As everyone spends the summer preparing for a new school year, many are preparing for virtual options to stick around post pandemic. In a recent survey conducted by Instructure, two-thirds of the educators surveyed believe remote learning will impact classroom practices in the future. But what will this future look like, exactly?
A recent survey of districts estimated 56 percent of schools will offer a remote learning option in the fall. One of the biggest lessons this past school year taught us was that educators teaching students online and in-person at the same time is typically not a successful teaching model. Moving forward, many districts offering a virtual option are planning to have virtual teachers solely with virtual students, while teachers back in their regular classrooms will only teach in-person students.
In this same survey, 89 percent of teachers said they taught online for the very first time during the pandemic. So as districts ask teachers to volunteer to switch to remote teaching, there are technology considerations to get in place this summer to help make teaching virtually this coming school year a success.
If districts did not have the means to outfit teachers at home with certain technologies, either because of lack of funds or short supply, summer is a good time to make sure teachers have what they need to teach virtually.
Below are three remote learning technologies every virtual teacher should have–and examples of why these simple tools can go a long way in a virtual classroom.
Yes, many laptops and computers come with built-in cameras, but webcams can be helpful in additional ways. When teachers have external cameras, it allows them to place it wherever they like, thus making their teaching space more flexible. In addition to flexibility, high-quality audio and video helps teachers establish a better human connection with students because they don’t have to worry about lagging sound, pixelated video, or any other technical mishaps. Finding ways to create human connection in a virtual classroom is essential because it helps teachers increase participation from students.
2. Document cameras
While teaching remotely, having a document camera makes it easier for teachers to share content with students. With a document camera and computer, teachers can share artifacts and close-ups of images with students who are learning remotely. When they’re done sharing, they can use the document camera to capture things they are doing on a whiteboard and share that with students.
Additionally, with a document camera, teachers can record lessons in advance or capture live sessions. These videos provide additional resources for students who can review the lesson out of school time in order to fully understand the material.
3. High-speed internet
One big takeaway from remote learning for the past 15 months is the need for high-speed internet. At the start of the pandemic, schools found creative ways to connect students and families by delivering hot spots to homes or repurposing school buses with Wi-Fi and driving them to communities to provide Wi-Fi access. These unique initiatives were great solutions to get everyone connected for the short term, but now as full-time virtual options continue to grow, it’ll be essential for remote teachers to have permanent solutions. Districts can partner with local internet providers to ensure their remote teachers are wired with high-speed internet and that virtual students have access to high-speed internet too.
Virtual learning is here to stay
Although the immediate switch to virtual learning was hectic and overwhelming for schools, teachers, and students, virtual learning had a positive impact on many as well. There will always be teachers who prefer an online teaching option and students who thrive with online learning.
Virtual school options will continue to increase now that more educators have been exposed to this form of teaching. As the role of virtual learning grows in education, it is important to continue to provide teachers, as well as students, with the resources they will need to succeed.
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