Tips for Teachers Transitioning to Remote Learning

Written by TeachingDegree.org Staff


COVID-19 has prompted many school boards to embrace remote learning to protect the health and safety of teachers, staff, and students. For thousands of teachers, the virtual learning environment is unfamiliar. This guide covers remote learning tips and strategies in detail to help educators plan and execute a successful transition to online learning.

Online learning quickly caught on as a solution to logistical challenges posed by the pandemic. According to Gallup polling data, 65% of parents said their children engaged with online learning in March 2020. That figure spiked to 83% in a matter of weeks, and by May 2020, as many as 99% of American teachers were engaging their students in distance learning, according to a RAND Corporation survey.

Some U.S. schools plan to reopen as usual in the fall of 2020, while others intend to offer online-only classes for at least part of the 2020-21 school year. In most cases, schools that decided to stick with virtual learning also adopted specific online educational platforms for their teachers to use. Educators must adhere to administrative guidance on how to deploy these online methods correctly, safely, and effectively.

To that end, teachers with reliable online teaching strategies are best equipped to successfully engage their students. The resources provided here offer insights into how to teach remotely without sacrificing educational integrity.

Common Remote Learning Challenges Faced by Teachers

Meet the Expert

Carolyn Parker bio photo

Carolyn Parker

Carolyn Parker is the director of the master of arts in teaching program and a senior professional lecturer in the school of education at American University.

Caroline Parker, director of the master of arts in teaching program at American University, helped us outline some of the challenges of remote learning, which may include:

  • A Sense of Isolation Among Students: Most elementary and secondary students have little to no prior experience with online learning. For many, the sudden, abrupt shift to distance-based platforms coincided with increasing senses of isolation and disconnectedness. Social aspects of the traditional school environment offer immense value and remain difficult to replicate in digital spaces.
  • Lack of Motivation: Isolation from peers and a lack of in-person accountability can evolve into a loss of motivation among students.
  • Challenges Assessing Student Learning: This issue particularly applies to younger students learning crucial skills like letter and number formation, sentence-writing, and paragraph-writing. Many educators find it particularly difficult to monitor learners' progress with these types of skills in online environments.
  • Technical Problems: Teachers may experience problems with their online learning platforms, while students learning from home sometimes face connectivity issues. In some cases, class members may lack home-based internet access, creating further obstacles. Parker called access challenges "a serious equity issue," saying, "I think with careful planning at the societal and district level, issues of access can be diminished, but not entirely eliminated."
  • Difficulties Keeping Students Engaged: "Classroom management strategies that are exacerbated with remote learning are student attendance and engagement," Parker said. Home environments come with lots of distractions, especially for young people who spend their entire day online with little direct supervision, if any. Thus, educators need dynamic, effective ways to keep students' attention focused on virtual learning.

Teachers must apply foresight and planning to anticipate and overcome these challenges and others that may arise. Fortunately, educators who know how to teach online can offer a multitude of experience-based insights.

Online Teaching Tips By Platform

Teachers seeking ways to overcome the unique challenges of the virtual classroom can start by learning their school's online teaching platform. Begin this process by carefully reviewing the platform-specific safety and privacy guidelines issued by school administrators. Create a strong understanding of your school's platform, and become as proficient in it as possible. Moreover, review the information in the subsections below, which cover several of the most popular and widely used virtual teaching tools.


How to Use Zoom to Teach Online

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the U.S., Zoom quickly emerged as the platform of choice for many schools that moved online. Headquartered in the Silicon Valley area, Zoom traces its history to 2011. Its creators launched the first version of the platform in 2013.

Zoom exploded in popularity after hundreds of thousands of schools closed in the wake of COVID-19. Since April 2020, Zoom has released dozens of software updates intended to improve the platform's strong utility as a replacement for the traditional classroom.

While some privacy and security controversies have overshadowed this success, teachers generally approve of Zoom. In one EdWeek Market Brief teacher survey, most respondents said that live video conferencing tools like Zoom were "very effective" for teaching math and language arts to students learning from home during the pandemic.

