Over the years, humanity has changed their perspective of the world in almost every single aspect from technological advances to medical treatments. However, with all those changes education seems to have been left behind and somewhat neglected.
After all these years traditional education has been stuck in time basing most of its system within the strict and retrograde discipline where students are obliged to attend physical classrooms. This environment has a lot of limitations because the place does not adapt to the necessities and abilities of every student as an individual.
Education is not only about sitting in a classroom and paying attention to what the teacher has to say, but it also should offer a comfortable learning experience, a sense of individuality and independence.
In this regard the online environment can offer a lot more and is way more flexible than the traditional model of education. It is no surprise that in the last years the e-learning solutions have been on a steady upward trajectory. The COVID-19 pandemic has only speeded up the process revealing the consumers’ strong demand for online learning and teaching services and tools.
It must be noted, however, that it is not easy at all for teachers, educators, and students to make that jump. It is because the differences between both systems are significant and the transition process itself is quite challenging. Many students and educators are still not familiar with the functioning of online schooling tools. It is, then, essential to follow some tips and recommendations to make that transition easier.
It is important to consider which tools to use to make your online environment a comfortable place and guarantee the highest quality of the learning process.
Here are some tips on how to make the transition process easier.
Two starting tips for educators and teachers to successfully switch to online schooling
Transmitting clear instructions to students
Misunderstanding is probably one of the biggest obstacles in the learning process. In the physical environment it is reasonably easy to clarify any problems or doubts students might have. Online education, however, requires much more engagement on the part of the teacher to make sure that all the activities and instructions are as clear to students as possible. Precision is an inseparable element in online learning. Confusing tasks and unclear instructions can add complexity to the process and create more doubts than answers.
Finding the best platform
Find a platform where you can upload the support material for your classes so that your students can download it and get clear instructions for every class. You can search for a platform that lets you schedule the release of the material at a proper time. This is often referred to as drip-feeding and it is a great way to control your content delivery.
In online learning students need additional attention and orientation. They are going to take control and responsibility of their learning process themselves, but you can make things easier if you use a platform with a checklist. This will allow you to see your students’ progress and react accordingly.
What free video-conferencing tools are out there
A perfect tool is all that matters. No matter how experienced a teacher can be, they won’t accomplish much without the right tool. In fact, online education has to move one or even more steps further to offer something new and overcome all kinds of barriers that traditional education cannot.
Technology is constantly changing and improving; therefore, it is important to stay up to date with the latest trends in the e-learning industry.
Here are some of the best conferencing tools for online education:
This is a totally free video conferencing tool which allows you to create a virtual meeting room with four people at the same time. It is a web-based tool so you do not need to download and install any software to start your online meeting. Also, no registration is required. Apart from the standard features like video, audio and chat, participants also can interact with each other using an in-built interactive whiteboard.
This tool is very similar to a social network. It allows you to create a complete educational online environment with teaching materials and the feature to measure your students’ performance.
This tool, apart from having the standard video conferencing features, allows for creating interactive games and exercises, which is a fun way of learning while playing. The teacher can see the results and adjust the tasks to improve students’ performance.
It is another example of a tool with a platform-like structure where teachers can plan their classes and monitor students’ progress and performance.
Features and functionalities of online tools worth considering
The fact that there are so many apps and platforms for online collaboration does not mean that every one of them is suitable for you. You need to be aware of some important things before you make the decision to pick the right one.
Ease of use
It does not matter how many great features a particular tool has. If you cannot understand the functioning of the platform neither will your students.
The tool should let your students check the material when they are not connected to the Internet. It should allow them to download materials so they can read them at any moment.
The tool you choose for having your online classes has to be more than just an online video collaboration tool. It has to be versatile enough not to limit your methods of teaching. After all, at some point in the process of teaching or learning you may want to incorporate some new elements, such as interactive activities to properly monitor and evaluate students’ progress.
The tool has to adapt to the use of smartphones and tablets since students are more comfortable with tools and apps on their mobile devices.
Things to watch out for
The right online video collaboration tool is just a part of the e-learning system and online teaching methodology. There are, however, some other things that are just as important and definitely worth looking into if you want to avoid future problems.
Record your online sessions
If your students have constant problems with the internet connection, they are probably going to miss some parts of the live streaming transmissions. Consider recording your online sessions so that your students could download and view them at a later time.
Creating engagement with your students
Always show turn on your video and show your face during an online session. This will increase your credibility and keep you students much more engaged.
Ensuring complete focus and attention
The attention time span is usually shorter than we think. This is especially true in an online session where participants are forced to sit in front of their computer screens for some time. Think about structuring your session in blocks of 15 minutes with 2 or 3-minute breaks in between.
Make sure you face is well lit. You can bring your computer to the window or use a special ring light in front of you so that people can see you.
Look at the camera
It may seem obvious but you always need to make sure that you are looking straight at the camera. Do some tests beforehand and record yourself to see whether your eyes are looking at the right direction.