What is the best way to move into a digital learning environment?
By Chris Pearse
14 Apr

As Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, schools and other educational providers are shifting to digital learning environments. Digital learning is defined as ‘any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience’. Here, Chris Pearse shares his advice on how to best structure online learning and gives suggestions on how to get the most from digital learning platforms.

It is important to realise digital learning is not only about technology, it’s more importantly about learning. It is ensuring the wealth of knowledge available online is presented to students and parents in a clear, flexible way without overwhelming users with information. Digital learning allows students and educators to be more connected – it is very clear that we have access to more information than at any other time in history. However, during extended school and educational environment closures learning must be as engaging as the classroom experience (if not more) or students will suffer.

Supporting families with logging into platforms or apps must also be considered. Creating an online environment that doesn’t rely on parental support, is one of the biggest challenges that we face. Parents or guardians constantly supervising what their kids are supposed to be doing, learning and at what times can be added pressure on parents or guardians supporting their children learning from home – hopefully anxieties can be reduced by setting clear expectations for online participation. Below are some suggestions on how best to implement the use of digital learning with your students:

  • Setting daily and weekly goals.
  • Break learning into smaller bitesize chunks to give pupils the best chance to retain the main information.
  • Give immediate (or at least frequent) feedback through knowledge checks. This might involve using quizzes or short assessment tasks.
  • Try to keep regular dialogue with your students as this will keep them motivated and engaged in the lessons.
  • Take regular breaks and make time for exercise.
  • Limit distractions when possible (for example by turning off social media notifications) when engaging with digital content online.
  • Establish a routine – including regular breaks.

Most educators will support digital learning as it gives our learners tools and strategies that they otherwise might not have. Parameters do need to be set in the online platforms. These might include:

  • Showing respect to others
  • Listening to educators
  • Always being responsive when holding live sessions

We should also recognise that spending too much time in front of a screen is not advisable for anybody. Having a balance between exercise (getting out of the house where appropriate), family time and learning through an online platform is vital. We should also be aware that some families might be sharing devices. Therefore, educators must be adaptative and fast thinking to ensure learners are given the best possible support in these unprecedented times.

In summary, taking time to plan and to prepare before rolling out online learning with students is vital. We are moving into the child’s world through digital learning and it is how this approach to learning is balanced with associated face to face teaching that will be one of our challenges. It will take time to adjust and providing manageable and achievable goals to work on each week will help. Listening to feedback and communicating frequently will also allow you to make the most out of digital learning. Most importantly keep talking especially about the future and how much you will appreciate the normality of life when it resumes!

Chris Pearse is author of some of our 11+ verbal reasoning revision resources. Learn more about Chris here.

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