- In a remote learning environment, establishing rules and etiquette for student-led discussions will encourage all students to participate, John Ng, an English language teacher and debate coach at St. Paul’s College in Hong Kong who has experience guiding virtual discussions, writes for Edutopia. Ng adds that teachers need to remind students to mute their microphones unless they are talking and to avoid interrupting each other.
- Students should also be given time to research the discussion topic and organize their ideas into background information and the arguments for and against an idea. Ng suggests smaller groups will generate more conversation from all participants.
- Selecting a student leader will increase group participation, and for younger students, teachers can select student leaders most likely to generate a dynamic where discussions will occur. Teachers should not dominate online discussions, but rather encourage the leader to include others in the conversation.
When school starts this fall, many students and teachers will continue distance learning. Though the sudden school closures in spring took most educators by surprise and required them to adapt to an entirely new and unfamiliar model of learning, the summer months allow time to weigh lessons learned, create best practices and adapt professional development.
As schools closed, teachers created own online teaching plans, which required students with multiple teachers to figure out several approaches. Information was shared in different places, and teachers met on different days of the week and often at different times. It's recommended, however, that schools create a consistent plan so students know where to find information for all of their classes.
In a PDK survey, 76% of students said structure and interaction are the best way to keep them engaged during distance learning. Additionally, 70% said communication keeps them engaged, and 41% said guided group interaction is important.
Many students struggled with the transition to learning online from home. A number of educators took cues from social media to create short, entertaining content that kept students engaged by modeling some lessons after TikTok videos.
Educators also must adapt online lessons for different learning styles. Auditory/verbal learners will thrive listening to instructors and participating in group discussions. Tactile/kinesthetic learners, on the other hand, will do best with hands-on activities. Online learning for these students can include labs, field work that can be discussed in class and 3D graphic simulations.