Step 5: Planning for the Future
Congratulations! Now that you have identified your tools, built basic courses, provided support, and incorporated assessments and feedback, you are on your way to becoming skilled in online development and instruction. The next step is to look towards the future. With so much uncertainty, it is best to be prepared. The beauty of online learning is that the methods and activities can be used whether students return to the classroom, learn from home, or experience a combination of both. In this post, we will explore how online learning can support classroom learning and steps you can take now to keep growing as an online instructor.
What Role and Benefits Can Online Learning Have in the Everyday Classroom?
Blended learning classrooms can provide an effective and engaging learning experience that allows teachers flexibility in how they present and pace material for students. A blended learning approach enables teachers to incorporate multiple methods of instruction and activities that can be tailored to different learning styles. A variety of blended learning models, including station rotation, help teachers move around the room and interact with students in small groups. Incorporating technology in one or two stations has a few benefits. Students can get instant feedback by completing interactive checks for understanding. Online assessment lessens the grading burden on teachers, makes data analysis easier, and uses standards alignments to make suggestions for grouping students according to proficiency levels. While many students experienced a reprieve from state testing, it is probably not going away for good, so seeing online questions on a regular basis in the same format as state assessments can help students perform better on high stakes tests.
Supporting your classroom instruction with online content can provide the repetition and variation some students require to gain comprehension of challenging concepts. For example, having a video to watch allows students to pause while they are taking notes or hear the lesson in a different way. Blended learning environments offer anytime, anywhere learning opportunities. Students can complete or continue classwork at home which gives parents the opportunity to see students interact with their lessons. In this new environment, have you noticed any students participating differently now that they are learning from home? Some students are more comfortable speaking up or asking questions when it is not in front of a room full of peers.
Thinking realistically, the COVID-19 crisis has forced a change in education and raised many questions about how instruction and grading should continue. It is very possible there will be another instance where an emergency, sickness, or unexpected interruption causes a temporary shut down of physical school buildings. Many school districts currently allow blizzard bags to take the place of a few snow days, but when students are accustomed to a blended environment, seamlessly changing to a fully online environment can keep students on track in a more academically sound way. We need to ensure students and families are prepared to continue learning and know how to access online systems that are part of the regular classroom to make a learning-from-home experience as smooth as possible in the future.
Prepare Your Program for the Future
Your first attempt at online may have felt rushed. Have you thought of things you would do differently if you had more time? Are there things you wish you did differently now that you tried one way? If not, make a goal to think of that over the next few weeks as you finish and review your first version. You can also consider taking an online course in instructional design. Write down SMART goals for what you want to accomplish in your next version of your online course and check on your progress frequently. Find a colleague who wants to do the same and hold each other accountable.
You have successfully navigated the Journey to Online Learning. Owning your content provides the most return on your investment, is easier to scale, and is most helpful in an emergency – like this situation. It is our hope that you feel empowered by how far you have come! Keep on the path by finding ways to improve your online programs. Share what you have learned with your colleagues and compare successes and areas that need improvement. You have the basics covered and are ready to manage future challenges that may require learning to be fully online. Here are some tips and resources for continued learning.
- Ensure that all students have access to a digital device and Internet connection.
- Eliminate “snow days” by moving to digital learning.
- Try virtual parent-teacher conferences on Zoom as a way to support parents who are essential workers or have transportation issues and continue this practice periodically to help parents adjust to online along with their students.
- Build additional digital content online during the summer to increase your capacity while having time to thoughtfully develop and test your courses.
- Conduct or suggest virtual professional development days to model best practices in virtual learning.
- Eight Ways to Improve Online Courses – Tips from Quality Matters
- Developing Online Programs Efficiently and Effectively – Tips from CourseArc
- OLC “Salons” – Meet, share, and learn alongside educators
- Universal Design for Learning – Guidelines to steer your online courses
- Online Educator Resources – Professional development resources by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
- MIT Teaching Systems Lab – Research and ideas on the future of teacher learning
Need a refresher on the other steps in Navigating the Journey to Teaching and Learning online? Check out the steps below:
CourseArc was built as a tool and team to support organizations as they build online content. Check out our resource site to see how we can help your team. Check back to our blog and social media feeds for additional resources and case studies on how our clients are using CourseArc to move their classrooms online.
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