This school year looks a little different; both teachers and students have a lot on their plates.
Since then, many were thrown into online learning with little or no preparation and have been on a steep learning curve. As we push ahead to ensure we grasp technology and teach in the best way out; our students' virtual learning expectations may get overlooked. Whatsoever the case, just because you are teaching virtually does not mean your students' expectations have to go unnoticed!
Here is a list of expectations elementary students and their parents have from elearning based on our research. Let us have a look!
Extra Time to Log-In
Students are expected to log in a little early just as they reach class either before or on time, but sometimes logging in may take longer than expected, and it can distract the class. So, students or their parents may want to have extra 5-10 minutes before the class starts to login.
Help Understand Technology
Children of today's age are usually incredibly fast at picking up technology; they may need help with the technology's ins and outs. It is expected from you to support and guide your students to understand technologies' know-how, help keep them on track, and ensure your online lessons go as smoothly as possible.
We have all been there, the dreaded low battery notification in the middle of something important! The same may happen with your students. Here, make sure that elementary students know to have their device charged and ready to go. Since their parents accompany them, they do not miss anything by having to rush to get their charger on. Also, if in case this happens to allow them to get their devices on.
Instruct to Dress Appropriately
Whether online or offline being ready to learn includes your outfit! Instructing kids to wear proper clothes for online school lessons would help switch their brains into 'work' mode and look and feel ready to learn.
Assist in Setting up Work Station
It can be challenging for many students to maintain their attention when your teaching is reduced to a small screen and may get distracted by the slightest thing! Encourage them to have a distraction-free workstation with only their school supplies in the surrounding. This would help them stay on task, but you can concentrate on teaching and not worry about what your students may get distracted by.
Rules for Using Tech Features
Set certain rules for using technologies which may be new for some students. Make sure they use all communication features available: video, mic, chatbox, emojis, reactions, and tools; of course, in the right way. Since having a microphone and camera in online classes is important. Many students may fail to realise that their microphones are loud. Even if they pay attention, they may have something in the background, creating noises in the background that may distract the class. There is a possibility that they may switch on their camera accidentally. For this reason, you should guide when it is important to mute their microphones or camera.
Put your learners first
All online learning should be learner-centric. In traditional learning, courses are designed from the top-down, where a subject matter expert determines a learner's needs and then creates material to impart it.
However, those models often overlook the student's point of view. They rarely ask "Where is the learner? How will they interact with their learners? What experience will be most suitable for them? How will they apply what they have learned in a real situation? Learners expect you to have answers to all and provide a better education.
Build Norms with Students
In an online learning environment, it is challenging to create a "classroom community." However, one way to help your students feel connected to their class, even while apart, is to build classroom norms together. This will increase classroom participation and interest students to take on online classes with the same zeal as they would in an offline class.
Anticipate learner variability
There are possibilities that what works for one student might miss the mark for another. It can be difficult to accommodate "learner variability" in the classroom. However, now instructional design teams can consider learner variability in ways that were not possible before. Children would expect their teachers to design the digital learning experience addressing each learner's needs, interests, and preferences.
Creation of active learning experience
Instead of passive, lecture-based learning, learners expect online learning to be more interesting and engaging. They would look for hands-on, project-based approaches rather than mere learning. Not only will this build community but improve learner engagement as well.
Allow for Snacks Breaks
Just as you would not be allowed to snack during class at school, you would not be allowed for the same in virtual learning. Therefore, students would expect you to allow for snacks break in between the class. It will help your students maintain a school-like schedule, but it will also keep their digital equipment crumb and smear-free.
Partaking is a little harder when kids are viewed on a screen. Online classes do have the chat function, but kids may use them unnecessarily. It would help if you make your students realise that when they write in the chat, everyone can see it; and might distract classmates. Therefore, introducing a set of signals for kids to let you know when they have something to contribute to the class discussion would be liked by the kids. This way, they will feel just as eager to participate and try their best as they do in the real classroom! Also, allowing them to put forward their views will make them feel heard and valued.
Put Forward your Expectations
Just as the classroom, your students need to understand your expectations during remote lessons clearly. However, elementary students are too young to understand, but rules for behaviour and participation need to be translated into the online learning environment. Students would look up to what are your expectations from them and would indeed adhere to them.
Communicate Norms and Expectations with Families
When you are teaching students at their home, it is essential to keep their guardians informed; they would expect them. Therefore, you should establish a personal connection by starting with a phone call, rather than an email. This will allow you to ask questions in real-time to form connections with others. However, you may have a follow-up email to your phone conversation to show that you are willing to help parents remember you and your class in a written format.
You may also consider a virtual, interactive meet and a teacher slideshow to share with students and families instead.