Meaningful Virtual Learning - Maximizing Opportunities in Remote Education

School schedules, learning spaces, student groupings and personnel configurations have all been affected by Covid-19. These educational structures have been disrupted and have to be re-imagined. What ‘Bold Moves’ can we take to ensure that digital learning environments are as effective as traditional ones? The gap between onsite and online learning may not be as wide as we think and used together might be the perfect hybrid learning environment. The approach to learning in a virtual classroom offers opportunities and advantages for students of all types.
In a classroom, teachers are making students feel safe and comfortable, observing body language, assessing readiness for learning and communicating expectations – all of which are possible through video conferencing. After overcoming the learning curve of new technology, the shift for teachers is in pedagogy - how educators use their time online with students makes the biggest difference. Teachers have to understand that some activities are best suited for a traditional classroom and shouldn’t be attempted in a virtual learning space. However, remote education offers opportunities for individualized, personalized and experiential learning that engages students and is efficient and effective for academic performance.
Distance learning activities can be easily differentiated and offer students increased independent practice time. Learning can be pragmatic and applied to hands-on activities in the home – measurements for a recipe or the square footage of a room; slow looking scientific observations of plant parts in a yard; or current events - exponential growth curves and graph plotting.
Individualized instruction meets the needs of students with a range of abilities and mastery of a skill set. Students have an opportunity to self-regulate, self-evaluate and self-motivate with proper guidance from teachers in a digital space to a greater degree than otherwise possible in a traditional classroom with all students in a room at the same time. Through this lens we are able to see some of the pedagogical advantages of distance learning and make bold moves now that can last into life after the pandemic.