MARCH 30, 2020: Building amazing online classroom communities can keep teaching & learning moving forward during this challenging time! Make distance learning engaging with fun ideas and digital resources for remote teaching.

As we continue our transition to online classes due to COVID-19, educators and learners are faced with the need to swiftly prepare contingency plans for distance learning. Distance learning does not only aim to maintain the normal provision of courses, digitally enhance the level of learning and inspire independent study, it also facilitates a wide choice of educational possibilities and approaches that are digitally accessible at all times. Distance learning is about teaching for everyone, anywhere. Do you want to redefine your meaning of distance learning? Looking to better utilize digital devices? Eager to maximize online time during these times? Remember the work teachers do changes everyone’s life. Keep teaching!

Maximize your online education initiatives with Nearpod a globally connected education digital platform. Join thousands of teachers all over the world who are bringing their classrooms to life using Nearpod’s free, customizable and ready-to-teach interactive lessons for all subjects. Engage students one-to-one by synchronizing your lessons across all student devices outside the classroom and get real-time feedback on their comprehension. Learn how Nearpod is transforming schools all over the world with its complete distance learning solutions.

Remote Learning on ClassDojo is here to support you as you make the transition to a remote learning community. Classrooms and courses become great learning communities and we need to strive to maintain a close relationship. During these unprecedented times keeping our community connected is more important than ever. ClassDojo helps you instantly communicate and digitally engage with all students, so you can keep building relationships while the university and schools are closed. It is 100% free, and you can get set up in minutes. ClassDojo is on a mission to bring communities together and give them digital tools, ideas, and energy to improve distance learning for all.

Google for Education is a digital platform built for distance learning that is easy to use, flexible and scalable, enables collaboration, and secure by design. It includes simple but powerful productivity tools like G Suite for Education. Transform how educators and students learn, work, and innovate together with free, secure, digital tools designed to empower educators and students. G Suite for Education sparks learning by offering rich educational content using these digital tools. To learn more about how to leverage the tools to enable distance learning, check the tool-based trainings on the distance learning resource page.

As unexpected factors prevent students from attending school in-person, how might educators leverage powerful tools to extend learning to home environments? Using communication platforms that support video conferencing is a useful start. Video conferences you help us connect with our classes from anywhere. Through easy-to-join video calls, you can meet face to face without the travel. Next, find some video communications resources for today’s collaborative classrooms:

    • Hangouts Meet by Google for Education allows educators to connect with students virtually through secure video calls and messaging inside the Google domain. A new video meeting experience with one goal: make joining meetings effortless to keep the learning going outside the classroom as productive and valuable as face-to-face.

    • Whereby allows you to video conference with bigger groups at a price. You can have up to 50 people in meetings, and make meetings engaging with reaction emojis! With the built-in cross-platform group chat, you can screen share, record and text chat to bring the whole experience together.

    • Zoom helps universities and schools improve student outcomes with secure video communication services for hybrid classrooms, modern learning for the modern student. Zoom is temporarily removing the 40-minute time limit on free Basic accounts for educational institutions affected by the Coronavirus.

Before building out your plan, explore how to approach distance learning pedagogies. Their intention is for every student and every educator, in every classroom to still have the tools and skills that set them up for success in building the future they want for themselves, even in an online environment. Distance learning offers both complexities and opportunities that differ from traditional in-person teaching and learning, for that reason, organization is key. Slack is a digital resource that stands for  “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge.” Educators use Slack for group management and everything that needs to be organized. Organize your work by team or project using channels. Collaborate with colleagues using your existing digital tools like Google Drive. Slack brings the team together, wherever you are!

Let’s look back to previous posts that can help during these distancing times as well: Amplify Student Voice with Flipgrid! & Avoid Death by Powerpoint! In the latter, we introduce the presentation software Prezi. Now meet Prezi Video! A brand new video creation tool that puts you and your graphics on screen together in real-time. Get started in minutes, and interact with your content live as you stream or record for more natural, seamless, and compelling videos. Bring you, your content, and your students together, online! Prezi Video makes distance learning engaging, purposeful, and fun. Keep your students’ attention, even when they’re tuning in from home. Use Prezi Video to record mini-lectures and study guides, or Livestream in a video conference with easy-to-use video templates, it also works with Zoom and Hangouts Meet, and it’s free for teachers and students.

As the education world has been turned upside down, teachers can still build a strong human connection with students through online learning. As educators, we can help our students focus on important content in the digital atmosphere. The educational applications, platforms and resources above aim to help facilitate distance learning and provide social interaction during these periods. A friend said to me: “They say social distancing, I say physical distancing!”, I choose her perspective as well. We can be digitally together! These digital tools can be seen primarily for distance learning needs, but most of them offer functionalities that help expand access to education through technology to build connections, relationships and ultimately, community! Use them wisely…