When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March of 2020, teachers around the world had to reinvent themselves in a joint effort to avoid a complete halt in educational activities. The challenges they faced over the course of the last year and a half, have generated some key insights about virtual teaching that we need to learn from, and be prepared for, as we return to our brick and mortar schools.
Most academic articles that have been published on this topic during the pandemic argue that in-person classroom interactions are favored over virtual classes. The arguments they offer, however, have more to do with the shortcomings of the software or hardware used than with the many benefits such as the potential for innovation that a solid virtual learning platform offers. Schools should not overlook the added value of offering virtual classes as an option to the traditional classroom.
The power of personalization
Virtual learning environments offer numerous options for personalization of the learning experience. This can be of tremendous value for students that need an extra challenge every now and to keep them engaged, or for students that need a bit more guidance and personal support from time to time.
A wide variety of learning materials
A wide variety of learning materials that can be incorporated and used during virtual classes. This offers students a multitude of ways to engage with the content, which allows visual, auditory, reading/writing, and even kinesthetic learners to access materials that aligns with their preferred learning style.
An emphasis on communication skills
Several studies have concluded that the emphasis on communication skills, when using a virtual platform, increases the possibilities for language learning. Because virtual learning environments often offer multiple different modes of communication, the amount of potential interactions increases, as well as the quality of the interactions themselves.
Schools that want to make the shift towards blended-learning and make virtual classes part of their educational strategy, and not just an add-on, need more than a corporate platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. They need a partner that can help them navigate the challenges that come with a digital transformation for teachers and students. A solution that was built specifically for teaching and learning, with the expertise around virtual learning environments and education. They should offer guidance and support regarding how to use the many tools in the software and how to optimize these to empower teachers and students for a more powerful educational experience. Jigsaw Interactive is such a solution. They work with some of the largest virtual schools in the country, so they are familiar with what it takes. They also have an outstanding customer care program that supports teachers, parents and student throughout the school year.