How to Teach Students Effectively in Digital Environments

The COVID-19 pandemic confined us to our homes and compelled us to limit social interactions. It also paved the way for a new trend of digitization where we had to sort for remote collaboration and working methods to fulfil our daily professional and even personal obligations. Education is no exception to this. Schools are increasingly adopting online teaching methods to conduct learning activities.

Creately, together with and SMB Value Partners Inc hosted a Twitter chat to find out effective ways to engage students in a digital learning environment. Given below is what we observed and discussed.

Q1) What is the best way to correctly identify a student’s learning ability during online classes and provide the attention they need?

In order for a lesson to be effective, educators need to identify how students grasp teachings and their learning styles and barriers. Keen observation on the part of the teacher is key in determining how students learn.

In response to a question posed by Creately on the measures a teacher can take when a student needs more attention in a particular area, SMB Value Partners Inc stressed the importance of ensuring that students are engaged with the lesson.

“Pay attention to who is participating and the amount of time they are logged in. Try to ensure there are opportunities to engage – in real-time – by posting a question and requesting an answer within a specific amount of time (are they online, are they paying attention…).”

SMB Value Partners Inc

Q2) What are some techniques to prepare students for the real world through online learning?

Learning isn’t always subject or theory specific. You can also learn by listening to people’s experiences and how they have overcome challenges.

“Have guests participate in your class. People who are actually working in the subject. If it’s a math class, have a guest who is a mathematician in real life or an accountant, as an example. Find someone who is actually being paid to do that work and have them share their story.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

Q3) What are the key factors that make an online course effective?

Making an online study session engaging can be challenging for a teacher given the fact that when compared, classroom learning is more interactive. However, there are ways that can be used to make online courses as effective.

“Measurements. Provide tests/quizzes along the way. Test for comprehension. Even a quick 2-3 question quiz that is unexpected can help you determine learning effectiveness. Also, provide a safe place – an online community – for students to ‘gather’ to support each other.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

In agreement, Creately added that asking your students a few unexpected questions will enable a teacher to gauge the effectiveness of his/her lessons.

Q4) What is the best way to ensure consistent quality during online courses?

It is important to give students the opportunity to look at practical scenarios and use what they learned to navigate through those.

“Have an outline that includes the theory but also practical examples – real-life examples. Also, mix up the lesson formats so it’s not always the same to allow for a variety of learning styles, ensuring the lessons are relatable to as many students as possible.”

SMB Value Partners Inc
Course Design Template - Effective Online Teaching Methods
Course Design Template (Click on the image to edit it online)

Q5) Is online education as effective as face-to-face instruction?

Peer community is an integral part of school education. Not only do we share meaningful friendships with them but also learn from each other. To this end, SMB Value Partners highlighted the importance of having an online community in digitized education.

“It can be almost as effective IF you include an online community in addition to the actual instruction by the teacher. Students who are part of an online community of peers also learn from each other. Have a blended teaching model – online teaching AND a peer student community.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

Q6) What is the best way to track a child’s progress?

How can teachers be sure that their students have grasped what they are learning? This is where progress tracking comes into play. SMB Value Partners shed some light on how this should be practised in the online classroom.

”By testing for comprehension and mitigate when you see a decline in the scores. Children learn differently, some more audio, some more visual, kinetic, etc. Because of these learning style differences, you may need to adjust for specific students with different learning needs.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

When it comes to online learning, there are practical difficulties a teacher may encounter when trying to give special focus to each student and customizing according to their learning abilities. How can this be addressed?

“Teachers should have an understanding of each child’s unique learning styles. Adjust real time if possible, but connect one on one with each student each month to ensure comprehension of the subject is happening.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

Q7) How do schools support social and emotional learning activities to help develop broader life skills?

SMB value partners reiterated how real-life examples can contribute to enhancing the learning experience by helping students understand the practical usage of a particular subject.

“Make efforts to include additional guest instructors who can add value (from the real world) to put that lesson into context. Why is this subject important? Why are we spending time on this subject? How does it matter in the real world? Connects the dots to the practical use of the knowledge.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

Q8) How do schools manage behavioural issues?

Constructive discipline is imperative to the effectiveness of the learning process. However, tackling behavioural issues can be challenging in an online environment where there is no physical interaction and with many uncontrollable factors in play.

To this end, SMB Values Partners suggested that teachers could implement a set of online etiquette to help students get adjusted to learning in an online environment.

“Have ‘rules of engagement/online etiquette’ list. You can consider this a zero-tolerance policy. Quickly review at the beginning of each class to remind/level set the students. If a student misbehaves, stop speaking and address the class as a whole, reminding them of the policy.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

Q9) How do teachers provide effective feedback and how often do they need to?

Teachers need to have an effective communication line in place with the students in addition to the formal online sessions.

“After a few sessions of the class, the teacher should contact that student individually to ‘check-in’. Keep it quick… Hi Tom, this is Ms. Jones. I just wanted to check in with you to see what you’re thinking about our online class. Are you enjoying it? Do you need any help?”

SMB Value Partners Inc

This is a simple yet highly effective exercise to ensure that students are gaining a fruitful learning experience.

Q10) What role should parents play in online teaching?

At school, children follow a timetable or a routine and there is a specific place to learn. As to the role that parents play in online learning, SMP Value Partners stressed that parents should make efforts to create a consistent and quiet learning environment.

“Parents should ensure a consistent, quiet, learning environment. Make sure their child is well-rested and fed before class. Parents should ensure a consistent location – a place where the student sits at the same time each day – a place that is ideally their own. And no phones.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

Q11) How to limit distractions during online classes?

A lesson is only useful if students pay attention. The fewer the distractions are the more conducive the environment will be for focusing and learning.

“Havehouse rules’. During an online class, no distractions. No phones. Doors to rooms are closed during ‘learning time’ and parents make every effort to minimize distractions, talking, music, TV noise while instruction is in progress. Keep learning time structured and consistent.”

SMB Value Partners Inc

The Pandemic changed our way of life, and education is a big part of that change. Despite the disruptions, mankind’s noble cause of dissemination of knowledge and information must prevail for our society to evolve. The current status quo certainty suggests that online learning is the way forward. So instead of resistance, let’s pave the way for effective change and nurture the future generation as they prepare to take over the baton.

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Hansani Bandara

Hansani is a content specialist at Creately. She loves reading and writing about tech innovations. She enjoys writing poetry, travelling and photography.

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