Schools Go Online: Top Tips on Organizing Distance Teaching Effectively

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      The Effects of Coronavirus on Education

      The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on education worldwide. Since March 2020, closures of schools, universities, and colleges in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus have affected over 90 percent of the world’s student population in 193 countries across the globe.

      A bored school boy sitting in front of his laptop and writing something in his copybook

      Many countries are now implementing e-learning programs in order to minimize disruption to education, with students taking lessons and tests at home. As 5G and cloud-based technologies are becoming prevalent, innovation in education is accelerating at unprecedented speed.

      The Challenges of Transferring Education Online

      While many institutions rose quickly to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the situation also exposed the difficulties of transferring education online.

      Access to technology is not equal: rural and socio-economically disadvantaged students do not have the same opportunities as their urban and more privileged peers. It has also been found that learning outcomes largely vary depending on what device is used, a factor further deepening the divide between rich and poor, while many students are reported to not be well-versed in educational technology.

      Coronavirus: Silver Linings for Schools

      Some believe that the positive effects of this crisis will outweigh the negative ones when it comes to education. Distance learning forces students to take ownership over their learning, promoting meaningful change and it is said to help the performance of introverted students who would normally shy away in traditional school settings.

      This golden era for the development of education technology will make user-friendly online tutoring platforms become a normal part of our routine and lifestyle.

      1. Subjects

      There is a lot of debate currently about transferring school subjects to online formats. Educators are discussing not only how to improve online curriculum and lesson delivery, but they are also examining precisely what should and should not be taught online.

      Should All Subjects Be Taught Online?

      One may be surprised to find that even subjects like P.E. can be conducted online with the use of video technology. While theoretical courses are the most common type of subject to be taught online, nowadays students can find even more physical courses on remote learning platforms.

      However, it is argued that online courses could be a poor fit for those who are academically behind their peers who need more attention from teachers.

      Subjects That Can’t Be Taught Online

      Subjects that can’t be taught online include courses that require hands-on instructions, where physical movement and practice contribute to the achievement of learning objectives. This would include dance, music, and crafts.

      Even though subjects like Chemistry can be taught online, on an advanced level where lab experiments and equipment are required to progress, real-life lessons are also preferable.

      2. The Learning Process

      The online environment offers educators plenty of different options for translating their teachings to a digital format.

      Formats Beyond Lecturing

      Technological innovations are making it possible for teachers to reach their audience effectively in many new and exciting ways. There are many applications that make it possible to caption video and transcribe audio content, which is very useful for teachers looking to avoid hours of repetitive teaching. Applications like all-in-one online video classroom tool Hippo Video, or Animoto, are useful tools for teachers’ video presentations.

      Interacting With A Large Audience of Online Learners

      Some suggestions in order to effectively interact with a large audience of online students are the following:

      • Use live polls, quizzes, and interactive Q&As.
      • Increase your visibility by making sure the lighting is good and your audience can clearly see you.
      • Use purposeful movement, instead of sitting still the entire time, to keep students’ attention.
      • Leverage your voice, ensuring it is not monotonous, but loud and engaging.
      Male teacher lecturing students in a large audience

      Online Home Assignments: The Optimal Amount

      When it comes to homework for online classes, just as with traditional classes, the ideal amount varies for different students. Educational organizations recommend a daily 10 minutes of homework per grade level per subject, which is just enough time to not drain student motivation and focus. Teachers should concentrate on the quality vs. the quantity of the assigned homework.

      3. Place

      Many new online tutors are wondering where the best location to do so is. Should they be using their school’s premises and equipment for their online classes or teach from home?

      Holding Online Classes From School: Advantages & Disadvantages

      Teaching an online class from the premises of a school has both advantages and disadvantages.

      Advantages:
      • Equipment and resources for online teaching are provided by the school and do not have to be arranged by the teacher.
      • Teaching from a school’s premises is familiar to students and provides a sense of comfort and normalcy to the lesson.
      Disadvantages:
      • Teachers must commute to school premises, which uses up their time.
      • In an education industry that is rapidly progressing, teaching from a traditional setting is a step backward.

      Holding Online Classes From Home: Advantages & Disadvantages

      The alternative option, teaching from home, also has both positives and negatives.

