As distance learning becomes the primary method of education during the ongoing global health crisis, there’s a lot of pressure on teachers to perform better. An article on Education Week highlights that while students find it harder to learn outside the four walls of a classroom, distance learning provides teachers and students a way to interact amidst the chaos. This means that teachers need to strengthen their pedagogical practices and use different tools to help students learn and to maximize this new teaching landscape.
Below, we’ve listed the top five distance learning tools that teachers need to have in their arsenal.
Cross-Platform Digital Planners
Educators who are holding virtual classes know that they need to extensively plan their workdays. From shooting footage to be used in class to creating engaging quizzes, there’s a lot that goes into distance learning classes. To help them organize the work they need to do, it’s a good idea to have a reliable digital planner. With a handy planner, teachers can manage their workflow, separate projects into digestible tasks, and receive reminders so nothing gets forgotten. One great planning app that can be accessed through different platforms is Evernote. Apart from its basic planning features, you can also attach handwritten notes, audio, and web pages to your Evernote projects.
Video Conferencing Platforms
Other than providing a way for students and teachers to have face-to-face sessions, video conferencing platforms also give students a daily dose of healthy social interaction. There are a lot of video conferencing platforms available to download, so it might be a little challenging to find one that works best for your class. From Zoom to Google Hangouts, all of these have their own features that make them stand out. However, Forbes notes that educators should always practice cyber hygiene when using video conferencing platforms. They can do this by setting meeting passwords, keeping their software up to date, and managing participant controls.
Discussion and Collaboration Software
To foster a collaborative classroom, teachers should look into software that allows their students to interact. While there’s plenty of interaction that happens through video conferencing software, a dedicated program can better support both teachers and students. One good example of class collaboration software is Flipgrid, where students can share what they’ve learned to other fellow students. Another tool that might prove to be useful is Kialo, which allows educators to host class debates and initiate class discussions.
Not all students have a reliable internet connection at home, so synchronous lessons might not be the best route to go when it comes to distance learning. That’s why educators should look to screencasting too, so they mitigate the learning gap between students who can do synchronous lessons and those that can’t. In their guide to the best screencasting software for teachers, HP points out some key features you have to look out for, such as cost, security and privacy certifications, as well as the ability to blur backgrounds and add annotations or voiceovers. This way, you can create engaging video lessons and help your students learn through example. Some of the best tools include Screencast-O-Matic and Loom.
Engaging Quiz and Game Programs
When it comes to distance learning, educators really need to try their best to grab the attention of their students. An article on Inside Higher Ed states that in order to create a compelling and enjoyable virtual learning environment for students, you have to tap into their exploring, editing, and creative skills. This can be done through engaging quizzes and educational games. So, try using software like Kahoot! and Quizziz to create fun learning activities that your students will enjoy.