Online Teaching and Learning


Online and hybrid teaching and learning (some students in the class, some at home) requires the same type of effective teaching practices applied during typical times. However, a few additional strategies implemented regularly will enhance the teaching and learning experience for students and make life easier for teachers. The operative word is easier, not easy as this is a tough time to be teaching.

First, material management is critical.

Developing materials that follow each lesson’s steps allow students, especially those at home, to follow along and master the target goals along the way. Create an outline of your lesson with each segment as a scene in a movie or play.

Think of what you want your students to know and be able to do for each component (scene) and guide them through with an outline and accompanying materials. Writing out your target goals, or using pictures, icons, will enable students to remain focused. Google Classroom is the easiest and most efficient way to manage materials. You create your classroom and upload your materials for each day’s lesson. Students in school and at home can access the materials. For students at school who don’t have laptops, you can provide them with hard copies.

Second, when teaching skills such as problem-solving in math, different forms of writing or reading comprehension, write out the steps in the form of a checklist for students in class and at home. Make sure the steps are simple, easy to follow and that students are encouraged to check off each completed step along the way. As you model the actions, it’s useful to articulate each step.

Struggling students could be encouraged to continue moving along the way even though it may be challenging to complete all steps in the procedure. If they’ve mastered the first three steps in the problem – that’s a great accomplishment.

Third, keeping students engaged online is exponentially more difficult. For online students, sitting in their bedroom staring at a screen all day can be daunting. There are so many competing forces at play, and sometimes, these forces win out. A good rule of thumb is to think about student engagement differentially based on their age. Students in early elementary should have some opportunity to engage every 5 minutes. Engagement could involve a thumbs up, a number indicating their understanding (5 means I get it) or an icon as a means of communicating an idea or responding to a question or completing work. Older students need to be engaged, as well. The balance between teacher-directed lessons and student work should the 80% to 20%.

Frequently asking students to write in the chat or on a piece of paper or their laptop if they are in class keeps them on their toes. The writing could be a summary of an explanation they just heard or a response to a prompt or question. Using the breakout room feature is also a great way to increase engagement. When students work in groups, the directions need to be really clear, and students should be asked to briefly report back to the class. Requesting an online student to lead the discussion when students return from their breakout rooms could also serve to equalize students’ engagement online.

Finally, variety is essential. Try to incorporate different forms of teaching and learning built into each lesson. Some examples are teacher explanations, video clips, polls, quotes to respond to, educational games, digital stories and student-created presentations.