      Advantages:
      • Teaching from home offers flexibility and convenience to teachers.
      • Less supervision encourages teachers to grow their skills and online tutoring services.
      Disadvantages:
      • Older teachers who are not as familiar with technology as their younger peers may be disadvantaged when it comes to setting distance learning systems up to teach at home.
      • Teachers are more likely to be distracted at home than in an official school setting.

      Teaching From School Vs. Home During COVID-19: Who Decides?

      The consensus during the coronavirus crisis is to follow government advice. Where schools offer their buildings for online classes, teachers may benefit from using them, but it is generally believed that after normalcy resumes, flexible teaching from home will become very common.

      4. Timetable

      Another question troubling educators going online for the first time is what time lessons should be held. Is maintaining a traditional teacher’s schedule worth it or is it better to improvise and be flexible?

      Best Time of Day for Online Lessons

      While it makes sense to mimic a traditional school schedule, a full day in front of a screen is a lot for both kids and teachers. Many schools are requiring students to check-in twice a day, in the morning and then later in the afternoon, while others are adopting more experimental approaches.

      It is crucial for teachers to remember that younger kids may function and learn better in the morning, while teenagers show optimal retention results later in the day. Flexibility and evening shifts should be encouraged during this unprecedented time.

      Lesson Duration

      Online lessons should be limited to 45 minutes. Teachers should aim to transmit information concisely during class, keeping in mind that students often tend to lose attention and focus if a class is boring or repetitive.

      Breaks Between Online Lessons

      Studies show that people retain information better when they’re given it in small portions with breaks in between. Teachers should incorporate 10–15-minute breaks between online lessons, which will allow learners to breathe, hydrate or even do some physical exercise in order to boost their energy.

      Schools’ Online Lessons: How Many Should Be Provided and Taken Per Day & Week?

      Most schools during this time are mimicking real programs, trying to offer the same amount of classes that are taught traditionally. Students can take around 30 hours of lessons per week and are largely flexible in deciding when these are taken, but there is no official right period of time for an e-learning day as of yet.

      5. Learners

      Distance teaching offers educators the opportunity to work with students from various nationalities, backgrounds, and abilities, individually or within groups.

      Online Classrooms: Is There A Maximum Number for Participants?

      While different online classrooms are differently structured, teachers generally use e-learning platforms that don’t have a limit to the number of students that can be enrolled in their courses.

      The ideal class size depends on many factors. While in a typical school classroom, a teacher may find themselves teaching a group of 20-25, this could be overwhelming in an online environment, where a more manageable number is closer to 15 students at a time.

      Combining Individual Learners Into Groups

      Teachers who have students of the same age learning the same subjects may be tempted to combine them into one class to save time and energy. If the students agree, with the right preparation, it is certainly possible to combine students into groups and can even be beneficial, since kids enjoy learning together.

      6. Tools

      If you are ready to take the plunge into the world of online teaching, one of the most important things to consider is what remote tutoring tools you will need to successfully and effectively perform your tasks.

      Professional digital camera recording video of an Asian teacher in the classroom

      Tools for Distance Teaching

      Other than hugely popular platforms, such as Skype and Zoom, which teachers are using to deliver their lessons online, there are many widespread tools available to help prospective online teachers set up virtual classrooms.

      Some platforms which facilitate discussion, assessment and tutoring include Moodle, which is a community-driven and globally-supported open learning platform, Duolingo, an application to support language learning and Funzi, a mobile learning service that supports teaching and training for large groups.

      Disadvantages of Skype

      Even though Skype has been around for a long time, it is a network-intensive program that notoriously faces frequent connectivity issues, something which disrupts lessons.

      Given Skype is used by millions of people around the world, security is another problem for students who often worry they could become a target for hacker attacks.

      Disadvantages of Zoom

      Zoom connects the video calls of up to 100 individuals for a session, meaning it requires a lot of bandwidth to operate effectively and leaving students often experiencing technical difficulties.

      Another issue with Zoom is that, since it is a technology that is only now starting to gain a lot of hype around the world, a lot of people are still learning to use it, which does not make it ideal for lessons that require familiarity with a platform.

      Distance Teaching via Eurekly

      Eurekly understands and empathizes with the challenges faced by parents, teachers, and students during the COVID-19 pandemic and is committed to providing innovative solutions to support education.

      With a marked increase in users over the last few months and now boasting over 8,500 students and tutors from 25 countries, Eurekly is one of the best platforms for online tutoring.

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