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Virtual teaching expert shares remote learning tips for teachers and students

Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 4:57 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - From classrooms to computer screens, desks to dining room tables, education looks different this year for teachers and students.

“There’s going to be some early confusion, but people are going to settle into it,” Brian Mott, the director of Virtual Virginia, said.

He’s been working with technology-based remote education for years. While a shift to online education has been in the works for a while, COVID-19 sped up the timeline. He said we have to remember much of our lives are already spent online so now education is just following suit.

“It’s similar to the other dashboard teachers use in other facets of life, it’s just now having to incorporate that into their face-to-face instruction, or what used to be face-to-face but is now becoming blended and online.”

He advised teachers not to fear virtual teaching. A successful school year starts with your mindset going into it.

“Don’t make the mistake thinking you can’t do it,” he encouraged. “You can do it. When you really get down to it, teaching online is very similar to teaching face-to-face. It’s about communication, having relationships with students and content delivery.”

He pointed out teachers and students have already used a hybrid education system. Before the pandemic, teachers taught in person; then students did homework at home. Now the only change is in-person education is teaching through a computer education.

“Planning their lessons is the same approach. The same modalities are in play,” Mott said. “You do some things live and then students do some work on their own.”

When it comes to helping your students stay focused and motivated, Mott said daily communication is key.

“Teachers have to know where their students are,” he said. “They have to meet them and our best channel of doing that this year is doing more of that synchronized piece to keep them engaged live and coming to class on a daily basis.”

But that’s not to take away from the personal responsibility factor of the students. While online learning provides flexibility, Mott said that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

“The content and the rigor can be just the same as in a classroom,” he said.

So staying organized is vital.

“You have to have access or regular access or planned access to the internet and a computer,” Mott said.

Keeping track of assignment due dates and class schedules on an online calendar will help you plan your week.

“Make sure you log in, you check for news in your course, you check for emails, you check your due dates, you check your course updates,” Mott said.

In many ways, it’s up to the student to determine how much they learn in this new style of education.

“You have to be self-motivated, you have to be self-disciplined,” Mott encouraged. “This freedom and this flexibility will require responsibility. You have to take ownership of the learning process, you have to stay organized, you have to stay on task and you have to be independent.”

He added remote learning this fall will be vastly different than it was in the spring because there has been more time to prepare and to plan. He also said many educators he’s worked with over the summer have agreed that this kind of schooling is here to stay in some form or another, so he’s encouraging everyone to embrace the opportunities that come with virtual learning.

Click here for more tips on how to be a successful student.

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