August 11, 2020

7 Online Learning Strategies to Prepare Educators Teaching from Home

GoGuardian Team
A child watches a teacher instruct through a computer screen

Many educators have suddenly found themselves teaching from home. They have lost their normal routines, face-to-face interaction with students, and much more. In addition, they are being asked to shift to teaching completely online.

A lot has changed for teachers recently, but desiring to provide the best education to students remains the same. Although the switch to distance learning isn’t easy for anyone, we have seven online learning strategies to help prepare educators teaching from home.

In this article, we will go over practical strategies that teachers can use to improve their online classrooms. These successful strategies include establishing a home base for your students, using a mix of offline and online learning tools to promote better engagement, fostering student reflection, and more.

7 Successful Online Learning Strategies to Prepare Educators Teaching from Home

Set Up a Digital Home Base for Your Students

One incredibly successful online learning strategy is setting up a digital home base. Teachers can use a district-provided learning management system (like Google Classroom or Canvas) or get creative and build their own website. There are tons of free tools that make it easy (and free) to set up a digital homeroom.

A digital home base is a place where teachers can keep up-to-date information, post lessons, and share whatever else students need for success available online 24/7. Many teachers include their teaching sequence or unit plan, activities, and assignments. In addition, some teachers add resources like videos, links, and printable handouts.

Students often become accustomed to the routine of checking in with their digital home base, which helps keep them on track and keeps them updated on what is going on in class. A digital home base exists to cultivate stability and a sense of routine in students.

In addition, a classroom’s digital home base can act as a useful resource for students who have missed lessons and need to catch up on class material. Online learning requires students to take charge of their own education because teachers can’t walk by a student’s desk to offer guidance or support like they can in a classroom. A digital home base keeps students on track, helps them make up for missed classes, and gives them the resources to learn at their own pace.

Use a Mix of Online and Offline Learning Tools to Promote Engagement

One of the top online teaching strategies that teachers can implement in their digital classrooms is to provide class material in a variety of formats. Providing educational content in different formats such as text, video, audio, and interactive content helps make coursework more engaging for students and promotes active learning.

Students who struggle with a certain medium will be at a major disadvantage if that medium is the sole method of engaging with the material. Consider students with dyslexia or hearing and attention problems; there are certain pupils who will greatly benefit from being exposed to different learning methods.

Learning methods that teachers may want to try as part of their online teaching strategy to promote better engagement may include live classes via a video streaming platform, video lectures, gamified online learning tools, or even a class blog.

Prioritize Student-Led Assignments

As far as successful online learning strategies go, it’s hard to beat long, student-driven assignments. They are great for both teachers and students. For teachers, long, student-led assignments effectively manage your time—and sometimes your sanity. While students are busy working on their own or in groups on their assignments, you have time to plan future lessons.

Student-led assignments are great for at-home learners too. They keep students engaged and encourage active learning. Teachers should focus on building long-term projects that provide students with autonomy and have a clear set of objectives and deadlines.

Teachers should try to create opportunities for students to discuss their projects, whether that be with their family, other students, or even friends.

Utilize Individual Touchpoints

Utilizing individual touchpoints is an incredibly useful online teaching strategy. Your students will miss the human connection they used to have during in-person class. Students notice the small interactions teachers have with them—in the hallways, before and after class, or during breaks.

One of the hardest parts of distance learning is trying to give your students the same level of interaction they used to have in school. Creating personalized touchpoints online will help students feel more comfortable during class and more able to focus.

Teachers can create these touchpoints through any medium they want, including email, video message, phone calls, chats in a learning management system, or even comments on shared documents. Students will notice and appreciate when teachers reach out to cultivate these interactions.

Keep It Simple

One of the easiest online learning strategies for teachers to implement is to keep things simple.

It’s important to design distance learning educational experiences to have very clear instructions and require as few resources as possible. It’s always a good idea for teachers to have a digital copy of learning resources readily available online for their students to access.

Remember that it still takes time and effort to create simple lesson plans. Tasks with little instructions often require the most high-order thinking. Online education should encourage all teachers to think about how they can be more concise with their introduction of new information.

Provide Ongoing Feedback to Students

Getting feedback is important for students no matter the learning environment. Distance learning is no exception to this. Providing feedback helps teachers foster a digital learning environment that is engaging, informative, and motivational to students.

Teachers should provide feedback continuously over the term. Giving constructive feedback (as early as possible) allows students to identify which skills or behaviors need to be worked on.

Educators would also do well by encouraging group feedback in addition to teacher-provided feedback. Doing so can promote peer engagement and encourage collaboration.

Foster Student Reflection

Teachers should be sure to encourage students in their online classrooms to reflect on their learning. Metacognition and reflection are integral to learning in any setting, including online. All of the online learning strategies in this article will be worthless if teachers can’t get students to reflect on their learning. Reflecting on one’s learning builds a greater understanding of the content.

Teachers need to be intentional in guiding students to reflect on their learning. However, reflection activities don’t need to be just dull ways to assess understanding. Some teachers utilize quizzes, discussion posts, podcasts, or even written prompts to assist students in reflecting on their learning.

If you’re a teacher who has found yourself suddenly thrust into a digital classroom without much preparation, you are not alone. Making the shift to digital classes can be difficult, but doable. Let the team at GoGuardian help ease that transition. The tools and resources available in the Distance Learning Resource Center can help support teachers and educators navigating the digital classroom today.