Key Features

Feature Y/N Notes
Integrated Calendar Scheduling Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Skype, HipChat, Appointlet
Personal Meeting Rooms Users obtain ongoing access to personal Zoom meeting rooms by submitting a unique digital ID or following an authorized link
Wait Rooms Zoom supports customized logos, titles, descriptions, and wait room messages
Password-Protected Rooms Zoom uses passcode-based credentials
Ability to Lock the Room
Co-Host Ability No limit on the number of co-hosts, but the main host must designate them
Specialized Host Powers Hosts retain precision control over participant management, recording, streaming, and many other features
Automatic Attendance Zoom automatically logs attendance, but hosts must request attendance reports manually
Recording
Private Chats Hosts do not have access to users' private chats
Group Chats
Chat Logs Zoom can log chats, but teachers/hosts/co-hosts cannot access private chat logs between participants
Transcription Generated as .vtt text files
Mute All Control
Video Mute Control Hosts and co-hosts can stop or start video streaming for some or all participants
Screenshare Teachers and students both have the ability to share their screens
Whiteboard Hosts can open or restrict access to the whiteboard among participants

Users with access to the whiteboard have "annotating" privileges
Breakout Rooms Teachers can join, edit, and move between up to 50 separate breakout rooms
Reactions Clapping, thumbs-up, heart, tears of joy, open mouth (surprise), party popper (celebration)
Polls or Quizzes Zoom supports poll and Q&A formats

Both planned and "pop" tests and quizzes are available
Custom Backgrounds
View Options Zoom offers three standard views: Speaker, Thumbnail, and Gallery

Techy Tips

Mute Student Microphones on Entry

This feature helps prevent disruption when a new student joins the room with a session already in progress. To mute student microphones on entry:

  1. Go to Manage Participants
  2. Select Mute All
  3. Select Allow Participants to Unmute Themselves
  4. Click Continue

This temporarily disables students' microphones and cameras as they join the virtual classroom. They can then unmute themselves to participate.

Use Breakout Rooms for Group Discussions and Projects

Breakout rooms enable students to assemble in smaller groups to discuss learning materials or engage in collaborative work. The basic steps for starting a breakout room proceed as follows:

  1. Start your regular Zoom meeting
  2. Select Breakout Rooms
  3. Specify the number of rooms you want to create
  4. Decide how to assign and distribute participants among the various rooms

This sets up the breakout rooms, but they do not launch right away. First, teachers must apply the desired management and customization features, which encompass a long list of specific features. For more, consult this Zoom tutorial on managing breakout rooms.

Enable Transcription for Later Student Reference

Text-based transcripts of Zoom sessions offer students valuable reference materials for later study or review. They also provide teachers with records of classroom proceedings, which often prove useful for pedagogical and administrative purposes.

To set up the transcription of a Zoom session, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to Zoom
  2. Navigate to User Management > Group Management
  3. Find your Group Name in the list and click Settings
  4. Navigate to Recording > Cloud Recording
  5. Open Advanced Cloud Recording Settings
  6. Click the Audio Transcript box
  7. Click Save

Zoom allows teachers to do many other things with audio recordings and transcripts. To learn more, review this Zoom resource.

Temporarily (or Permanently) Enable or Disable Chat Features

Toggling the chat feature on and off gives teachers more control over the virtual classroom environment. User-to-user chat features enable collaboration and communication, but they can also be a distraction.

  1. Start a meeting as the host
  2. Go to Meeting Controls > Chat
  3. Click More
  4. Under "Allow Attendees to Chat With...," select the desired option

To enable or disable private chats between students:

  1. Sign in
  2. Click Settings
  3. Toggle Chat and Private Chat to the desired settings
  4. Click Save

Use Simultaneous Screen-Sharing to Enable Whiteboard Annotations

Shared whiteboards heighten engagement between teachers and students, and they help make learners more active participants in lessons. Whiteboards are also highly effective instructional tools, particularly for process-oriented subjects.

Zoom supports the simultaneous sharing of whiteboards between users, along with annotation features that allow students to edit whiteboards. Follow these steps to enable shared annotated whiteboards:

  1. Find the meeting toolbar and click Share Screen
  2. Click Whiteboard
  3. Click Share
  4. Enable the desired Annotation Tools in the accompanying menu
  5. Click Stop Share to end student access

Zoom's Training Resources

Teachers can access the following training resources directly on the Zoom website:

They can also access support services specifically designed for the COVID-19 pandemic, refer to these Top 20 Zoom resources, and use the Zoom Training Center FAQ page to learn more about how to use Zoom for online teaching.


