For full-time distance education students, recent events have brought almost zero changes to their learning process. However, for the majority, school closures caused quite a shock and a big disruption in their routine.
Students are primarily used to learning in a classroom, even if schools use technology on a regular basis as a blended approach to education. When learning activities are suddenly and completely switched online, students can experience feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, not knowing what to do and where to start, and how to approach learning from a distance.
This puts a lot of pressure on teachers to make up for the lost instruction time and to deliver online learning.
While most guides focus on educators and how to make them more productive, we often forget that students could do with more help in creating good studying habits. Even in these stressful conditions, school must go on.
7 remote learning tips your students should know
We all need to look no further than full-time remote education students and what they do to succeed with online learning. To make this transition smoother, teachers might find it useful to pass this information on to their students and guide them throughout the process.
Here are the top tips that your students should know about and apply while learning remotely:
Plan a daily routine
Having a daily schedule and goals to accomplish gives students a sense of security and predictability. When schools close, routines go out the window. This is a catch-22, as now more than ever, students need a daily routine for their own wellbeing.
For many, the first instinct will be to treat it as an extended staycation. Younger students don’t have the ability to effectively manage their time and even high schoolers need a little extra motivation to do their homework. That’s why teachers should guide students and parents to create a schedule for learning, playtime and rest.
If they need more help, you can suggest a timetable that they can change according to their needs. Having a shared class calendar is great for this purpose. Students will know exactly when assignments are due, when to join video calls or classroom discussions and generally how to keep organized.
As teachers already know, the learning environment has a huge impact on productivity and concentration. You get to control this in your classroom, but distance learning comes with a whole new set of problems.
For example, not all students have access to a quiet place to study. That’s why it’s important to help them eliminate distractions as much as possible.
Don’t have a separate room? Maybe they have some noise-canceling headphones around.
Don’t have a desk? The kitchen table can be a makeshift study desk for a few hours each day.
There’s also the problem of online distractions. As distance learning students know, without some help, they’d probably spend way too much time online. Luckily, there are plenty of online tools available that keep track of one’s online activity and help students stay focused for a longer period of time.
It’s good to introduce new tools one at a time. If your school already uses a central hub for everything, such as an LMS, it’s easy for students to log in and start learning. However, if you want them to use additional apps or want to start with a new LMS, they need more precise instructions.
Luckily, all edtech vendors create guides and help centers for their products, so you don’t have to look somewhere else. If you still feel that students need more guidance, you can create short videos to explain how to enroll in classes, where to find lessons, how to use the collaboration tools, how to access online assignments, how to see their grades, etc.
The bottom line is: try to focus on a few effective tools that students preferably already know how to use and don’t overwhelm them. This also helps you stay on top of it all.
We all need a few productivity tips these days. Students make no exceptions. Committing to a schedule is just the beginning, as it matters what they do with that time. Passive study methods such as highlighting text or rote memorization are all but effective.
You can help students with making their own flashcards, practice spaced repetition, distribute their learning throughout the day to avoid burnout, and by hosting Q&A sessions in which they can interact with peers in order to further discuss what they’ve learned.
If anything else fails, you can suggest the Pomodoro technique to students and parents. This nifty time management method breaks study sessions into 25-minute chunks, with 5 minute breaks in between, which helps them concentrate on what they have to do. This website is what I personally use to organize my time, but you can find apps and other online tools.
Online learning might be intimidating for some students since there’s a perceived lack of feedback for their work. They are used to interacting with teachers and peers in order to understand a concept or solve a problem.
You should be aware of this issue from the beginning and explain how students can get that support in the online environment. Make it clear that they will receive feedback for their work through personalized comments on assignments, one-on-one video conferences, practice quizzes that automatically show the correct answers, etc. Now it might even be a good time to explore how to give feedback through voice messages, for example.
There’s also the option of setting up a buddy system in which students collaborate in a smaller group to discuss what they have learned.
Don’t assume that your students will know exactly what to do, especially when online collaboration is a new experience for them. As rewarding as it may be, collaboration is challenging and teachers should give clear instructions on how to complete assignments together, where they can find a discussion forum, the chat tool or how to send a private message to a teacher if they need to do so.
If you choose to use web conferencing, that is great. Just remember that there should be some ground rules such as:
- waiting for your turn to speak,
- listening to one another
- how to ask relevant questions.
If they want to catch up with one another, schedule 10 minutes of “break” in which they get to talk freely before returning to your lesson. Otherwise, a web conferencing session could turn into chaos pretty quickly…
Ask for help
Encourage students to ask for help whenever they encounter a hurdle in their learning process. At the same time, make it clear when students should expect an answer.
This is a gentle reminder that your time matters, and you’re not doing yourself or your students a favor if you’re answering emails at midnight. Your inbox might already be flooded with emails from parents or students, which just adds to the stress without making the process of transitioning online any easier.
Try to find an alternative way of communication, in which they can all read important announcements. For example, your learning management system (LMS) might have a “Welcome page” option in which you can add FAQs about the classes you’re teaching.
Otherwise, there’s also the option to create a group and all the members receive notifications as soon as you post them. However, if this is still not a viable option, set up a discussion forum in which they can add questions, you add the answers, and then everybody else will be able to find what they need to know without asking you personally.
Put together a remote learning guide and discuss it with students. Ask them what they would need in order to learn better at home. In fact, students could add to the conversation and come up with their own ideas on how to make this transition to online learning easier.
And while this situation won’t last forever, they might end up learning a lesson or two about good studying habits and online collaboration.
Ioana believes that education in action is the only way to change the world. When she is not writing about learning and ed tech, she can usually be seen reading a book and drinking lots of coffee.