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Learning in Quarantine: Getting Your Learners Hooked! (Part 1)

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What is the best strategy to maximise and optimise learning during the COVID-19 quarantine? What tools and resources should you make use of in your online classroom?


Engaging, exciting, thought-provoking learning triggers!
Beginning Wednesday, 1st April, 2020
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Note: This is part 1 of this blog post. You can access part 2 here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has jolted the world into the realm of online co-working and co-learning.

Teachers, educators and parents have been busy figuring out effective workflows using technology. Do you get all your students on a video conference? Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts – what do you use? Do you simply send them resources through your school’s ERP? How do you assess their learning - if at all? Should you just get your children to sign up for one of these online coaching services?

Questions, questions, questions!

In this two-part inaugural blog post, we suggest a list of tools and workflows that can help optimise learning in the online classroom. Supplementing this, we will offer some pedagogical tips that can help you maximise learning in this setting by drawing the learners in using enticing and exciting hooks.

Use the links below to jump to individual sections –

  1. Part 1: What communication tools should you choose?
  2. Part 1: What resources should you provide?
  3. Part 2: How should you plan your online class?
  4. Part 2: What to expect from this blog

What communication tools should you choose? #

Let’s start with the easy bit first. How do you communicate with your students online? There are two parts to this –

  1. Sharing information, documents and resources: While it is possible that your school might already have ties with certain service providers that allow you to share files and send text messages directly to students (or their parents), we will quickly provide an overview of the categories of options available for this –
    1. Instant Messaging (WhatsApp, Telegram): A class group can allow you to quickly share documents from your phone to every student and also track who has received it and who hasn’t. Plus, it is allows bi-directional communication. This is the most frictionless solution.
    2. Learning Management System (Google Classroom, Moodle): If your school subscribes to such a service, you can upload all types of documents, resources and quizzes. This requires everyone to log in and the whole process is a little bit more involved in comparison. This works best with a laptop or desktop computer rather than a mobile device.
    3. School Management System: Many private schools make use of these services to reach out to parents and keep track of school records. The usual downside to such services is that they only offer one-way communication and are not necessarily instantaneous.

    We have left out email from this because of how cumbersome it is to keep track of a conversation when more than a handful of people are involved!

  2. Running a virtual classroom: This is likely going to be new for most teachers, and understandably so. Thankfully, many popular services have pragmatically expanded their free tier to accommodate the increased demand. Here are the three major categories of options available for this –
    1. Cloud meetings (Zoom, Microsoft Teams): The easiest of the lot. The teacher needs to create an account and set up a meeting. Students can join using the link to the meeting without having to create an account. This allows easy two-way communication and screen sharing capabilities which is the closest one can get to replicating the classroom experience.
    2. Video calling (Facetime, Google Hangouts): While these services are useful for talking to friends and family, they are not quite ideal for a classroom setting since the document and screen sharing capabilities are not well made. There is a cap on the maximum number of participants as well which might not work for most classrooms.
    3. Livestream (YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch): This is possibly the most involved process as it requires a lot of preliminary infrastructural setup. Plus, livestreaming is a one-way service and it wouldn’t be possible to get responses from students on the go (except for a limited text chat).

The highlighted options above are the ones that we feel are best suited for most situations since they are easy to use, free, and offer bi-directional communication.

What resources should you provide? #

There is so much content on the Internet. From videos on Khan Academy to AI-driven lessons on Byju’s with traditional text-based webpages like Wikipedia in between – the mountain of choice is pretty much insurmountable. Add to that the content provided by the Education Resource Portal (ERP) that your school has probably subscribed to. And then there are DIKSHA and NROER portals run by the government.

What do you do?

There is no silver bullet solution that will work for each learner in every classroom. You, as the teacher, should take an informed decision. To aid you in this process, in the next section we provide you with a few points to consider when designing your online lecture.

The rule of thumb is –

No resource, no matter how well-made, can lead to learning unless the learner is given a reason to engage with it.

Click here to read part-2 of this blog post.

Stay indoors. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Disclaimer: The authors, Ignus Pahal and Chachi are in no way related to any of the third-party platforms and services mentioned in this blog post.

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