April 28, 2020

Navigating the Digital Classroom and the Need for Distance Learning in 2020

GoGuardian Team
Illustration of a women smiling and working on her computer

COVID-19 has rapidly shifted the landscape of education. UNESCO has noted that “nationwide school closures are currently impacting over 91% of the world's student population—roughly 1.6 billion children and young adults.” The same source said that 188 countries around the world have instated nationwide school closures.

Almost overnight, distance learning has become a top priority for teachers and school boards across the globe. In New York City alone, 75,000 teachers and school leaders implemented distance learning programs for over one million students.

Teachers have been thrust into digital classrooms, sometimes with little knowledge or training. Students have lost the structure that school provided, and some are struggling to adapt to the new realities we face. With schools closed, most education is now taking place online, in one form or another.

Digital classroom management is more important now than ever before. In order to successfully implement distance learning, there are several core features of digital classroom management that educators should understand—not only for navigating today’s landscape of digital learning, but also what the future could hold for education after COVID-19. It’s likely that the practices that school districts have in place today to accommodate students digitally will continue to be the “new normal” in some fashion.

Here are four areas that administrators and teachers need to focus on in order to successfully implement distance learning during COVID-19.

1. Classroom Management Software for Digital Learning

Getting kids to focus and learn can be challenging at the best of times. Transitioning to distance learning during COVID-19 could be a recipe for disaster if not managed properly. Luckily for teachers, classroom management software can help them organize, oversee, and communicate with students in a digital classroom.

There is an infinite potential for distraction online for students, which can be a downside to digital classrooms if not dealt with appropriately. Classroom management software gives teachers a real-time view of what students are doing. All of this is done remotely, so it doesn’t matter whether the students are in class or at home—the teachers will be able to control the learning environment for distractions.

Digital classroom software allows teachers to filter at the classroom level; teachers can define which sites are accessible to students (say, for a test or just a class period) and block all others. This software even lets teachers control students’ screens, close inappropriate tabs, lock screens, and take screenshots. These features, as well as the deterrent of students knowing that teachers can view their browsing history, delivers huge improvements on in-class focus.

Right now, teachers need all the help they can get managing a classroom of students through distance learning, which can be made easier with off-task alerts. By using software that gives an automatic alert when a student goes off task, they’re then able to engage with students to see why they’re not focusing and get them back to learning.

Teachers find GoGuardian Teacher™ extremely useful for classroom management. By giving teachers the ability to see whether or not a student is on-task, it helps the class do better as a whole.

2. At-Home Internet Filtering for a Controlled Learning Experience

At-home internet filtering restricts students’ access to specified websites and online content that is deemed harmful or inappropriate. Students need a safe and effective digital learning environment to thrive. At-home web filtering can protect students from harmful or distracting content and improve their digital classroom experience.

There are many at-home web filtering tools that help monitor the web traffic of students in the United States. These services provide a multi-layered content filtering solution for digital classrooms and are flexible enough to be adapted to a school’s individual policies. A major benefit for schools, especially during COVID-19, is that it takes just minutes to set up the software.

Once it’s up and running, there are advanced filtering engines that utilize context awareness in order to identify and block explicit content. It monitors everything on a student’s computer, including documents, email, social media, and internet browsing. GoGuardian Admin™ is one example of a company providing safety and peace of mind to both teachers and parents, while letting kids focus on learning.

3. Online Mental Health & Student Safety Tools

COVID-19 is stressful on everyone, and students are no exception. They are isolated from physically seeing their peers, with all activities cancelled, and the regular routines that used to structure their days are gone. Students are also missing the teachers who have become significant influential figures and supportive relationships in their everyday lives. Students are truly being challenged by the new reality of COVID-19.

Mental health issues were already common among kids and young adults before the outbreak of COVID-19. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, one in five teens has seriously considered suicide. No teacher wants to see their student become a statistic. One powerful tool that teachers and school boards can use to combat mental health issues and student self-harm is GoGuardian Beacon®. This service provides a suicide prevention tool that helps educators find students who are suffering silently. It was designed under the guidance of leading experts in the mental health field and was created through a partnership with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and The American Association of Suicidology. Beacon alerts schools to warning signs and can monitor a student’s online activity, including (but not limited to) search engines, social media, email, and web applications.

4. Teacher Training & Support

COVID-19 has taken the regular stress that teachers endure for their students and multiplied it by a large factor. Shifting to a fully digital classroom can be hard, and teachers need to be supported while they transition their students, and themselves, to distance learning. Thankfully for schools, GoGuardian is here to assist teachers in navigating the setup and management of their digital classroom.

The classroom environment changes significantly when there’s no physical classroom. Educators still have the same goals, but must use different tools to get them done. Teachers are likely to encounter many challenges and problems in the next few weeks, such as learning how to be a social comforter from afar, effectively teaching students while remote, and handling any technology issues. The GoGuardian team provides resources and training to help educators get through these tough times.

GoGuardian’s dedicated support team can be reached by email or live chat for technical issues. Implementation specialists are here to help teachers set up their digital classrooms quickly. GoGuardian also provides stellar online support resources so teachers can access all the information they might need whenever they want it.

The service includes online training courses so teachers can master the program and teach more efficiently. There is also a help center that can be used to find quick answers to teachers’ questions. It includes articles, how-to guides, and answers to frequently asked questions. If that’s not enough, GoGuardian also has weekly webinars on distance learning topics so teachers can ask questions, learn about best practices, new features, and more.

Digital Learning Will Become Easier

Distance learning has its difficulties, but with the right tools and continued support for teachers, schools can adapt and overcome the challenges of digital classroom management.

We will make it through this time. Even though things may or may not go back to exactly how they used to be, we must embrace what technology can do for us now. Even when we get back to the physical classroom, there will be huge benefits with the ability to stay fully involved in class without having to be physically present, such as when inclement weather hits or when teachers or students must take a sick day.

Whether this means blocking inappropriate content in the classroom, making it easier for teachers to go to training events, or enabling after-school help sessions and field trips, digital classroom technology is the future of teaching. GoGuardian is here to help you advance in the most stress-free way possible during the COVID crisis and into the “new normal” of education.