How to Teach Remotely Using Google Meet

Developed by Silicon Valley giant Alphabet through its flagship Google company, Google Meet launched in 2017. Anyone with a Google account enjoys access to the service, which supports online, video-based meetings for up to 100 people.

This platform's free version normally limits meetings to 60 minutes, but Google has enabled conferences of up to 24 hours through September 2020 at minimum. Schools can also access two paid versions -- G Suite Essentials and G Suite Enterprise Essentials -- which offer more features. Teachers praise Google Meet's intuitive setup, but many note that it lacks some of its competitors' features.

Key Features

Feature Y/N Notes
Integrated Calendar Scheduling Supports Google Calendar integrations
Personal Meeting Rooms
Wait Rooms
Password-Protected Rooms Free and paid versions of the platform both use two-step authentication
Ability to Lock the Room Hosts can remove participants but Google Meet does not currently offer a "lock the room" function
Co-Host Ability Google Meet does not currently allow display configurations to show multiple hosts
Specialized Host Powers Hosts can mute participants and remove participants from rooms to prevent disruptions
Automatic Attendance Google plans to roll out this feature with G Suite Enterprise for Education in October 2020

A Google Meet Attendance extension for Google Chrome is already available
Recording Recordings automatically save to Google Drive with G Suite Enterprise versions of the platform
Private Chats
Group Chats
Chat Logs Google Meet does not allow users or hosts to export chat logs
Transcription Users require a third-party service to generate and access text transcripts
Mute All Control Reportedly under development as of June 2020
Video Mute Control
Screenshare Users and hosts cannot interact with shared screens as of August 2020
Whiteboard Available through the Google Jamboard extension
Breakout Rooms Reportedly under development as of July 2020 for inclusion in a future release
Reactions Available through browser extensions, such as Nod for Google Chrome
Polls or Quizzes
Custom Backgrounds
View Options Grid view, tile view

Techy Tips

Invite Students to Join a Meeting

After creating a classroom meeting window in Google Meet, teachers can invite students to join sessions in several different ways:

  1. Use an email or messaging service to distribute the Google Meet link and PIN code to meeting participants. Teachers can retrieve these details by clicking on "Copy Joining Info" after creating the meeting room.
  2. Add students to the meeting roll manually by using the "Add People" feature to invite participants individually using their email addresses or other contact information.
  3. Meeting participants who do not have Google accounts can still join meetings by following the invite link and clicking "Ask to Join." Teachers must approve these requests manually.

Take Attendance

Google expects to launch an automatic attendance-tracking feature during the autumn of 2020, which it plans to add to G Suite Enterprise versions of the platform. In the meantime (and for those planning to stick with free versions), follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Google Chrome Web Store and find the Google Chrome Attendance browser extension.
  2. Click "Add to Chrome" to download and install the extension.
  3. Click on "Help" or "Settings" when the extension appears on the Google Meet welcome screen to customize its functionality.

Most teachers find it easiest to add and name a class, link the class name to the extension, and use the tool to automatically manage attendance from there.

Display Video While Using a Whiteboard

Many teachers prefer to remain visible to their students in a video pane while explaining class material shown on a whiteboard. Google Meet supports this feature in a roundabout way, but teachers need both an Android smartphone and a desktop computer system to use it.

Follow these steps:

  1. On Android: Go to the Google Play store, download Google Meet, and install it.
  2. On a PC: Open Google Meet, click "Start a Meeting," then click "Join Now."
  3. On Android: Open Google Meet and join the meeting created in Step 2.
  4. On Android: Switch the active camera lens on the smartphone from front to back.
  5. Place the Android device on a tripod or another steady mount. Position the camera to face the whiteboard.
  6. Put the smartphone camera in Portrait mode.
  7. On Android: Mute the audio in Google Meet to prevent distortion.
  8. On Android: Mute the speaker on the smartphone by reducing the volume to zero.

Students will see both video feeds at the same time when joining the meeting, enabling teachers to remain visible while explaining whiteboard materials.

