As schools prepare for online courses based on the growing concern around COVID-19, it is important for adults to understand what a successful remote learning space looks like. To ease students transition, it is important to create a setting that closely resembles their experience in the classroom. Have you ever heard that if you chew the same flavor gum while studying and taking an exam that it helps during recall and memory tasks? Well, the same idea exists when talking about students learning environments. Here, we will create a practical guide to your successful remote learning space to help empower educators and students.
Practical Guide to a Successful Remote Learning Space
The first thing that may come to mind when thinking about connectivity could be wifi or internet. Even though this is important aspect of virtual learning, this is not what we mean by connectivity. Connectivity is defined as the ability to interact socially and academically within a virtual setting.
For the social aspect, students will loose face-to-face interaction on a daily basis. Research shows that children who lack social interaction can experience emotional and mental difficulties. According to IFAS Extension, children "develop the ability to think through and negotiate different situations that arise in their relationships. Having friends even affects children’s school performance. Children tend to have better attitudes about school and learning when they have friends there." That is why it is important to encourage students to connect virtually through apps such as Skype In The Classroom.
For the academic aspect, teachers will be unable to gauge student improvements within the classroom. That is why it is important for educators to have one-on-one discussions virtually to provide a safe space for the teachers and students to discuss class material. This can provide teachers a way pinpoint students who are not confident enough to reach out on their own to get help on class material. These one-on-one meetings also allow for a safe space for students to ask their questions and get the help they need to be successful during the school year.
Personalizing a virtual classroom can sometimes be the most difficult part in the entire process. What we mean by personalization is taking a deep look into the student's learning needs and providing differentiated teaching techniques. In a successful 21st century classroom, teachers need to offer a blended learning environment as opposed to the traditional classroom. As educators, we need to make sure we don't lose this aspect when we transition to a virtual setting.
To help you with this transition, we have included two tips for educators to keep in mind in their digital environment:
1. Self-Paced Instruction
One of the biggest strengths virtual learning has to offer is the ability for self-paced learning. This will accommodate students who need extra time on assignments as well as accelerated learners who want to get ahead on the material.
2. Flexible Lesson Plans
Customizing the learning experience in a way where lesson plans can be changed on they fly will allow teachers to help the many different learning needs students may have.
Remember earlier when we said that if you chew the same flavor gum while studying and taking an exam that it helps during recall and memory tasks? Well, this is the same about the environment around you while learning. If students are placed into an area that is significantly different from what they are used to, they may become distracted which may cause a decrease in performance. Ask yourself these questions before committing your kids to a specific location for their virtual learning experience:
Is the temperature in the space uncomfortable for extended periods of time?
Does the space restrict the entrance of natural light?
Does this location yield background noise?
Are the wall finishes distracting in any way?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should re-evaluate other options to use for your virtual learning space. Allowing any of these aspects into your virtual classroom may hurt a students ability to learn.
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Our team is committed to being a reliable resource for our community during this difficult time. To help support you, we are able to host virtual meetings and help in any way we can. We are in this together!