Essential Tools To Use For Online Learning

The sudden transition to a home-based learning environment has certainly left many teachers and educators, not to mention, students, ill-prepared to face the various challenges that come with remote learning.

From a lack of Internet access to finding the proper “equipment” to overcome the digital boundaries of online teaching, here are some essential tools you’ll need to use for online learning.

Tools For Remote Teaching And Communication Tools

Familiarizing yourself with how a tool or platform works is almost as important as selecting the correct tools. In this case, there are plenty of tools (paid or free) that you may utilise for remote teaching. For instance, Remind is an online messaging platform that offers a tighter focus on the school-to-home transition. Plus, the app is also well-designed and highly effective when it comes to communication. Speaking of communication, TalkingPoints is another multilingual texting tool used to facilitate engagement with students and families in more than 100 languages.

Likewise, if you’re a teacher that needs to have a face-to-face conversation with your students, there is a myriad of tools available at your disposal such as in-demand tools like Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, or Google Meet. As a teacher, you should first explore each tool that we’ve mentioned and learn the ways to maximise its utility so that your students may have a better learning environment. Here are some tips for a better teaching experience with these tools:  

  • Create an agenda or lesson plan for each online class. Share this plan with the students prior to the class.
  • Clearly lay out online etiquette that the students should always follow during class. They should still adhere to basic school rules even while at home as this is still a classroom.
  • Have all microphones muted, except for the speaking person. This would help to reduce external noises and distractions.
  • Anyone who needs to talk may make a gesture to signal to the speaker that they want to say something without interrupting them.
  • When you deliver a presentation or share an image, document or file, do give the students some time to take down notes. Alternatively, you could supply the students with the file after the lesson.

Online Whiteboard Tools

What teacher doesn’t need a whiteboard? And in the case of home learning, a whiteboard is even more essential as the students may be easily distracted (maybe playing some games on the down-low) during a lesson. In particular online whiteboards of the digital variety will help to emulate the classroom experience with the student — which is certainly sorely missed. Most of these tools offer an infinite canvas (without the need to keep replacing your markers) for creating different types of teaching materials such as diagrams, charts, graphs, and so on.

Specifically, we would recommend Creately as it is a tool that is widely used by educators for various purposes. It is used as a collaborative online whiteboard where teachers and students may use the same canvas to visualise ideas, concepts, etc. Also, the built-in video conferencing feature, as well as the change tracker allows for seamless connection between the students and teachers.

Creately also allows you to create a variety of diagrams and visual aids like dichotomous key diagrams, graphic organizers, lesson plans, etc. that are needed for presentations, lessons, and assignments.

Tools For Work/Lesson Planning

Maintaining a consistent workflow is even more vital now that you are working/studying from home. A solid routine should be able to help you to maximise the use of your and your student’s time. This is where time management and scheduling apps like Google Calendar and Calendly comes in.

Just some of the things that you can do using these apps include:

  • Creating specific schedules for your online classes or for personal use.
  • Creating schedules and timetables to keep everyone involved notified of important dates and times.
  • Offers a way to schedule appointments with parents and students, while also avoiding double-booking issues.
  • Creating lesson plans and being able to share them with the students, parents,  administrators, and colleagues

Alternative Tools To Consider: Common Curriculum, Planboard  

Online Homework Tools

Now that everyone is staying home, for the most part, managing your student’s homework is something that has become a challenge as you aren’t able to physically check on them.

For seamless homework integration into the study-from-home, a combination of the following tools would work best.

  • Google Docs: For essays and written assignments.
  • Zoom, Skype, or other video conferencing tools: For verbal assignments and live presentations.
  • Loom, YouTube, Prezi, Google Slides: For video presentations.
  • Google Classroom: To distribute assignments, grades, and send feedback.

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