With the pandemic disrupting education for many, the next best solution is to go virtual. However, shifting to virtual learning can make it harder for students to gain access to their education. As a teacher or member of the school administration, you need to make sure this new situation can be a better experience for all parties involved including the students, parents, and other teachers.
Here are several tips on how you can improve education accessibility with virtual learning:
Provide and manage expectations
First, you need to provide expectations to parents and teachers and manage those expectations. Tell them what they can expect from virtual learning, assist them in finding ways they can adjust to this new kind of education, and help them find the right tools or resources.
Secure technological equity
As advantageous online learning is, there’s going to be a few challenges that you need to acknowledge. One of these is the fact that not all students have access to computers or laptops and the internet. It’s going to be hard for those students to participate in any kind of virtual learning if that’s the case. You need to take action. Make sure students at least have access to mobile phones and the internet. If your institution has the capability, provide them with laptops or mobile devices which can help them get the education they need.
Plan and practice
As a teacher or professor, you need to plan and practice. Virtual learning is going to be a lot different than the usual education within four walls. Plan your lessons ahead of time and take into account the situation and the new challenges that come with it. Practice giving your lesson and using new tools or resources to make sure that you’re ready and that your students will have a smooth experience.
Use an engaging platform
With virtual learning, it’s going to be harder to make sure that students are participating and that they’re understanding the lesson. The key is to use an engaging platform that will allow both the teacher and the students to engage with one another. Try out a couple of apps or programs and see which is the most appropriate for your classes.
Choose the right tools and resources
Apart from the platform, you also have to consider choosing the right tools and resources for your classes. Should you use videos or images? Are you considering using a PowerPoint presentation or will you use an online whiteboard instead? Do you think a film showing would be good considering the devices and the internet your students use? Think hard about these things and consider how to best deliver the education to your students.
Utilize a free transcription service
Another strategy you can do is to utilize free transcription service. Since audio and video transcriptions provide a lot of benefits in online learning, you can utilize this kind of solution in many ways. If you have mp3s or mp4s in your lesson, you can also provide transcriptions to supplement their reading materials. For special seminars and talks, you can also provide transcriptions at the end. You can also send students the session transcriptions of the class right after, so even those who didn’t get to join the live class can catch up and learn.
Consider the emotional toll and mental state
Last but certainly not the least, you have to consider the emotional toll and the mental state of people. Being in isolation and adjusting to the new kind of situation can take a toll on everyone’s mental health. Check in with other teachers and your students from time to time, look for helpful resources or content, and share it with them, and provide any kind of support and help whenever you can.
Times like these can be difficult for everyone, but you can still help make sure that education is accessible for every student in your establishment.