Enable Study Groups in a Class Meeting

Breakout rooms remain in development, but in the meantime, Google Meet users can try the following workaround strategy:

  1. Use Google Slides to create breakout rooms and add students to individual subgroups as desired.
  2. Copy the student list assigned to a particular room and create a blank slide.
  3. Paste the list into the blank slide. Teachers can also edit student lists at this stage, if desired.
  4. Go into Google Meet and start a new meeting.
  5. Copy the URL of the link to the new meeting.
  6. Open the Google Slide with your breakout rooms, click on "Click to Join," select "Edit," and paste in the meeting link.
  7. Repeat these steps for each individual breakout room.

Teachers needing further help with the technical details of this workaround may refer to this thorough guide.

Record a Meeting for Students to Review Later

Students can refer back to recorded meetings after class to recap lessons and/or prepare for tests and exams. Teachers can take advantage of this feature through these straightforward steps:

  1. Open a new meeting, go into the meeting screen, and find the three-dot icon.
  2. Click on the icon.
  3. Select "Record Meeting."

This configures the meeting so the video automatically saves to Google Drive. Until September 30, 2020, Google offers the Record Meeting feature free of charge. After that date, teachers must obtain a G Suite Enterprise license to continue using the feature, unless Google decides to extend free access.


Google's Training Resources

For more tips on how to teach online classes with Google Meet, and for further assistance, try these resources:


How to Teach Online Classes Using Microsoft Teams

Launched globally in March 2017, Microsoft Teams gives teachers and students free access to a powerful collaborative-learning platform. Educators need only enter a valid school email address to get started with the software. Microsoft Teams also offers compatibility with desktop computers, iOS and Android devices, laptops, and tablets.

Microsoft Teams earned accolades for its user-friendly access to a complete toolset and excellent chat features. Complaints generally focus on the platform's inefficient consumption of storage space and limited flexibility.

Feature Y/N Notes
Integrated Calendar Scheduling Requires Microsoft Outlook for seamless compatibility
Personal Meeting Rooms
Wait Rooms Available through "Lobby" setting
Password-Protected Rooms As a workaround, teachers can configure meetings to direct new participants to the "Lobby" for manual admission or denial of entry
Ability to Lock the Room Available through the "Teams Admin Center" feature
Co-Host Ability Meeting creators must specify a co-host when setting a new meeting, which gives the co-host moderator permissions in the creator's absence
Specialized Host Powers Microsoft Teams allows creators to designate themselves or others to various roles with different administrative and moderation powers
Automatic Attendance Available via the Attendance app on the Teams for Education platform
Recording
Private Chats
Group Chats Launch group chats by adding individual participants to private chats
Chat Logs Microsoft Teams retains chat logs and makes them available for subsequent viewing for up to 30 days
Transcription Available through the "Teams Admin Center" feature
Mute All Control
Video Mute Control Administrators can mute the video feeds of incoming meeting participants
Screenshare
Whiteboard Available via the Microsoft Whiteboard app extension
Breakout Rooms
Reactions Basic emojis available
Polls or Quizzes Teachers can use an extended poll format to create a multi-question quiz
Custom Backgrounds Options available here

Users can also download backgrounds of their choice to their devices, then import them to Microsoft Teams
View Options Main options include Gallery View and Speaker View

Techy Tips

Create a New Meeting

Teachers can easily set meetings for specific dates and times in Microsoft Teams. First, open Teams and go to Calendar to access a schedule. Set the date and time, create a title and description for the meeting, and manually add participants. The Teams platform can auto-fill participant fields to save users some time.

After adding all intended participants, teachers can send meeting invitations to everyone on a list with a single click. They must enable their microphones and cameras before each meeting starts for students to arrive in a ready-to-go virtual classroom.

Collaborate on a Whiteboard

Educators use interactive whiteboards to illustrate concepts and engage students in online learning, and Microsoft Teams supports this feature. First, meeting creators need to download and install the Microsoft Whiteboard app.

With the Whiteboard app installed, teachers simply need to follow these steps:

  1. Go to the central console window in an active Microsoft Teams session.
  2. Click the down arrow.
  3. Choose Microsoft Whiteboard from the list and launch it.

