The coronavirus outbreak has considerably affected education systems on a global scale. With schools and universities closing, and students going into self-isolation, teachers have a very challenging task ahead of them. How to keep learning going during this pandemic?
There are a few tips we have for you, that might help you, as a teacher, and your students these days. Using eLearning software, or online training software, if you prefer, is only a part of the solution. Porting everything you’ve been doing in the classroom to a virtual one is challenging.
Having said that, there are a few things teachers can do to promote and facilitate learning even during the virus outbreak as well as students to keep going and stay motivated!
Understand the situation
We are aware that you have certain milestones in the curriculum. On the other hand, we are facing something we have never encountered before, at least not in these proportions. To make the best of the situation, you have to acknowledge it.
First of all, your students are probably scared. Coronavirus has a high infection rate, and to prevent it from spreading, countries are implementing extra measures. Your students see this, and most of them don’t have the previous knowledge or experience to help them cope with the new situation.
Students are also forced to spend most of their waking hours indoors. Some of them don’t live in big enough houses and apartments and have to spend time with their parents and siblings. All of this can affect the students’ mood, motivation, and attention span.
With this in mind, it will be easier for you to show compassion and offer solutions to keep the learning going during the pandemic.
Make It As Flexible As Possible With Online Training Software
Punctuality, deadlines, and prerequisites are trademarks of the learning process in all education systems. All of it is fine when the system is working as intended. But students are at their homes now, and they are not on a strict schedule. To promote learning, you have to extend an olive branch and allow students to learn when they want and at their own pace.
You can easily achieve this with online training software. You probably already have some learning material in docs, PDFs, and presentations. You can import all this in eLearning software and invite your students.
Thanks to analytics and reports, you can see the course completion rates for students individually and set the deadlines according to their learning pace. Your job as a teacher at this moment is to closely monitor their progress and make changes on the go. You are treading uncharted waters here, so keep your expectations and goals accordingly.
Technology is your Friend
Standard learning requires a substantial amount of space in an apartment. Students use books, notebooks, markers, and other accessories and learning aids. Don’t forget that, with the whole family at home, space might be a problem. Fortunately, most students have access to smartphones and tablets.
Modern online training software solutions are completely mobile-friendly. All the learning material that you create and upload will automatically become mobile-ready. You will be doing a huge favor to your students. They will be able to plug their headphones, focus on learning, and forget about the outbreak.
Assign Group Projects
Working in small groups is beneficial for students. It promotes a deeper understanding of study materials, lowers the level of anxiety and stress, and helps students master collaborative skills. More importantly, it promotes interdependence and interactivity, which can help them overcome the challenges of living and learning during a pandemic.
Depending on the country, students might still be able to hang out and work in small groups. Even if this is not the case, thanks to eLearning software, you can enable group activities via videoconferencing, message boards, and group chat.
With mobile courses, you can make teamwork even more accessible. Come up with a reward system to incentivise group activities and devote some time to create challenging and fun activities to keep students engaged.
Consider All Requests and Suggestions – Feedback matters!
You know your students. They have hundreds of questions and requests on a daily basis, even when the situation is regular. Today, the situation is far from ordinary, and you should expect even more questions. Some of them will be relevant to the learning materials, but others will certainly be related to new coronavirus and pandemic.
The chances are that some parents will get involved too. With so many requests, suggestions, and questions, you can feel under pressure. Stay strong and remember what we talked about at the start. Courses can wait. Leverage the relationship you have with these people, consider all their requests and suggestions, and try to meet them halfway.
Make Yourself Reachable
If you are using an eLearning software solution, you probably have means of communicating directly with your students through it. While this is convenient for some students, some would prefer access to other means of communication. Make yourself reachable, but set some privacy boundaries as well. It might be nice to try out other communication channels that are exclusively work related, such as Slack.
You can easily do it by becoming available through more apps. Talk with your students about it. The more channels, the better, as you will be able to cater to the individual needs of your students. As for the boundaries, you can notify them about the hours you will be there to answer their questions and provide any assistance, if necessary.
Gamification Is Your Friend
Modern eLearning software comes with great gamification features. You should leverage these features to make learning fun and engaging. There are plenty of options. You can go with your achievements, leaderboards, or badges. Gamification can help you keep your students interested in the courses and keep them coming back on a regular basis.
This can also have a beneficial effect on their mental health. Keeping them engaged with the course materials will help blow off some steam and reduce stress.
Bring Coronavirus Updates Onto The Curriculum
Have you considered bringing COVID-19 onto the curriculum? It might be an excellent idea. There are a lot of fake news and rumors circulating online. Students might be confused. You can bring short daily updates about the coronavirus onto the curriculum, no matter what you teach. This way you ensure that your students are updated by trustworthy sources.
Gather the information from the relevant sources, such as the World Health Organisation, LiveScience, and other credible websites. Identify the connections between your subject, community, and how the virus affects it.
For instance, promote creativity in your students and ask them how the knowledge they have obtained so far can help them provide support to those around them and offer comfort.
Flexibility is the Key
Assessing student activity online is so much easier than in the standard classroom. You can see when they started the course and how far they are into it. And, let’s not mention automatic grading. The latest online training software is xAPI based, meaning that you can track their learning activities outside of your courses.
This can help you enrich your learning materials and surprise your students by giving them credit for showcasing the interest of going one step further and looking for information elsewhere. Use reports and analytics regularly to discover trends and problems early on. Positive reinforcement is important these days and will definitely keep students motivated!
If you have some spare time, you can step up your efforts and start working on individual learning paths to make your course relevant, powerful, and engaging.
So far so good.. but what about the student’s side?
Students, Make Learning a Routine, But Diversify It
The Coronavirus pandemic has not only scrambled teachers’ minds but students’ as well. Learning at home can prove particularly hard with the whole family, roomies or the boyfriend present at all times. To help you and the people you are living with adjust to new challenges, you should add learning to your daily routine.
It would be easier for everyone when you make it a 9 am to 12 am activity, for instance. Timing is everything during these days. You can go with whatever time frame suits you. Don’t forget that you can do it in several sittings throughout the day instead of one.
Learning from home can turn into a boring activity, especially when you can’t go out to blow off some steam. Consider diversifying it. Staying up-to-date with the online program of your school or university is still primary, but there is plenty of online content that you can access to diversify learning.
We are not talking only about reading chunks of texts on your screen. There are educational videos and online PC and mobile games that are also fun and engaging. You can even invite your classmates to go on a virtual field trip together. Many museums and art galleries have made their virtual tours free during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s definitely not easy to keep the learning going during the coronavirus pandemic, but as we just saw, it is possible. With few changes to your approach, smart use of online training software, making yourself reachable, and acknowledging the situation, you can provide support to your students and keep the learning going even during these hard times. All the best and take care.
Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & eLearning authoring tools – currently associated with ProProfs Training Maker