Online teaching and learning and how we can adapt

Laura Rogers

We understand that it is not easy to deliver classroom activities in a digital environment, especially under such unusual and sudden circumstances. In our recent webinar, experienced teacher and online tutor Ceri Jones, explored activities and techniques to engage primary and lower secondary learners in online teaching.

This covered topics such as ‘what is online teaching and learning?’ and ‘what are your main concerns about remote teaching?’. Ceri also explained a variety of techniques for engaging younger learners and suggested different approaches to activities.

Catch up on what you missed

Here are the accompanying slides to the webinar:

Answering your questions

We received a lot of questions from our participants throughout the session. It would be difficult to answer all of them in detail, but we have identified some common themes and Ceri has provided her advice on each.

Please note: for questions directly related to the webinar content, such as ‘what is the difference between blending and flipping?’, you will find insights within the webinar recording.

Q: How can we encourage students to be motivated and engaged during online learning?

A: Setting up some kind of routine and communicating expectations is important. Be sure to praise students for their work and for sticking to the timetable. Be aware that some students might be struggling with connectivity or other technical issues, as well as time management. Choice and variety are also important. Let students choose which task they want to do and allow them to be creative. In live lessons, keep the pace up by asking students to move around.

Q: The poll is a fantastic tool. Are there any other tools or activities to help make lessons interactive?

A: Most online classrooms will have a version of the following tools:

– Chat box: great for thinking about vocabulary and asking for short answers to questions

– Icons and emoticons: these may include a ‘Hand up’ button, a ‘Thumbs up’ button and smiley faces

– Annotation tools: great for checking answers, highlighting texts or doing quick surveys as an alternative to polls

Q: What is the ideal duration of an online lesson for primary and lower secondary learners?

A: Usually, the younger the students, the shorter the ideal lesson duration. 40 minutes is probably ideal for upper primary and lower secondary. 30 minutes with lower primary or maybe an even shorter session with the youngest learners, 15 to 20 minutes.

Lessons do not always have to be taught live. You could share video or voice recordings, such as a storytelling session or a sing-along with actions for students to follow the movements on screen. These recordings can be used at any time and can also be fun for parents!

Q: Do you have any advice on making sure that learners are doing their own work?

A: During the school closures, a lot of children have found ways to support each other online. They will often be working together on tasks. The best was to ensure that each student is contributing is to personalise the work in some way. Some ideas include sharing their personal opinions and telling stories from their own experiences.

Consider ways in which the student could provide evidence, such as taking a photo of handwritten work or doing a voice recording to explain how they completed the task. In giving feedback, praise the time and effort they put into completing the task.

Q: Do you have any advice on how to support learners with special needs during online teaching?

A: There are many ways that we can support learners. You could share copies of reading texts so that students can familiarise themselves with the material beforehand. Let students choose how they respond to questions during the lesson. Perhaps they would prefer to type instead of speaking or use the annotation tools.

Make sure that task instructions are supported with images and text on-screen and take your time explaining the task. The chat function can be used to provide extra support to students who need it.

Q: When we return to the classroom, how can we get learners back into the habit of formal learning?

A:  From finding knowledge gaps and measuring progress, to supporting wellbeing, find advice, guidance and inspiration for your school on our website.