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Innovative Learning News

Tips to Maximize Virtual Learning Experiences

April 2, 2021

Many students have transitioned to online learning following the covid-19 global pandemic outbreak. It's an understatement to say that parents and students were surprised by the differences (and difficulties) with virtual learning compared to in-person learning.  Although most school districts provided a technology device such as a laptop or tablet for home use, school aged children still experienced challenges with structure, motivation, engagement, and access to resources including reliable internet and academic support services within the home.  

I understand the struggle from both sides. Like most teachers, I transitioned from the classroom to virtual teaching due to covid-19.  I was challenged with juggling all the responsibilities of teaching (planning, lecturing, assessing, grading, etc) while also supporting my own children who were home as virtual learners. My youngest didn't mind being home. He only had class via Zoom twice per day.  HIs teacher managed a virtual classroom full of second graders and it was obvious at times how overwhelmed she was.  On the other hand, my daughter, who is a high school freshmen, hid behind a muted camera for the majority of the day and complained about how much she hated being home.  She had a full schedule of 8 class periods that all met via zoom, including PE and electives. To keep both kiddos on track, and to maintain my own sanity, I quickly realized that I needed to create a procedure that would allow everyone to be successful. 

I have compiled a list of tips to help your child maximize their learning experiences, based on personal experiences as a parent and virtual teacher.  

Tip #1: Create a structured routine.

Students should preparing for the day as if they were attending school in person.  Do not allow children to just roll out of bed and into the front of the computer. They will lack motivation and most likely will not remain interested or engaged in learning. Instead, wake up at a scheduled time, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, etc. as if preparing for a regular in-person school day. Don’t feel pressure to get dressed up to sit in front of the camera, but dressing in accordance with your school’s casual dress code will help set the pace for the day. Eating a light breakfast will also provide fuel to aid in learning. 

Tip #2: Arrive to class on time, focused, and prepared with class materials. 

Log in to class a few minutes early to respect the teacher and other student’s time. Some teachers do not allow students into the virtual classroom once they have begun teaching, honestly because they are too busy to notice that you’re in the waiting room.

Tip #3: Attend class from a distraction free, well lit area. 

Open the blinds and allow natural lighting to energize the day. Use a desk or table that is free of clutter – do not lay in the bed. Earbuds or headphones are a great way to eliminate background noise and keep students focused on learning. If headphones are not available, make sure your child is working in an area that is quiet and distraction-free. Instruct children not to use cell phones while in class, and certainly no TV, toys, or other distracting devices.

Tip#4: Keep cameras on for the entire class period. 

This helps with attendance, engagement, interaction, and  student accountability. Encourage your child to ask questions during virtual class when necessary, the same as they would in person. Teachers will appreciate and acknowledge a student that is interactive versus one that hides behind a muted camera. Leaving the camera on also encourages student-teacher engagement, as well as provides the teacher with a platform to teach more effectively. Many students have been virtual all school year, and let’s be honest - teachers may or may not know your child, especially if they haven’t had the teacher previously. We also know that when the cat is away, the mice will play. In other words, if your child’s camera is off they will be more tempted to get on their cell phones, watch TV, and even take a nap! Keeping the camera on serves as an additional layer of accountability.

I hope this list helps. It's not a solution to the madness of covid-19 pandemic, but it certainly helps to maintain order. Feel free to drop your tips and feedback in the comments below. 

Christina Washington, Instructional Designer

Copyright (c) 2021, Innovative Learning Solutions

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