Most students struggle in at least one project, assignment, or subject area throughout the school year. Unfortunately, there is no single method of teaching that helps all students succeed in their studies and the role of facilitating different forms of learning falls on the teacher. It can be a challenging task in a typical brick and mortar school, but it can be even more daunting for teachers of online schools to find innovative ways to enhance learning through a primarily digitalized world where students are geographically dispersed and are a part of an asynchronous learning environment. There are a variety of resources available to educators that can help break down the geographical barrier and learning roadblocks that many students face at some point during their academic journey in an online school.
Teacher-Student Communication. Receiving regular communication from some students can be one of the biggest struggles in distance learning. Having instant chat software, such as Google Hangouts, is a great way to facilitate instant responses to student questions as it can be accessed through both computers and cell phones. There is always the concern from parents and teachers about online chats, which have been known to prompt cyberbullying and the sharing of unwanted content. FlexiSPY’s Google Hangouts app allows parents to discreetly monitor their child’s chats and help prevent any sending of content that could put their child in harm’s way.
Creating Digital Content. Online classrooms provide a space for students to have a voice in their learning. According to the popular multiple intelligences theory, every child has their own learning style through which they learn best. To accommodate the wide range of student learning styles in the online classroom, teachers should allow students to use their strengths in order to express themselves. Students can prove their learning using digital tools such as blogs, videos, PowerPoints, podcasts, music, and digital artwork, to name a few. The online classroom is an effective space for teachers to integrate these digital tools in order to achieve the highest degree of authentic learning.
Assessment. As methods for student learning change, teacher assessment methods must also change. Digital assessment tools, such as Kahoot, Google Forms, and Rubrics, are programs that can assess a variety of student learning styles in a single manner. Kahoot is an app that gamifies learning and allows the teacher to formatively check student understanding either before, during, or after a lesson. Not only should teachers be providing feedback and assessment to students, but they should also be receiving feedback from students regarding their courses, teaching methods, and classroom environment. Google Forms is an efficient data-collection system through which teachers can send out questionnaires to students requesting feedback in all three said categories.
Distance education is becoming more prominent and it can be a challenging task to unify so many geographically dispersed students, but it should always be the goal of an online teacher to empower students to take responsibility for their learning and provide them with the digital tools required to do so.