The shift to online learning didn’t start during the pandemic. But lockdowns and closures of schools did accelerate its adoption. The unscheduled switch to online classes affected 90% of the world’s students and didn’t allow schools much time to plan and restructure learning and teaching approaches. As most of the world is still cautious about opening school doors, kids and their parents need a reliable and easily accessible source of information and help – the school website. Not only that, schools need to ensure that they all have a positive experience during these stressful times. Below are some useful tips that schools can implement to promote the love of learning to their students whether they’re digital or offline.
Come Up With Effective Teaching Methods
It’s impossible to engage everyone while you’re teaching a face-to-face class. It’s even more problematic when the teaching is done online. There are plenty of distractions at home that can easily take away their focus. It’s also much easier for them to get away with it. Moreover, switching to remote learning is not easy.
Obviously, you have to keep your students interested in what you’re sharing with them. You need to have a clear understanding of who they are individually and what interests they have. More importantly, you need to adopt various teaching methods to ensure that everyone is benefiting from their online class.
To help you figure out which strategies will work on your students, here are some effective online teaching methods that have made online learning much more engaging to students this past year:
- Game-based teaching. Increase student engagement and learning by utilizing games.
- Use an online whiteboard or mind map. Allow your students to brainstorm ideas, take interactive quizzes, and draw diagrams and charts to share with the rest of the class.
- Ask your students to create content. Allow them to work together or individually in creating digital stories about lessons you’ve discussed using various software such as Powerpoint.
Make Learning Materials Accessible
Every child has a right to an education, whether it’s done face-to-face or online. Schools need to ensure that all their students are able to access educational materials. The switch to remote learning has been a struggle for most students, but it has been extremely challenging for nearly 7 million of them who have a disability. It’s not easy for this group to get the same access to instruction and support online. They are faced with unique barriers such as a lower level of comfort with using technology. It’s the school’s responsibility to ensure that their transition is as easy as possible.
One way to provide disabled students access to information and educational materials is to ensure ADA compliance for school websites. To make their website accessible, schools can:
- Provide text alternatives for audio and visual content.
- Ensure keyboard functionality.
- Make text readable and understandable.
- Make the website compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers.
Provide in-Depth Feedback
It’s important that our students are provided constant and meaningful feedback, especially when they’re feeling isolated from their teachers and peers at home. Consistent communication about what they need to learn, how they are progressing, and what they can do to reach their goal.
Good feedback is not just about giving your students their grades or telling them they did a “good job.” In order to be effective, you need to have a clear understanding of the target that your student needs to reach. What do you want your students to achieve? More importantly, the goals you set need to be actionable.
Assess Your Students’ Progress
The first step to providing your student with feedback is to see if your students are on track to meeting the goal/s you have set for them. You need to assess how much they have mastered the lesson, whether it’s learning how to write or having a clear understanding of algebraic equations. How are they doing in class, particularly during discussions? How well does he meet the class requirements? What are his test scores?
Identify any Potential Obstacle
After the assessment, you need to get specific insight on what obstacles are preventing them from reaching their goal. What is stopping him from mastering the lesson? Is it the teaching method used? Is he getting bored during online classes?
Suggest Solutions if Necessary
For feedback to be truly effective, you need to provide your students with solutions. Value-based statements such as “needs improvement” or “good job” will not help them understand what they can do to progress and achieve their goal. Effective feedback requires concrete, descriptive information that can help your students improve their work. If they don’t know how to improve, it will be easy for them to give up. So, how can he do better?
Future of Education
Traditional education has been undergoing a radical change over the past few years. The switch to remote learning isn’t going to go away even after the pandemic ends. Online education is here to stay. While some students may go back to the traditional classroom experience, others may choose online education because it suits their needs and goals. Schools need to make sure that all their students, whether learning in school or out of it, are able to access the same support and instruction.
BIO: David Gevorkian started Be Accessible because of his passion for website accessibility and ADA compliance. He spent much of his career working for financial institutions creating websites and mobile applications. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. David is an advocate for creating web interfaces usable by all people. He enjoys recording music and playing soccer with friends.