Setting Up a Remote Classroom
Is your school closed due to the 2020 coronavirus outbreak? Good news! Setting up a remote classroom isn't as hard as you think. It just takes a good deal of preparation up front, so when the class actually begins you have as few stumbles as possible.
The following steps can help you get started:
- Review your online learning materials
- Pick a learning management system (LMS)
- Select a calendar app
- Select a communications app to speak to your students and parents
- Select a live streaming app to actually teach
- Create ideas for interactive student collaboration
- Review tips to keep calm and focused during anxious times
Study.com and Learning Materials
First, you will need to compile a list of learning materials for your students. Remember, many schools closed on short notice, so they may not have access to their textbooks. Also, they may not be allowed to go to a library either.
Study.com is a great website for you and your students to begin your online educational journey. You can access thousands of entertaining yet informative animated videos of five to ten minutes in duration. The online learning platform includes activities, assignments, discussion questions, quizzes, and project ideas. Study.com will work with school districts and teachers to answer any of their concerns and meet their educational needs.
Learning Management System (LMS)
The next thing you will need to teach online is a learning management system (LMS). The two main types of these systems are cloud-based and open-source. Your school may already have an LMS, but if not, you have dozens to choose from to fit your needs. Examples include:
- Canvas (open)
- Chamilo (open)
- Docebo (cloud)
- Google Classroom (cloud)
- Moodle (open)
- Udutu (cloud)
Also available are online blackboards, chalkboards, and whiteboards to facilitate your educational necessities. Examples include:
After you have selected an LMS, the next logical thing you will want to do is learn how to use your calendar app, so you can plan your day. Again, you have plenty of calendar apps to choose from when organizing your online teaching. They include:
- Apple Calendar
- Google Calendar
- Outlook Calendar
You can use these handy calendar apps, among other things to:
- Add documents
- Add links
- Create events
- Invite individuals
Communicating With Students
Okay, now that you have selected your LMS and have your calendar in order, you will want to literally speak to your students live and in real-time, just as if you were standing face-to-face with them. Fortunately, you have several methodologies of accomplishing this as well. They include:
- Hangouts Meet
Communicating With Parents and Guardians
In addition to communicating with your students, don't forget you will want to touch base with their parents and guardians as well. After all, during unsettling times they are going to be anxious and stressed too, and will probably have more questions than they would during the course of a 'normal' school year in which schools were in session.
What's next? You have everything in place, so it's time to actually start live streaming your classes. This may be the most nerve-wracking part of the online teaching experience, so don't forget to take some deep breaths and relax. After all, it's really no different than standing in front of a group of students, although at first it may seem scarier to you. These apps include:
- Broadcast Me
In addition to you just lecturing, you will want to incorporate hands-on activities and project ideas into your teachings. How can you do that when so many 'social distancing' measures are in place? Fortunately for you, it is highly likely your students are better than you at collaborating online, so they will have no problem working together. Ideas include:
- Create a list of discussion questions about a particular topic, divide your students into small groups, and have them engage in a lively online debate.
- Design an 'online scavenger hunt' in which they have to find out facts about an important date in history.
- Encourage them to use online graphics to create designs of some famous people from the past.
First and foremost, remember that this online adventure is going to be new to you, your students, as well as the parents and guardians. As with any new venture, there will exist some fear and trepidation. Therefore, you will be part teacher, part coach, part therapist, and part friend to them.
Secondly, it will be tougher at times for students to grasp a new concept when you are not right directly in front of them to explain it, so don't worry if you have to repeat things several times. You may want to consider slightly lowing your grading standards too, and allow for a few extra misses on exams.
Third, it is tantamount to your success that you let the students know you are still in charge. Let them know there are still consequences, punishments, rules, and repercussions. This is not a spring break party, but a crucial learning experience that counts toward their graduations and their college records. While you want to keep the teaching aspect light and fun, you will have to ensure appropriate boundaries are still in place as well.
The transition from classroom learning to online learning is a challenging one, but with a little creativity and perseverance it can be done. As your go-to virtual educational platform, Study.com is a terrific online source for learning a variety of subjects. Learning management systems, calendar apps, and live streaming will all combine together to give you a solid online teaching experience.