Teachers can also give students access to the whiteboard, allowing authorized meeting participants to annotate it in real time.

Record a Microsoft Teams Session

The Record feature saves all video, audio, and screen-sharing that takes place during a session. Simply start or join an active meeting, then:

  1. Go to Meeting Controls > More Options > Start Recording
  2. All users should see a notification indicating active recording of the session.
  3. End by going to Meeting Controls > More Options > Stop Recording

Teams automatically sends the captured session to Microsoft Stream, and meeting administrators get an email notification when the session becomes available. Teachers may then share out the session link with students.

Use OneNote Class Notebooks to Distribute Materials to Students, Parents, and Colleagues

OneNote Class Notebooks offers an easy, convenient way to share documents and visual materials with students, other teachers and staff members, and parents. Microsoft Teams supports OneNote, and teachers can use it by following these steps:

  1. With the session's general channel window open, find the Class Notebook option at the top of the screen.
  2. Add new pages or edit existing pages as necessary using the menu features running down the left-hand side of the Class Notebook page.
  3. The OneNote Class Notebook automatically syncs to the Microsoft Teams session.

Teachers may also share the OneNote Class Notebook files they create with other people by manually adding them to their access lists.

Use Grade Sync to Score Tests and Assignments

This handy feature requires a compatible piece of student information systems (SIS) software. PowerSchool represents one popular SIS platform, but teachers can also choose from many other options.

With a supported SIS in place, teachers can then use the GradeSync feature in Microsoft Teams to create grade definitions and rubrics. This synchronizes Teams with the supported SIS, enabling Teams to automatically mark and record grades.


Microsoft's Training Resources

Microsoft offers extensive resources to teachers seeking to improve their familiarity and proficiency with the Teams platform:


Resources for Other Video Conferencing Platforms

While Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams continue to gain widespread popularity during COVID-19 school shutdowns, educators also have many other valid, capable platforms available to them, like Skype. GoToMeeting, Webex, and Blackboard Connect.

Microsoft's Skype platform supports a long list of free education applications, making it a viable option for budget-conscious school boards. GoToMeeting supports sessions for up to 250 people and offers specialized versions of their software for teachers and educators.

Cisco's Webex represents another powerful alternative. Teachers using other platforms can switch to Webex or learn more about its virtual classroom features and capabilities. Blackboard enjoys robust adoption rates in higher education settings, but the platform also offers feature-rich, specialized K-12 versions.

No matter what software you're using, Parker recommends making your workspace as comfortable as possible -- especially because many teachers report feeling like they're working 24/7 once their homes become their classrooms. "A comfortable place is key," Parker said. "Choose a quiet place with a door, so that when the workday is done, you can close the door and leave work."

Best Practices for Online Teaching

Teachers spend years honing their classroom management and instructional proficiencies, and many tried-and-true strategies, techniques, and approaches still apply to the virtual classroom. However, online teaching also presents unique challenges and considerations, so adding some specialized remote-learning tips to your toolbox can assist in a smooth, productive transition.

As Parker noted:

"I think one of the greatest challenges that I have faced with all-remote teaching is Zoom fatigue -- looking at a computer screen all day. Because of this, I think that it is important to take breaks to get up and move and do something non-screen related."

Consider the following online teaching ideas and remote learning tips to help you keep your lessons fresh and energetic as the day goes on:

Simplify Your Curriculum

Review your curriculum, identify critical skills and concepts, and prioritize them in lessons. A simplified approach helps learners succeed, and it also helps create and maintain engagement.

Use Media-Rich Platform Features to Your Advantage

Music, animations, and video can all enhance the online learning experience, and they help keep learners focused on the session when moving between lessons or subjects.

Mix Your Learning Formats

Help keep boredom at bay by mixing up learning and lesson formats. Include games and challenges to keep learning fun, especially later in the day.

Make Learning Resources Readily Available

Use live hyperlinks to keep learners active during classroom sessions. Make sure teaching resources introduced in lessons remain accessible to students outside of class so they can easily revisit class content.

Show Your Face

Some teachers overuse slides, graphics, images, videos, and whiteboards. Remember: Showing your face has a subtle but powerful psychological effect, keeping students connected to you and their peers.

