Virtual learning refers to a comprehensive online learning environment whereby all parties engage with a comprehensive variety of teaching and learning strategies. It is not just teaching online. It is about a fully integrated approach that is far from simple for the teachers and definitely not so for the parents and students. At least not initially. Virtual learning is most effective when all parties work together collaboratively, hence the reason for sharing these virtual learning tips and ideas to parents, students and teachers. As a team you can succeed!
These virtual learning tips are for Parents first. Let’s face it you are likely to be under stress right now and also looking for ideas to make things smoother.
The tips are for Students second. We know you either love or hate this period of time. Whatever the case, it is important to make learning efficient, productive and effective.
Teachers – we know you want parents and students to have a smoother ride. What helps them helps you, right!
Here are 10 Virtual Learning Tips for Parents, Students and Teachers:
- Try to create a schedule
The truth is we all work best with a routine and schedule and even though it might look different for everyone, it helps to map out a plan. Consider the fixed events you cannot change eg. the teaching schedule, as well as the things you have a preference for eg. sleep times, recreation, fun, as well as the things you have no control over eg. unexpected changes, internet failures, interruptions. Create time and space for all of the above in a schedule that helps organise you both physically and mentally.
2. Be organised with all of your material and equipment
There are many things we need for online learning, from pencils, paper and pens to wifi, special Apps and access to software. Log in information, passwords and accessibility are very important right now so have them handy. Have more than you need and make everything accessible. There are no excuses then – including those you create for yourself.
3. Create the right environment that matches your style
Some like a little music, while for others that is a distraction. Some prefer isolation while others like to be nearby others. Whatever works is ok, if it matches your personality and learning style but make it work. Adjust it and measure its success by outcomes. Whatever helps you achieve the functions and outcomes you are searching for is what you should apply. You can almost always personalise your child’s learning space (sound, lighting, resources) and you can likely adjust a schedule in some ways that make it meaningful.
4. Layer your schedule and plan from big picture to finer detail
It is important to “backward map” large tasks or goals into smaller bite size pieces. Start with the end in mind then work back into daily or even hourly tasks that help you move successfully towards completion. You will feel more satisfied and on track as you gradually take many small steps on a longer journey of completion.
5. Focus on understanding
While it might seem satisfying to “complete” work and tasks in “quantity” it is far more important to judge success by understanding. If you understand you have created a building block that creates a much stronger foundation for future tasks and learning. Shortcuts will come back to bite you later. We often refer to the development of a Growth Mindset. This isn’t about what to learn or how to learn but rather how to think about what we are learning and how we value it.
6. Create completion milestones
It may seem lonely at times working independently but it is your own satisfaction, as well as the tracking and completion of key tasks that are important. Don’t focus on “time” but focus on the execution and completion of work tasks.
7. Communicate and collaborate between all parties
The virtual learning process requires a partnership. Students need support, encouragement and communication from their parents but they don’t want adults to be overbearing. Teachers will appreciate intervention by parents and communication when things are off track but we are all busy and rescuing children from disasters is only a short term fix. Teachers need to communicate succinctly and effectively with all parties and multiple, multilayered instructions can get confusing. We need to be purposeful and succinct with communication and avoid email and message overload. Let’s remove the “noise” that virtual learning can sometimes create.
8. Be aware of the learning process
We call it metacognition. It refers to “thinking about thinking” and being aware of how we are thinking and learning in the process. We need to plan how to approach a learning task, using the right skills and strategies to solve a problem. We should monitor our own understanding, self-assessing and make corrections in response to that internal feedback. We should evaluate progress towards the completion of a task. If we rely on just external feedback from others we will be less effective.
9. Be motivated or find motivation
Motivation is a mindset however in truth it is not like a tap, turned on 100% of the time. Like a wave, it comes and goes in very natural ways. Punishment is not a great motivator. Rewards are certainly better. But the best of all are strategies that we describe as intrinsic, or internally motivated by ourselves. We do things because they are personally satisfying or well connected to a bigger purpose. We enjoy and find personal value in accomplishing tasks. We all need to find and deeply understand the intrinsic motivators that make a difference for us. When we feel less motivated we need to reconnect with that purpose or use it as a fuel to redirect us.
10. Mindfulness and wellbeing
We all know that taking moments to practice and discuss mindfulness helps students do better both emotionally and academically. A balanced state of mind increases our focus and memory and reduces stress and anxiety. Virtual learning creates a different context for mindfulness practice and some simple strategies can help integrate mindfulness practice into days that are different to our normal routines. There are many rituals that can be scheduled throughout a students day that are very helpful in creating balance. Just as we might schedule meetings, lunch breaks and other essential tasks, we should also identify times for mindfulness and well being activities.
Senior Managing Partner and Education Expert Shanna Parry
Combining her passions for teaching, training and travel, Shanna Parry has since worked throughout the USA, Middle East, India and China serving as a director (Higher Education), headmaster (Secondary School) and consultant (K-12). Shanna brings a wealth of experience in a variety of critical areas.
In 2018 and 2019 Shanna was identified as top 30 in the Education category for Global Gurus among some of the worlds leading Education experts. Shanna continues to travel extensively to meet the demands for her consulting expertise in administrative and teacher development.
In her role as Senior Managing Partner of GSE she plays a key role in the day-to-day operations as well as pioneering creative models for international schools and providing groundbreaking training methods for directors, administrators, teachers, and students.
Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.
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