Updated: Mar 29, 2022
With the pandemic bringing rise to a new normal, the popularization of virtual learning has opened a threshold for education that our elementary school teachers could have only dreamt of. Despite a universal return to in-person classes, concerns of the Delta Variant, along with understanding the benefits of remote learning, have guaranteed that virtual classrooms are not going anywhere anytime soon.
Through the use of video conferencing and virtual collaboration tools, remote learning has never been more accessible. Regardless, this gradual transition to virtual learning has, and is, posing many challenges to educators. In this article, we will be sharing with you four different ways to enhance remote learning and utilize EdTech tools that traditional education doesn’t offer.
Students’ major obstacle in transitioning from in-person to remote learning is their forced adjustment to new learning styles. There are four main styles of learning: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. Kinesthetic and tactile learning have many limitations with virtual learning, while auditory learning functions the same virtually as it would in person. On the other hand, visual learning has a great deal of potential change for video conferencing and virtual collaboration technologies.
In-person visuals can include different pictures, props, or puppets. For virtual learning, however, screen visuals can prove to be eye-catching for easily distracted students.
One example of this, offered by most video conferencing tools, is the option to change the background of your screen. This feature can set the right precedent for the type of classroom atmosphere you are hoping to create, whether that be an office background for a professional setting or a tropical background for a more casual setting. Screen backgrounds can also be used for specific lessons, giving students the experience of a pseudo-virtual field trip. Have the Pyramids behind you during a class on the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, the Great Wall of China for a lecture on the Qin Dynasty, or Machu Picchu to relay the conquest of Francisco Pizarro over the Incan Empire.
As a more specific type of visual, the ability for a teacher to use fun and creative face-filters is one advantage that video conferencing has over in-person learning. These filters can often help overcome the challenge that many educators have trying to garner the attention of their younger students via computer screens. Instructors integrated this feature into kid’s classes, and the filters never fail to merit a good response. When learning the names of different types of animals in English, younger students go ecstatic when their teacher is transformed from a human to a tiger to a monkey. This feature may also serve lessons of different subjects for older students, with participants changing into Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, or Albert Einstein.
Interactive Learning Games
As most educators are aware, a little healthy competition can go a long way. Gamification is one of the most effective strategic attempts to motivate learners. 80% of learners claim game-oriented lessons would be more effective, and 67% believe gamified courses are more engaging than traditional ones. As for the switch from classroom games to virtual games, this transition already occurred in the 1990s when the popularity of video games began to surpass board games. With most children being proficient in video games, incorporating video or computer games into a lesson plan can make a huge difference. One good virtual classroom game is Virtual Pictionary, where students are taken into video conferencing break-out rooms and use collaboration documents to draw. Another good game to play is Ambassadors, where students act as ambassadors for different countries, and classmates must guess which ones. For any game, regardless of the subject, teachers can never go wrong with online trivia games, where teachers create questions relevant to their course material and put them in the trivia games. Some of the best educational online trivia games include Kahoot, Jeopardy, and Gimkit.
Similar to gamification, microlearning is another useful educational strategy, particularly among students with short attention spans. While microlearning has no official definition, all microlearning-based training shares one key component: brevity. Essentially, every form of learning outside of a classroom lesson plan could fall under the “microlearning category,” such as taking a quiz, watching a short video, reading an essay, or even looking at a picture.
With an increasing dependence on cellphones, these devices can prove to be the ideal microlearning tool for remote learning. Most popular microlearning platforms resemble a cross between Twitter and Instagram, but for education. Teachers can utilize these different apps for students to use whenever the students have some downtime. Some popular microlearning apps include Quizlet, with flashcards of almost any subject you can think of, Duolingo, to learn a new language, or TedEd, providing short videos for any educational topic. With these microlearning apps, the virtual combination of microlearning and gamification has never been more accessible.
Recordings of Lessons
As many former students will tell you, video recorded lectures may have provided a more lucrative educational experience than many in-person lectures from their College or University professors. For example, instead of having to interrupt the class if a professor was explaining a concept too quickly (if we even had time for that), students would be able to pause, rewind, and replay the video until they understood the concept at their speed. Additionally, pre-recorded options expand students’ class schedules, no longer restricted by time.
An added feature that pre-recorded classes can also provide is an auto-transcription of the lesson. Note-taking is vital in learning, and with an auto-transcription, students will be able to sift through the transcription, and take more thorough notes, and greatly improve their process of reviewing class notes. Speech-to-text technologies can transcribe the lecture while allowing each student to highlight which sections they deem most important or most difficult.
Through the continued use and development of EdTech tools, virtual learning, at least for collegiate-level lecture courses, could someday surpass the utility of in-person education. The transition from in-person to remote learning or blended learning has never been easy, especially for younger students. Regardless, as the EdTech field grows to supply a growing demand, the future of remote learning offers nothing but an improvement to the education sector.