Teaching online and blending classrooms is a hot topic, but there’s always room for improvement. As teachers, we need to constantly refresh and update topics to improve our distance learning skills. In this blog post, you’ll discover ten topics that can help you improve your online or blended classroom. As always, we’ll focus on the research-based best practices first. I’ve also included the links to Advancement Courses’ professional development courses that relate to this topic.
1 – Flipped Classroom Concepts for Homework
The flipped classroom has been around for a while. In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures and other lesson content on video. Afterward, during the actual class time, students work on problems with their teacher’s help. When video conferencing with your students, your engagement time is more limited, and therefore more valuable.
So … now is a great time to flip your classroom and have students watch videos for their “homework” and asynchronous learning. Flipping Your Classroom: Redefining Homework and Instruction is an excellent course to help you with this.
The advantage of implementing a flipped classroom is twofold. Not only will you save valuable time now, you’ll also be more prepared to use this method when you return to your face-to-face classroom in the future.
2 – Designing Online Assessments
As you assess learning online, you’ll want to use the research-based best practices for online assessments. Feedback using your formative and summative assessment tools is also essential. As you work to assess learning, you’ll want to set an objective to use effective online assessments with your students.
Check out Designing Online Assessments for Students — a course that can help you in this area. Just remember, there are effective ways to not only assess but provide automated and rapid feedback to students so that assessment becomes a teaching tool in itself.
3 – Social Media Tools in Teaching – Using Them the Right Way
I’ve seen social media used in ways that aren’t very safe or effective. For example, when teachers post their video conferencing links publicly on social media, they are unknowingly allowing unwanted attendees to enter their online classrooms.
Using social media safely and effectively in the classroom has become more important now than ever before. A course to help support your learning goal of using social media effectively is Social Media Tools for Teaching and Learning.
This course will teach you how to plan and integrate social media into your classroom. No matter what age you teach, you’ll get the tools you need to accomplish this safely and effectively.
4 – UDL – Universal Design for Learning
Inaccessibility is still a major downfall of some online learning implementations.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) ensures that lessons are accessible for every student.
The What, Why, and How of Universal Design for Learning is a course that will help you make your online lessons and blended classrooms accessible to all learners. UDL is an excellent framework that can be used in any classroom.
5 – Technology and Students with Special Needs
Students with special needs can thrive if you know how to use the tools to help them succeed. As a mother of children with learning differences, I have personally found a wide variety of tools (available by all subject areas) that have helped my own children learn via technology.
You can best help your students implement these tech tools by learning how to use them yourself. The course I recommend for this is Using Technology to Support Students With Special Needs. This is especially important for Instructional Technology Coaches, who can then carry their newfound knowledge to help their fellow teachers set up their tech in all subject areas.
6 – Effective Project-Based Learning
Project-based learning allows students to explore their own learning and use creativity to think outside the box. In reality, some of the most engaging PBL learning can be done online. Online PBL is a great way to involve family members in the process of discovery, innovative problem solving and learning. Before you design your project, remember to review The 4 C’s of Project-Based Learning.
7 – ePortfolios
Electronic portfolios are becoming a viable alternative to showcase a student’s work. Once you learn about the tech and the tools, and understand the research behind these electronic portfolios, you’ll be equipped to structure assessment in a way that encourages your students towards success. ePortfolios are an excellent method for assessment of online learning during this time, and it’s an exciting way for kids to succeed in the virtual environment. The course I recommend for this topic is ePortfolio Tools for the Classroom.
8 – Adding Game-Based Learning and Gamification
You can make learning fun by using gamification and game-based learning, but students need more than bonus points and badges to stay engaged.
This fascinating course explains how compelling storylines, immediate feedback and game-based strategies can take your online classroom engagement to a whole new level. As you seek GBL and gamification tools for your classroom, I recommend this course to help you shine: Level Up! Student Achievement Through Gamification and Game-Based Learning.
9 – Blended Learning
After we return to our face to face classrooms, it would be a wise move to keep our blended learning classrooms operational. I’ve seen research that demonstrates that a blended classroom combines the best of both worlds — as I often say — it has the “bricks and the clicks” that make learning more powerful.
As you work online, keep in mind how you’ll integrate your online classroom into your face to face classroom. The course on Designing Blended Learning for Student Engagement and Achievement can help you.
10 – Lesson Planning
Student engagement starts the moment you begin to plan your lessons. As you create lessons, you’ll want to decide how you will differentiate instruction. You’ll want to pull engaging tools into your lesson if you’re using distance learning. You’ll even want to start with a Wow. Such excitement always starts with your lesson plan!
In the course Creating a Highly Engaging Lesson Plan, you will learn how to create compelling, engaging lessons that also differentiate in modes of instruction.
Level Up and Learn
These 10 areas for learning can help you level up your online or face to face classroom. But while you’re working to implement best practices, why not also seek professional development as a learner? I think you’ll find that as you learn online, you’ll more readily empathize and understand best practices for teaching in a digital classroom. Check out these courses and remember to use the code COOL20 to get 20% off your Advancement Courses course.