Technology for Virtual Learning
It’s crunch time. Many private or charter schools have already started their fall semester and most public schools resume classes the day after Labor Day. With the daily COVID numbers fluctuating above what the state considers a safe number, the vast majority of students and teachers will resume with some form of virtual instruction. This, however, creates many new challenges to overcome. From tracking lesson engagement to monitoring student’s social and emotional learning, teaching via video chat is not the same as teaching in person.
Our team has spent the spring and summer in close collaboration with both educators and technology providers and we have a few well-vetted recommendations that will help you make the most of a virtual learning environment. These resources and tools will streamline the technical aspect of virtual learning so that teachers can be more engaged with the lesson and students can be more focused on learning. Let’s get to it!
The Three Categories: Access & Engagement, Monitoring, and Analytics
We divided our recommendations into three primary categories, sign-on, engagement, and analytics because every student and teacher will deal with all three categories every day. Everyone will sign in and out of various applications and tools. Everyone will participate in various lessons. And everyone will need their participation evaluated. Virtual learning makes all of these more difficult. The tools we recommend will help simplify virtual learning and give teachers better control of their classes.
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Improve Access & Analytics
Once upon a time, students simply opened their textbooks to the correct chapter. That was a long time ago. Today, students use dozens of different learning apps for math, language, and even virtual chemistry labs. Signing in and out of all those apps and services use up valuable instruction time because you can’t get started until everyone is ready. We also all know how difficult it can be to remember many different usernames and passwords. That is why we recommend single single-on services like ClassLink.
The way single sign-on works is simple. All accounts and apps are tied into one master account. Once you log into the master account, you’re automatically logged into all of the other applications associated with it. You may have seen news websites or e-commerce sites that offer the option to log in with your Facebook username and password. Same idea. Instead of remembering 10 or 20 different sets of credentials, each of which may have different password requirements, teachers and students will only have to remember one. That will save a lot of time over the course of a full day or week. And with many school days cut short during virtual learning, every second counts.
On the analytics side, grading and reporting help teachers track progress and monitor performance over time. With a whole classroom of faces squeezed into a small screen, teachers can’t get the visual feedback they’re used to. They have to rely more on numbers and scores. ClassLink Analytics provides detailed reporting to see how much time students are spending in various learning apps or using learning websites.
Our Single Sign-On & Analytics Recommendation:
Engage & Assess Students
No one is quite sure how long-term virtual instruction will play out, but we need to make sure that we’re focusing on, and prioritizing, student engagement. It’s easier for those who are struggling to fall through the cracks when you don’t have that personal connection and time together. Teachers need help to target students that are falling behind or need a little extra help to keep up.
Some engagement tools like those from Class Dojo offer powerful communication tools to improve parent engagement as well as alternative instructional tools that go beyond listening to and watching, a lesson. Some of their creative tools help students assemble images and artwork into a portfolio of activities. Other tools help pair or group students together for tasks or activities or introduce music into the lesson. So many elements of elementary education involved, engaging, hands-on activities. These resources help bring that to virtual learning.
Other platforms like Schoology take this to a higher level. The Schoology system integrates assessment and grading tools so that you can more easily translate instructional activities into performance reporting.
Engagement Tool Recommendations:
Manage & Monitor Your Classroom
Great teachers have great classroom management. They know how to hold their student’s attention, command respect, and lead the class to grasp whatever is on the lesson plan. Virtual learning throws even the best teachers a major curveball. When they’re not in the room with their students, they can’t monitor their eyes to see if they’re paying attention. They can’t hear if there’s music or a television on in the background. They can’t find the proverbial comic book wedged into a textbook. In fact, when students are connected through a screen, teachers can’t be sure the student is looking at them at all! To help give teachers better control over their students, we recommend classroom management tools like Go Guardian.
Tools like Go Guardian give teachers powerful control over their students’ devices. They may be miles apart, but classroom management tools allow teachers to see their student’s screens, control their microphone and applications, and send direct notifications to a student who needs individual attention. If a student lost focus and opened a website to read about sports, the teacher can see it, close the site, and block the student from re-opening it. If managing activity in real-time is too distracting, teachers can opt to review a report of student activity at the end of the day to see what websites they visited most often and block them before the next day starts.
Another great feature gives teachers the ability to pre-open websites or apps that students need which saves valuable time. Paired with single sign-on services like ClassLink which are already integrated with Go Guardian, you can virtually eliminate the process of logging in and out of apps during instruction time.
Our Classroom Management Recommendation:
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We’re in a new world of education and there are many new challenges to address. We believe that these tools will make teacher’s lives easier and keep students more engaged. And that is a winning combination. If you have any questions about these ideas or want to discuss the particular needs of your school or district, please reach out to our expert team. They can help you craft and combine the right combination of solutions to maximize everyone’s performance this fall.