How best to learn online: A comprehensive list of tips and tricks to enrich the virtual classroom

With online learning set to be the norm for the foreseeable future, here are some pointers for educators to put their best foot forward in the e-learning environment
Image for representation | Pic: Pixabay
Image for representation | Pic: Pixabay

When the pandemic hit last year, our education system underwent a drastic change. While online learning is the new normal, is it the best option? Here are some points to note about the online learning 
environment for educators. 

Learning a new language is fascinating as well as equally challenging. Allow the children to act out the words. If you want students to remember something, encourage them to learn it in a variety of ways — by drawing it, acting it out or pairing it with relevant images.

Neuroscientists have studied that reading a handwritten note has more effect on the reading circuitry in children compared to the typed notes. Whenever self-generated movements are included as a learning strategy, more of the brain gets stimulated. It also appears that the movements related to keyboard typing do not activate these networks the same way that drawing and handwriting do.

Entrance exam test scores, which are often a key factor in medical college admissions, showed a weak — or even negative — relationship when it came to predicting how successful students would be in college. There is little evidence that students will have more success if they work to improve their NEET score and students with very high NEET scores — but indifferent high school grades — often burn out in college.

A simple step might help undercut the pernicious effect of grading bias. Articulate our standards clearly before we begin grading and refer to the standards regularly during the assessment process.

Students who ask good questions are better learners. Some of the most popular study strategies — highlighting passages, rereading notes and underlining key sentences — are also among the least effective. Students who studied a topic and then asked questions based on that scored an average of 14 percentage points higher on a test than students who used passive strategies, found one study. 

M S Saravanan

Based on the 2020 research for the best practices in virtual learning, it is noted that logistical issues like accessing materials and not content-specific problems like failure in comprehension were often among the most significant obstacles to online learning. Remote teachers should use a single, dedicated hub for important documents like assignments, simplify communications and reminders by using one channel like email or text and reduce visual clutter like hard-to-read fonts and unnecessary decorations throughout their virtual spaces.

As the tools are new to everyone, regular feedback on topics like accessibility and ease of use is crucial. Teachers should post simple surveys, asking questions like “Have you encountered any technical issues?” or “Can you easily locate your assignments?” to ensure that students experience a smooth virtual learning space.

In the study, young adults with no programming experience were asked to learn Python. When they took a series of tests assessing their problem-solving, Math, and language skills, the teachers discovered that mathematical skill accounted for only 2 percent of a person’s ability to learn how to code, while language skills were almost nine times more predictive, accounting for 17 percent of learning ability.

There is an ongoing debate over the teaching of intrinsic reading skills versus the teaching of content knowledge. While elementary students spend an enormous amount of time working on skills like “finding the main idea” and “summarising”, these young readers aren’t experiencing the additional reading gains. So, what works? Social Studies is the only subject with a clear, positive, and statistically significant effect on reading improvement. In effect, exposing kids to rich content in Civics, History, and Geography appeared to be more effective than our current methods of teaching reading.

The author is the head of Shrishti Schools in Vellore and also the CBSE Coordinator for Vellore district, Tamil Nadu

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