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

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:

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.

For more information on how Adobe are helping the education sector overcome the challenges associated with COVID-19, click here.

If you’d like to request temporary access to Creative Cloud desktop apps, click here.

For help on how to enable your students to access Creative Cloud during any campus closures, click here.

For FAQs on the VIP renewal grace period, click here. 

Microsoft

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.

Online learning resources for teachers

Below is a list of online educational resource websites that can help teachers plan their lessons.

Khan Academy – especially good for maths and computing for all ages. Other subjects are also offered at Secondary level. Note this uses the U.S. grade system but it’s mostly common material.

BBC Learning – unfortunately this site is no longer updated, yet there’s so much still available, from language learning to BBC Bitesize for revision. No TV licence required except for content on BBC iPlayer.

BBC Bitesize – plenty of online resources and videos for all age groups and subjects.

Futurelearn – free to access 100s of courses, only pay to upgrade if you need a certificate in your name (own account from age 14+ but younger learners can use a parent account).

Seneca – for those revising at GCSE or A level. Tons of free revision content. Paid access to higher level material.

Openlearn – free taster courses aimed at those considering Open University but everyone can access it. Adult level, but some  nature and environment courses could well be of interest to young people.

Blockly – learn computer programming skills – fun and free.

Scratch – creative computer programming

Ted Ed – all sorts of engaging educational videos

National Geographic Kids – activities and quizzes for younger kids.

Duolingo – learn languages for free. Web or app.

Mystery Science – free science lessons

The Kids Should See This – wide range of cool educational videos

Crash Course – YouTube videos on many subjects

Crash Course Kids – YouTube videos on many subjects, but for a younger audience

Crest Awards – science awards you can complete from home.

iDEA Awards – digital enterprise award scheme you can complete online.

Paw Print Badges – free challenge packs and other downloads. Many activities can be completed indoors. Badges cost but are optional.

Tinkercad – all kinds of making.

Prodigy Maths – is in U.S. grades, but good for UK Primary age.

Cbeebies Radio – listening activities for the younger ones.

Nature Detectives – a lot of these can be done in a garden, or if you can get to a remote forest location!

British Council – resources for English language learning.

Oxford Owl for Home – lots of free resources for Primary age.

Big History Project – aimed at Secondary age. Multi-disciplinary activities.

Geography Games – geography gaming!

The Artful Parent – good, free art activities

Red Ted Art – easy arts and crafts for little ones

The Imagination Tree – creative art and craft activities for the very youngest.

Toy Theater – educational online games

DK Find Out – activities and quizzes

Twinkl – this is more for printouts, and usually at a fee, but they are offering a month of free access to parents in the event of school closures.

How can Phoenix help?

If you have any questions or require any help implementing these technologies within your organisation, please do not hesitate to get in touch using the form below or by emailing us at hello@phoenixs.co.uk. You can also read our Corona Virus statement to learn how you can still get continuous support from Phoenix.