Online classrooms, like all classrooms, come with a unique set of challenges. Students often become distracted in a home environment, and it may be difficult for them to stay motivated when they don’t have the social aspect of school to leaven the learning lump. Technical issues can also arise, causing interruptions and frustration. But with a solid plan, a reliable platform, and strong strategies in place, teachers can make the virtual learning environment dynamic and engaging and ensure that students receive a high-quality education. The key to creating effective strategies is to understand what students need to succeed.
Students of all ages love the social aspect of school. They look forward to making friends and interacting with instructors and peers on a daily basis. Teachers who take time at the outset to establish and maintain clear communication and strong relationships will have an easier time rousing student engagement. Starting with fun ‘get-to-know-you’ and ‘get-to-know-your-teacher’ activities goes a long way toward establishing the camaraderie that makes online school feel more like the social learning experience it was meant to be.
Relevant and Engaging Learning Tasks
One of the complaints parents and teachers hear most frequently in regard to schoolwork is that certain assignments are nothing but “busywork.” Without a strong program to support interactive, relevant, and challenging learning activities, online classrooms can easily fall into the busywork rut. Good educators with the right resources and tools can find creative ways to present rigorous online coursework that challenges students, engages their interest and participation, and promotes vigorous learning.
Clear Expectations and Routines
The most productive learning environment is one in which students feel secure and comfortable. To eliminate confusion and frustration, teachers should set clear expectations and routines regarding classroom behavior and procedures, just as they would in a physical classroom. Students need to know how to log in, how to participate, how to turn in assignments, how to indicate that they have a comment or a question, etc. They also should have an easily-accessible calendar to keep track of deadlines and be able to look ahead and prepare. Knowing what to expect and what is expected of them puts them at ease and sets them up for success.
Group activities that promote communication and collaboration throughout the course contribute to the kind of classroom culture that helps learners succeed. Blackboard discussion forums, interactive whiteboards, think-pair-share activities, small group work, and online study groups are great ways to support student interaction. With a robust, user-friendly learning platform, such activities are easy to achieve in a virtual classroom.
Remote learning does present its challenges when it comes to student participation, but the right digital platform can remove communication barriers instead of creating them. Clear sound and pictures capture nuances like facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. The ability to split the screen several times promotes visibility and group discussion. Interactive devices like shared screens, whiteboards, lesson aids, and assessment tools encourage engagement. And breakout rooms minimize distractions and make learning feel more personalized.
Getting students to participate and focus in virtual classrooms takes some work, but every good educator welcomes hard work. With a robust platform like Jigsaw Interactive, students have everything they need to succeed, and educators have everything they need to nurture that success.