting with someone instead of a phone call.
Test out a few different learning resources for yourself or with your children.
Don’t worry about tech problems. There will be tech problems. Repeat, there will be tech problems from time to time. Be patient, reload, restart perhaps – and, if all else fails, reschedule. Usually these little glitches work themselves out in the long run, so don’t let that put you off online learning.
I have provided a list of resources below that I used previously in one of my other blog posts.
The best resource? (I might be biased.)
Oh, I would be remiss if I did not remind you that one of the best resources is an experienced tutor.
I will continue to do my best to support my students and you as you continue on the learning path.
Check out the video below for more about online learning and a couple of examples of what you can do.
This week's video: Don’t Fear Online Learning!
There are so many free resources available online these days.
I like commonlit.org, readingvine.com or readworks.org for texts and stories with questions and writing opportunities. They have grade levels, subjects, vocabulary activities, and many have “read aloud” options.
I also like braingenie.ck12.org, khanacademy.org, and themathworksheetsite.com. I use these primarily for math.
Khan Academy has set up a schedule to help students, parents, and teachers. It looks like a great resource. You can adapt it to suit your needs.
Khan Academy Schedule
Looking for more?
This site has a very long list of resources. Many of them are free, too!
Amazing Educational Resources
Don’t be afraid to keep learning! In fact, it might be the very best thing you could do for yourself and our children at this time.