Reteach Concepts that Failed to Land

Pay attention to academic performance and evaluated learning assessments. If a large number of students seemed not to grasp a particular lesson, reteach it using a different format or strategy.

Parker also suggested methods of assessing students in Zoom breakout rooms: "When you use Zoom breakout rooms, drop in on mute and your camera off as a means of assessment," she said. "If students 'see' and 'hear' the teacher drop in, it disrupts their discussion. Turn your camera and sound off, which will allow you to better assess the students."

The subsections below offer additional, level-specific online teaching tips for elementary, middle school, high school, and postsecondary instructors.

Online Teaching Strategies for Elementary School

Teachers must set expectations while appreciating that every student's personal circumstances and situation pose unique challenges. As Parker noted, "I think that teachers must be flexible and accept students where they are, as they would in a face-to-face classroom." This notion seems particularly applicable to elementary school teachers, as young children have unique needs when it comes to online learning.

Young children are less familiar with normal school routines, and students in lower grades largely depend on adults. This creates challenges for teachers, but it also offers opportunities for professional growth and development.

These remote-learning tips for elementary school students can help:

  • Create an Organized, Self-Contained Virtual Classroom. Setting aside the corner of a room and turning it into a bright, colorful virtual classroom with all your materials at hand goes a long way toward building a much-needed sense of familiarity and continuity from day to day.
  • Encourage Students to Use Gestures. With young children, an online learning platform's "mute all" feature becomes a necessity rather than a luxury. Instead of enabling their microphones, encourage students to communicate visually using simple gestures like nodding, shaking their heads, and giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
  • Break Assignments Down. In online learning environments, children tend to fare better when educators break tasks and assignments down into small, manageable bits. Keep tasks short and instructions succinct and clear.
  • Positive Reinforcement. Give all students regular feedback in the form of encouragement and positive reinforcement. This helps them build up confidence in the virtual environment, especially during the early phases of a school term or semester.
  • Make Learning Fun. Use techniques like songs, rhymes, and games to help kids be kids while they learn.
  • Stick to a Regular Schedule. Children in elementary grades thrive with predictable and regular learning and activity schedules. Apply this concept in the online teaching environment.

Tips for Teaching Middle School Remotely

Beyond managing attendance, Parker cited student engagement as one of the most difficult and pervasive obstacles of online teaching. Middle school students often face more complex social pressures than their elementary counterparts, and adolescence triggers profound physical and mental changes. These factors can translate into classroom management challenges, which educators can meet by:

  • Paying Attention to the Students. Making sure students feel heard, seen, and valued will go a long way toward securing their ongoing cooperation. The more you can do to make them feel "seen through the screen," the better.
  • One-on-One Meetings With Students. According to Parker, "One-on-one interactions help support relationship-building with students, which will help motivate them to come to class and be engaged."
  • Creating Interactive Lessons and Assignments. Planning lessons and assignments that make students active agents in their own learning keeps them busy and occupied for longer periods.
  • Prioritizing Individualized "Touchpoints." Personal interactions between teachers and students represent a key way to build a healthy and supportive middle school environment, and the virtual classroom makes these difficult to replicate. Try replacing them with substitute touchpoints like personal emails, messages, or voice calls.
  • Making Time to Step Away. Middle school students need regular breaks from the virtual classroom, and so do their teachers. During lunch hour or another scheduled break time, clear your head and revitalize your energy by getting outside for a walk around the block and some fresh air.

Finally, take heart in Parker's experience-based observation: "I think one of my biggest surprises was that many students actually enjoy online learning." Middle school has a reputation for being hard on teachers, but preparedness and creativity can make it much easier and far more enjoyable for everyone.

Remote Teaching Ideas for High School

High school students typically have more maturity and longer attention spans than their elementary and middle school counterparts. Still, educators need to pay careful attention to how they engage their learners, especially during the high-stress upper years, when students prepare for standardized tests and college applications.

