eLearning 101: First Things to Know
eLearning could simply be defined as any learning that takes place online. It can be an effective way to deliver and assess instruction using blended learning or a flipped classroom, and many people take 100% online courses for credit or to continue professional growth.
In the near future with our current situation, eLearning just may need to be a primary method of instructional practice. The good news is that learning can still be high-quality, student-centered, engaging, and collaborative!
Virtual Learning Considerations
Here are some considerations for teachers preparing to transition to eLearning for secondary students:
- online spaces are purposefully designed and managed by teachers
- the timing and place of learning shift; discover ways to handle synchronous and asynchronous learning along with face-to-face/live and recorded options to deliver instruction
- strategies will focus on areas like content curation, communication, feedback, and digital assessment
- collaboration, connection, and creativity can happen in virtual classrooms
- connectivity, device availability, and staying digitally organized are unique considerations when students are at home/off campus
Secondary eLearning and Online Resources
Video and Conferencing Resources
Online Content for Grades 7-12
Additional eLearning Resources
Start by thinking about what you want students to do to show evidence of their learning (begin with the end in mind), then consider the content you need to deliver, resources you want to share, and potential ways you might interact with students. Gather your files, slides, links, PDFs, etc that will be shared with students and then type or record (screencast) the instructions so students will know what steps to take. It may be easiest to design a whole unit from beginning to end - introduction, instructions, learning objectives, content, activity instructions, assessment, summary - then assign portions of the unit each day or give deadlines for when students should have sections completed.
Plan to include purposeful ways for students to interact with the content since they won't be in class - independent activity or challenge, a small group discussion or project, digital journal entry or blog post, case study, or a short essay.
After students watch a video or screencast of your instruction, give them a way to respond and interact with a virtual discussion/chat, blog post, or digital journaling. Of course a worksheet can be digitally distributed and uploaded to turn in, but consider ways to get students collaborating and discussing the content to increase understanding and engagement. Digital formative assessments don't have to be graded, but they can give useful feedback to students and teachers; try a Google form, an EdPuzzle, Quiz in Canvas, or Nearpod. Challenge students to think critically with a real-world case study and follow up with a live synchronous chat or video conference like a Google Meet. Virtual field trips can enhance learning for students and there are many available for free (see Virtual Tours for Secondary).
TIP: No matter what activity you assign to students, make sure directions are clear and concise. It helps to have numbered steps and specific details about what the activity is and what students need to do or turn in.
A screencast is a short video recording of your computer screen and usually includes voice narration. It can be an engaging way for teachers and students to communicate content, directions, and ideas asynchronously. Students and parents can replay and pause the video to best understand and retain the information. Videos are easy to share or distribute in Canvas, Google Classroom, via email, or other online presence.
I recommend trying Screencastify on a PC or Chromebook, but there are other apps useful on an iPad if that is your device preference.
Want a quick way to start? Install the Chrome extension for Screencastify, open a Slide or Doc on your touchscreen Chromebook, and create a brief outline of what you will say or show. If you get stuck, click the PAUSE button to stop the recording. Use a stylus or your finger to work out a math problem on the blank slide. Or explain a topic or graph on the page to help students understand. Short video means 3-5 minutes, so record video in portions if needed.