NEW YORK (Booth Too) — August 2018 is the time you click a little button to kickstart your higher learning online. Making the choice to learn online is a great move, but only if you really want to learn — without doing other things while doing it.
How Can Teacher Make Online Learning Better
This is a guest post by Katherine Eveleth, Interim Chief Learning Officer at BSD – ISTE, the world’s largest learning organization.
We’ve entered a brave new school era and, as part of that, we all have a new set of expectations. Whether that involves learning or teaching, it’s time to make sure everyone has access to a high-quality, engaging, and stimulating education.
We’re used to taking someone else’s homework and making it yours. And now we have computer-driven learning, with videos, apps, online games, web lessons, and even more low-cost learning tools available. Students and teachers are in control of their learning experiences, whether that’s online or offline.
Online learning is less costly than traditional ways of learning, especially given the growing trend toward teacher-assisted online learning. But we must take care that the forms and content we have to choose from never take away the point of the classroom: seeing what works with a student and then applying that learning to real-world work.
Doing Online Learning Wrong
Failing to provide student learning with the same form and substance as brick-and-mortar learning can be detrimental. When students have regular, supportive access to relevant content, it’s more likely that they will take advantage of it instead of just pining for it.
At BSD, we know that there are certain ideas and content that are too hard for students to see face-to-face. Online learning is an incredibly powerful tool to help us replicate that on a screen.
With this in mind, we’ve made an effort to incorporate student-centric digital learning, using STEM methods, with a human touch. Students can log in to a virtual planetarium, play games that engage them in scientific topics, watch recorded lectures and online video, or read student-generated content to really make sure that content is useful for them. And, of course, teachers can access a full range of tools and content to ensure each student’s learning experience is tailored to her needs.
With the right technology and pedagogy in place, students can now explore the world and get hands-on, digital experiences in STEM subjects that they didn’t have access to in the past. Meanwhile, teachers in more traditional classrooms can use the tools and content that they have at their disposal.
How to Navigate Online Learning
The single most important thing educators can do to navigate the new school environment is to own their learning. Making sure students and teachers know what’s expected of them when they go online is crucial. Even when students are unsure of what they can do on a screen, we can’t let them be a lost generation when it comes to online learning.
If a student can’t answer a question, screengrab a YouTube video of what they’ve seen and explain it, ask them a question online, use a class project to apply online content, use classroom-created content to supplement online learning, or share a recorded lecture with the class so they can explain what they learned that way. Make sure students know that when they do well, their teachers know it, and when they do poorly, their teachers get involved.
The best educators understand that teaching does not happen only in the classroom; that’s why we build infrastructures to help students learn at all times, so that they are fully capable of learning without interruption. But when it comes to using technology, teachers are also responsible for guiding and helping students navigate the available learning tools, making sure that they can work with them to learn.
Being a good teacher and successful at using technology are two different things. As we build edtech tools that truly engage students, we must get on the same page with our educators. Technology isn’t a replacement for teaching and learning. But technology can help us support our educators and make sure that all students are on the path to academic success.