Maximizing Learning in a Virtual Environment

Maximizing Learning in a Virtual Environment

Published on: November 16th, 2020 in 360pd blog

A big challenge of remote learning is making the most of every minute of learning time. This post describes tools and best practices can help you build an engaging hybrid learning environment.

This post complements material presented at a LACUECares educator development event held on November 3, 2020. You can find recordings of all event sessions here.

Our goal is to provide you with information that’s useful, engaging, and easy to use. We welcome your comments or examples. To share your knowledge and experience, contact us today.

Master the Mix in Lesson Planning

Recognizing the types of support that are present in different types of learning makes it easier to provide the help that can improve learning outcomes. A good example is finding the best mix of live and virtual learning tools to use in lesson plans.

When you learn to recognize the role of different types of content and learning used in your lessons, you’ll be able to:

  • Customize the learning mix of each lesson.
  • Decide which parts of the lesson are better delivered live or via a student-paced format.
  • Make lessons more effective and efficient by deciding which tools and methods will help you set up lesson plans.

Learn to pivot from teacher-led to student-paced learning and back to keep students engaged during live teaching sessions. This infographic shows when and how you can navigate between these methods.

And finally, here’s a secret weapon, which you can add to your hybrid learning toolkit.

Review, Rethink, and Recycle Learning Materials

One of the best ways to enrich your hybrid learning environment is to add familiar materials to your lesson plan. If your school has few digital materials to work with, no worries. There are many accessible, easy-to-use software tools and methods that can help you convert textbooks or other paper-based content into engaging digital teaching materials.

Content recycling is your friend

There are many ways to redesign, reorganize, and reuse content that you gather from various sources. But first, take a moment to review the learning materials you have and rethink how you can give them a role in your remote learning lesson plans.

To get the best mileage from content reuse, remember that your students have communications tools such as Facetime, Skype, and Zoom, which can help them collaborate, share classroom supplies, and engage in face-to-face experiments.

when to use synchronous and asynchronous learning graphic

Infographic on synchronous and asynchronous learning (source: Concordia University https://www.concordia.ca/ctl/digital-teaching/synchronous-asynchronous.html)

 Here’s a table brimming with ideas for content remodeling.

source: Louisiana Believes

In place of… Try this…
hands-on manipulatives from a common bin during instruction Individual bags containing basic math manipulatives for each student to use in class and at home, virtual manipulatives, or live or recorded demonstrations by a teacher.
working together with classmates on a shared piece of paper (problem set, peer editing a writing sample) Offer feedback to a writing partner on Google classroom or show work for math problems and annotate on a pdf using Kami.
partner reading in person in close proximity Assign your students buddy reading partners each week and have them call, Facetime, or Skype with a classmate. Students can read to each other or discuss a text that both of the students have read.
face-to-face laboratory experiments Engage students in virtual labs and simulations, perform an investigation with readily available materials at home, or view a teacher-made video of an investigation. This OpenSciEd Distance Learning lesson has examples of two different approaches to investigations in a distance learning model.
a physical anchor chart A virtual shared “board” created using a tool such as Google Drawing, Google Jamboard, or Padlet
small group instruction or teacher conferencing in close physical proximity Zoom breakout rooms, staggered virtual meetings with small groups, or dedicated virtual office hours
shared classroom supplies Use labeled bags or containers to provide space for individual students to house materials. Keep multiple sharpened pencils (or mechanical pencils) in the personal containers to eliminate the need for a shared pencil sharpener.

Have you developed ways to engage your remote classroom students?
If so, we want to hear from you. Just contact us:

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