Everything can be an opportunity if you make it one.  In the past three weeks everything from businesses to schools to anything non-essential has been cancelled in support of social distancing.  All of your teachers, administrators, and students are remote. Where do you start?  

  1. Set up working agreement sessions with the teachers and administrators

The working agreement session in general is designed to make sure everyone knows the tools, the expectations of timing, the setup, cover frequently asked questions, and manage parent as well as adult student expectations. 

The first item to be covered is the communication strategy: 

  • What tools are we going to communicate with generally to give the classes?
  • How often are we going to check in with each other? Note: There are many chat options to look at.  Slack or Teams can be utilized, depending on your school system’s software.
  • What is the emergency communication strategy for students that have issues that need to be escalated to administrators?
  • What tools do we have set up for coordination between groups, such as teachers and administrators?  How is this going to work for everyone?
  • What is your email rule?  How many emails will it take to call an online meeting?  What hours would these be scheduled in based on the teaching day?

Classroom Work Levels

  • What is required for homework to be turned in?
  • What communication tools will the students use?
  • What about the students that do not have access to required equipment or resources?

Technical Questions

  • What general access levels does everyone need to software tools? 
  • What is the backup protocol if your communication tool doesn’t work? For example, if Webex is down, Zoom would be utilized. 
  1. Setup a webinar for the parents and adult students.

It is not too late to schedule a webinar for your students, parents, and administrators.  The goal of this meeting is to convey the scheduling, the tools, address frequently asked questions, where to get technical help if needed, and expectations out of the e-learning classes.

  1. Make sure everyone’s webcam is on to ensure people are paying attention and maintaining their presence in the meeting.  This will help your teachers gauge their student’s reactions and comprehension. 

Individuals learning and working remote tend to not want to utilize their webcam and then may check-out of the class.  You can ensure this policy by setting up your tool to auto use the webcam in all of your scheduled meetings. Please make sure to tell everyone if you are going to use this policy due to the remote culture.

  1. Give your educators tips and tricks to manage the classroom remotely.

Learning remotely can be great or needs improvement based on the delivery of the class.  This is a topic I could write a book on because there are so many great tips and tricks. Some tips and tricks are: 

  • Teachers need more preparation time online than in the classroom due to the complexity of communication, the online tools, and the absence of student body language.
  • Identify expectations on the educator and student side at the beginning of the class.
  • Encourage teach-backs of all materials.  If students can teach it back, it ensures understanding and if they can’t you can correct right away as an educator.
  • Encourage group work (Note: Zoom provides group break out rooms) as much as possible and teach backs.
  • Make your learning objectives clear have students practice to ensure comprehension.  Practice, practice, practice!! “Death by PowerPoint” is easier online, but it is not conducive to learning.

The goal of this communication speaks to COVID-19 and emergency remote situations.  In the future, it would be good to have a cohesive backup plan set in place. Let us know if we can help in anyway as we are happy to help and have worked with several industries and organizations regarding this issue as well.