These remote-learning strategies and online teaching tips translate well to high school classes:

  • Use Multimedia Resources. Open-access multimedia resources offer novel ways to explore and reinforce new and advanced concepts. Integrate TED talks, snippets from expert lectures, and other entertaining and informative media samples. Keep in mind that many high school students struggle to stay engaged with online media resources that run longer than 15 minutes. In such cases, consider pulling crucial excerpts from multiple sources, weaving those concepts together with short instructional lectures.
  • Vary Assignments to Accommodate Different Learning Styles. When teaching new groups of students, educators must make quick, accurate assessments of each student's learning style. Early on, create varied assignments that appeal to different learning styles to see who fits where. Adjust your pedagogical plans accordingly.
  • Make Yourself Available for After-Hours Consultations. Make sure your students know they can contact you outside of class with the same types of questions or concerns they might present during after-school consultations or office hours.
  • Stimulate Discussions. Group discussions offer a great way for curious young minds to explore different viewpoints, but many teachers overlook them as part of the virtual learning experience. Set aside time to ask open-ended questions about the learning materials and concepts presented in class, and allow students to offer their answers in (monitored) group chats.
  • Encourage Peer Interactions. Use breakout rooms and other group-learning features to help replicate the vital social aspects of high school, which many young people value and miss when confined to online classrooms.

Online Teaching Tips and Resources for Postsecondary Educators

Given the explosive growth in online higher education, many college professors and postsecondary educators already understand how to teach remotely. Even so, brushing up on effective techniques and best practices always helps.

One excellent piece of advice encourages educators to visualize themselves as students. Imagine an effective, immersive online learning experience, and reverse-engineer classes and lectures to create it. Pre-recording sessions can improve access and smooth out technical issues, but remember to keep your face visible from time to time.

College instructors with extensive online teaching experience also emphasize the importance of empowering student participation. Plan your student-teacher interaction strategy in advance, announce it early and often, and regularly encourage learners to engage with it.

Many successful instructors also encourage first-timers to take online classes before designing their own. This helps them hit the ground running, informed by the successes and shortcomings of their personal experiences as students.

Finally, take advantage of these remote-earning tips and online teaching resources for postsecondary instructors:

Online Education as a Student Teacher

Student teachers face extra challenges in the COVID-19 educational landscape. Many colleges have moved their classes online, forcing teaching candidates to adapt to both virtual learning and virtual teaching simultaneously.

Many student-teachers have moved away from functioning as a supplementary classroom presence, now embracing roles in lesson-planning and technical support. Since most current student-teachers grew up as digital natives, they can be a vital resource for educators with lower levels of tech literacy.

To explore additional remote-learning tips for student-teachers, check out our special online education guide for emerging educators:

A Student Teacher's Guide to Online Education

Applying Remote Learning Tips to Your Classroom

COVID-19 has forced dramatic changes to education, but it has also inspired a great deal of innovation and creativity. By integrating and applying remote-learning tips specific to student grade levels, teachers can deliver valuable, positive learning experiences, promoting much-needed stability and optimism during these uncertain times.

Finally, keep Parker's uplifting observation in mind:

"Take it one day at a time. This is a time for flexible rigor. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and we need to have expectations, but [understand] that everyone's situation is uniquely challenging. We must be kind to one another."

Teaching Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you need for remote learning?

Distance learning experts recommend setting up a learning station with a comfortable chair, an ergonomic computer and desk configuration, and noise-canceling headphones, if available. Reliable broadband internet access is another must-have.

What makes a good online instructor?

The most effective online instructors adapt their teaching styles to virtual environments with short, focused bursts of educational content supplemented with integrated multimedia. An active, engaging visual presence also helps, as does ongoing availability outside regular classroom hours.

How can I make online teaching interesting?

This depends on the grade level, but in general, successful online teachers vary their learning formats and activities and encourage student-teacher interactions. Experts also stress the benefits of zeroing in on crucial concepts with highly targeted instruction emphasizing the most important topics.

How can online teaching be effective?

Many teachers new to the virtual classroom find that transparency with students about the novelty of the experience can effectively build trust and engagement. Open yourself up for feedback, and remain willing to adjust your approach based on suggestions and constructive criticism.

What is good about remote learning?

One of the most critical advantages of online learning derives from its ability to store lectures and classes for later retrieval. This makes it easy for students to return to material and concepts they struggled with or found particularly interesting, both of which support higher levels of academic achievement.

Additional Online Resources for Teachers

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