Easy, effective, remote learning ideas

Now it’s becoming clear most schools will be closing due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), school leaders will be looking into remote learning solutions. It’s best to first decide on a tool for communicating with your pupils that is ideal for the whole school. If you have time, find out if your pupils have reliable internet access and which devices they use. Once you decide on the best means of communication, find or create a good bank of resources/activities to send out. Try to maximise the use of any online learning communication platforms and resources you may have already purchased, taking advantage of any available free upgrades.

There are lots of resources out there both free and require a paid subscription. Here are some useful tools you may want to consider:

VLE platforms

If you don’t already have a Virtual Learning Environment, you may want to consider investing in a school-wide platform. VLEs lost some popularity with the arrival of O365 and GSuite, but it’s still a useful tool for primary schools as it’s more child-friendly. A VLE is a private website that can only be accessed by a school, it’s pupils, staff and parents. As well as allowing teachers to send out homework, assessments and online activities, they also provide a means to track pupil progress and save pupil portfolios. Lots of companies provide VLEs with their school website subscription such as DBPrimary, WebAnywhere or SchoolSpider, so it’s worth checking if it’s included in your website package. VLEs are easy to set up, usually linked to your MIS database so student details are updated daily. Having used many VLEs, the process of uploading work and sending it out to students takes only a few clicks. You can send links to videos, upload worksheets, ask for a recorded message as homework… there are so many uses! There are usually tutorials available for teachers when logging in, so it will be easy to implement within a short space of time with basic initial staff training.

ClassDojo

I’m sure everyone’s familiar with this as a behaviour recording tool, but ClassDojo is also a communication platform. They have a quick setup guide which promises to have you ready for remote learning within a day. Check out the link.

Live online lessons

It does seem a bit daunting for those who rarely use the webcam but it’s closer to a normal classroom environment than any other solution out there. Pupils can “raise their hand” in the chatbox if they have a question and you can mute pupils if needed. You can also share your screen which is handy for showing websites, PowerPoints and Smart/Promethean files. If your school has a GSuite or Microsoft Office 365 subscription, why not consider using Google Hangouts Meet or Microsoft Teams to run live lessons. Due to the current situation, both companies have made changes to the systems to make it even easier to broadcast lessons to hundreds of participants. They have also created tutorials for teachers on running live lessons. Zoom and Skype apps are also very popular ways to host webinars.

Recorded Video Lessons

If technical problems are disrupting your live lessons, it’s easier to send a recorded video. You could upload these to your chosen communication platform, or just set up your own YouTube channel and email a link to pupils or their parents. There are lots of ways you could record engaging videos. Aside from recording yourself talking using your smartphone, tablet, laptop, webcam or visualiser, try using the screen record tool on your iPad/iPhone, or another screen recording app if you have an Android. Some Windows devices have a built-in screen capture tool which you can access by searching for ‘Game Bar’ in Settings. The Smart Learning Suite also has a built-in desktop recording tool, which records the entire desktop, not just Smart applications. Using a variety of creative tools for your videos will ensure lessons are interesting. Remember to keep them short… no one likes 60min video lectures! We all know of iMovie, Final Cut Pro and Clips, but there are so many video editing apps out there which include ready-made templates so you don’t have to do any editing at all.

EDpuzzle 

I’ve just discovered this tool and I think it’s fantastic. Use it to create video lessons by building questions and notes into any existing YouTube videos. You can add restrictions to stop pupils skipping ahead and also monitor how much of the video they have watched. If they’re going to be inclined to watch YouTube at home in quarantine, let’s make it educational!

Lumen5 

A great tool for turning your writing into an engaging video. It’s simple to use and you could make multiple lessons without being on camera at all!

ShowMyHomework

Another popular platform for sending work to pupils. This is a good investment which you may want to carry on using even after the virus situation has subsided. As well as allowing communication between pupils and teachers, parents are also kept up to date on pupil progress and notified when homework is

Twinkl

The popular site with millions of resources is now offering free subscriptions. There are plenty of PDFs for you to include on your chosen online learning solution. If you can’t go down the paperless route, it’s still well worth signing up and printing activities for your class or encouraging parents to create an account.

Kahoot! 

The free game-based learning platform is now offering free premium subscriptions. Not only will you be able to teach via video and live games/quizzes, but you can set self-paced quizzes for homework and produce that all-important progress

Book Creator 

Pupils should already be using the Book Creator app to create fantastic multimedia projects, but this is also a great way for teachers to produce lesson workbooks. Some Book Creator premium features are now free for 90 days, so you can create lots of mesmerising ebooks full of videos, links, images and voice recordings. You can also collaborate on them live and the developers have provided a list of ways to utilise the app in different subjects.

These are just a few of the many solutions out there. Every day more EdTech companies are providing tools and subscriptions for free or at a reduced price. While everything around us seems uncertain, it’s great to see companies are trying to support schools through this very stressful time. Hopefully, these resources will help to ensure that teaching and learning in your school can continue with minimal disruption.

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