Distant Learning for Educational Institutions
Through this turbulent and uncertain time, teachers and workers within the education sector are forced to look at alternative ways they can continue to educate students. Equally, students need easy, engaging and accessible ways to learn from home.
In the following blog we’ll go through the numerous ways you can bring the classroom and full learning experience to your students with our top six tips for distant learning. We’ll also share with you an extensive list of free online learning resources and courses, as well as the technologies that can enable you to teach remotely.
Distant learning tips for teachers
1. Have the right technology
Before you’re able to embark on distant learning, it’s important to ensure you and your students have the right technology. This includes a good internet connection and a computer or laptop. Online tools and resources can also help you and your students make online distant learning more interesting and interactive. Not all homes have a printer and therefore it’s a good idea to distribute material that can also be edited online, as well as on paper.
2. Plan your lesson using online resources or printable handouts for students
Planning your lessons for distance learning may be slightly different to a normal day in the classroom. As mentioned above, there are many websites (listed further down in the blog) that provide interactive elements and fun content that keeps your students engaged. By utilising these websites and resources in your lesson plans, you can feel reassured that your students are engaging with varied materials that can help them learn in these conditions and circumstances.
3. Communicate with parents to ensure the student has what they need to access everything
It’s important to know whether your students have the right technology to be able to access the materials and resources you’ll be providing them for your virtual lessons. If they don’t have the right equipment or they are unable to borrow any from the school, it may be that you provide a slightly modified lesson plan version for that student.
4. Regularly communicate with your students and let them know they can contact you
To support the students throughout this time, it’s important to make them aware that they can still contact you if they have any questions or need support for a specific task. The best way to do this is if you regularly communicate with them via Microsoft Teams or other communication platforms.
5. Record lessons and tasks and send them to your students
To attempt to keep some form on normality, why not record lessons or tasks and then send them to your students to watch or complete. This can be a lot more engaging than just sending them worksheets or written instructions. You can also ask your students to engage with you by sending you videos of them completed the challenges or doing tasks.
6. Video and voice call your entire class with Microsoft Teams
With Microsoft Teams, you can do a video conference with your entire class. Your students don’t even need to download Microsoft Teams, just set up a meeting with their email address and they’ll get sent a link for them to join the meeting. This is a great way to start each day so you can outline what you’d like them to do for the day and explain any tasks.
Technology that enables distant learning
Both Adobe and Microsoft offer several tools that enable you to provide distant learning to your students. Just because you may not be in the same room as your students, doesn’t mean you can’t provide a high-quality education through technology.
Adobe have created a free distance learning website that offers courses for teachers, projects for students and general resources to help you teach virtually. You can find the Adobe Distance Learning website here.
Adobe have also put together a series of 200 word challenges that teachers can send out and assess digitally.
All UK GCSE Language boards require students to complete a piece of non-fiction writing. AQA even stated in their examiner report this last year that ‘what characterised the best of these responses was the ability to engage with the ‘big ideas’: politics, economics, gender, aesthetics, class, morality, psychology and even philosophy. Students who were confident with these ideas were able to frame their own perspectives in this larger context and thereby enhance the quality of their argument.’ Below is a list of the various topics for students to write about:
- Air Travel
- Plastic Pollution
- Parking the Car
- Renewable Energy
- Cycle Helmets
- Healthy Lifestyle
- Vegan Diets
- Secret Smoking
Adobe are also offering Higher Education and K-12 customers who have device-based licences, temporary “at home” access (Named User licence) for students and staff. In addition to this, you’ll also be granted a 90-day free trial for Adobe connect for web conferencing.
Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and a Windows Virtual Desktop can all make it easy to communicate with your students, access your files and keep things rolling. Microsoft have also extended several of their offers to help educational institutions manage and excel during this challenging time.
Microsoft are offering a free version of Office 365 A1 to all educational institutions. This version provides unlimited chat, built-in group and one-on-one audio or video calling, 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage per user. You also get real-time collaboration with the Office apps for web, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. There are also no restrictions for the number of users, therefore your entire classroom, school or university can benefit from this.
Microsoft Teams is an incredibly useful tool for any school or educational institution as you can chat, video or voice call your students, send files and more. You can now download a free version of Microsoft Teams for your school and students. This version provides unlimited chat, built-in group and one-on-one audio or video calling, 10 GB of team file storage, and 2 GB of personal file storage per user. Read our blog post of working remotely with Microsoft Teams for more help, tips and tricks.
Windows Virtual Desktop can enable your workforce to securely access all their information remotely, on any device. Using Azure cloud technology to securely hold your organisations data, rather than keeping it on premise – allowing your teachers and education workers to pick up where they left off from any computer. You can find out more about Windows Virtual Desktop on the Microsoft website or by downloading our infographic.
If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft’s offering or you’re hesitant in introducing a new software – Microsoft have a range of training resources available at no additional cost. Microsoft Learn is a free, online training platform that provides interactive learning for Microsoft products. It includes fun, guided, hands-on, interactive content that’s specific to your role and goals. Alternatively, feel free to contact the Phoenix Team for more information.