With problem, comes opportunity and hence, innovation. This is exactly what the COVID outbreak proved to be. In such a brief time, the education sector has undergone a major transformation. As a result, concepts such as Remote learning, Online learning, and Distance learning got popular amongst learners and educators.
While the terms may sound similar to new listeners, however, there are subtle yet prominent differences between these various types of learning. While one can think of remote learning as a sub-category of online learning, it is specific concerning recreating the traditional in-class experience virtually.
Remote learning has further two types:
Asynchronous learning - This particular category focuses on individual-centric learning. Participant has greater freedom in accessing the course content and they can set up their own schedules. Hence, it is more suitable for busy professionals. Moreover, this technique focuses on building individual comprehension skills. People access pre-recorded lectures and learn at their own pace. And once in a while interact with the instructors.
Synchronous learning - On the other hand, this category emphasizes teamwork and happens in real-time in the form of cohorts. Participants engage similarly to traditional classrooms, just, virtually.
The two types have their own distinct advantages and use. It is not possible to pick one over the other as the two cater to different audiences.
While remote learning has revolutionized education, there are arguably some limitations of the method as well. Since it requires the internet and computers, not everyone can access it. Albeit, such a limitation of accessibility is true in the cases of all methods of education.
Benefits of remote learning
Greater learning control
With such a learning methodology, students have greater access to the learning material which they can explore on their own. Moreover, they can work at their own pace which was near to impossible with the traditional learning style. With such flexibility, learners also feel more confident as they feel a sense of control over their lives.
Hence, it is the complete opposite of the typical and ineffective cookie-cutter style of learning whereby students mold per an ideal archetype. This particular model focuses on sharpening individual potentials instead.
As a consequence of the COVID pandemic, people have become more conscious of accessibility to things such as work and education. Now, it is more about convenience rather than sticking to norms. Hence, people seem to prefer remote working and learning over traditional working methods.
With this particular method, one simply has to log into their respective accounts and learn from the comforts of their spaces. No need to waste hours commuting to and fro between places, when one can access the same thing at home.
Can revisit the content anytime
The thing about this learning mechanism is that all the learning material is uploaded online and students get to have permanent access to it. Hence, one can go back and revise the contents anytime they need to refresh their memory. In this way, learning becomes an ongoing process rather than a one-time session.
Fosters soft-skill growth
Since this sort of learning takes place online, it requires one to familiarize themselves with technology too. In a way, it educates the learners on their respective subjects and also enriches them with technological soft skills. Given the age we live in, one must know at least the basics of such things.
7 essential strategies for effective remote learning
1. Use team-building exercises
To ensure greater and effective interpersonal communication, include team-based activities. Besides making the class fun, it will also teach students to trust and rely on each other. You can use informal activities to promote team-building beyond just classroom learning. It is a fundamental life skill.
Some of the ways you can incorporate collaborative teaching techniques are simulations, brainwriting, the jigsaw method, etc. Here is a good resource on collaborative techniques for remote learning instructors to use in their classes.
2. Be flexible!
Do away with firm guidelines and criteria. Instead, make individual modules and evaluative processes for different courses and varying audiences. Moreover. let students invest in determining the course content and structures so the application proves to be more effective and specific.
Also, be flexible in terms of catering to the individual learning requirements of the participants. If a particular teaching strategy proves ineffective for some students, then consult them and together find a viable solution.
3. Incorporate technology with education
one of the main focuses of remote learning is emphasizing the use of technology. This is why it is advisable to use new and innovative learning tools. They will prove educational as well as are the need of the hour too. For better management and convenience, use tools such as Zoom, Google Classroom, Slack, etc.
However, using multiple tools simultaneously can be a hassle when one has to remember so many passwords and logins. Instead, get an LMS such as Teachfloor that combines all these essential tools in one place for hassle-free use.
4. Don't complicate things
The simpler the better. Therefore, keep the content and structure easy to follow. That way it will also be easy to deliver and manage for the instructor. A great way to make things simpler is by applying the 'drip method'. This is to deliver the information in bite-size sections or modules that students can pick up easily and retain longer.
Moreover, use tiny and fun pop-quizzes at the end of each module instead of tedious comprehensive exams that contribute nothing towards learning but stress students out.
5. Include everyone
Make sure to get everyone to participate in the activities. It can be especially tough to get shy students to participate more freely. Encourage them and give them incentives to participate more. A great way is to differentiate roles and tasks that students can voluntarily opt for and feel comfortable performing. Also, make the participants give constructive feedback on each others' work. This will make them more comfortable independently sharing their thoughts.
6. Compare and analyze
Make sure to measure the effectiveness of the courses by taking note of the before and after performance of the participants. Seek feedback from time to time to determine how well they are learning and whether they would want any changes. Include them in the process of structuring the course. They should have an equal say in the process as they are the ones on the receiving end. Make timely adjustments by evaluating the performance to optimize the learning.
7. Conduct diagnostic tests
Diagnostic tests are conducted to measure the baseline knowledge of the participants at the beginning of the course. As the name suggests, these tests work by pinpointing the primary pain points. They are a handy way of determining the potential objectives and outcomes for the course.
Remote learning has combined quality learning with convenience. Learning cannot get any better than this. Together with these essential strategies, you can easily trump any problems and effectively engage with your students.