April 30, 2020 Chiara

Resources And Equipment Needed For Online Teaching In 2020

Your lessons are planned, your virtual classroom is live and you’re ready to teach. The only thing you have to worry about now is whether your students are prepared or not. Making sure students can access classes with ease and make the most of your lessons is paramount. Schools and parents are responsible for ensuring the student has all the supplies needed. To help, our team has compiled a list of resources, tools and equipment needed for online teaching that you can use to equip your students for learning in the time of COVID-19.   

Getting Connected

Let’s start with the basics: a functioning computer or tablet. It’s possible your school already has a scheme to distribute devices to students, in which case the necessary tools are likely in place. If your students are responsible for acquiring their own equipment, you can support them by encouraging the following: 

  1. Microphone and web-camera: most laptops (and even headphones) are equipped with a mic, but webcams can be more volatile. If anyone is struggling with a broken one, or simply atrocious quality during their video calls, you can spare them an additional expense with an easy solution. A variety of apps are available that substitute a phone for a webcam, even enhancing video quality through the use of the back camera.

2. New software & platforms: experimentation is on the rise in the digital classroom, so it’s important that students can open the array of videos, files, games, simulations, and additional media you send them. Given that not all students will have printers at home, you may also want to make use of scanning apps like Adobe Scan, which enable students to more neatly submit hand-drawn work for courses like math or art.

3. System & software updates: obvious as this may seem, the temptation to click ‘remind me later’ when an update appears is strong. Make sure that your students’ software is up-to-date so they are in the best position to access all the ingenious digital tools your school is using. Regarding software updates, make sure students are updating any important software you’re using. For example, free versions of Adobe Acrobat and Flash Players are widely used and frequently require updating.

How-to Guides

Ensuring that your students are able to use the tools you are providing is key. Google Classroom and Zoom, among others, offer their own user guides and videos, but you may want to give your students a more personalized experience by creating a video tutorial yourself. This can be done very easily. First, you have to understand how to use the platform. Then you can simply screen record yourself (with a voice over), progressing from step one to the end. We have created a step by step guide on how to screen record using windows 10 and mac (version #?). It may take a little extra time, but students will undoubtedly be glad to hear your voice as you teach from home. 

Organization and Focus

Now that your students have both the access and the knowledge necessary to thrive in your virtual classroom, it might be tempting to call it a day. Not quite. As you have undoubtedly learned from long afternoons in the classroom, learning requires concentration—an often scarce resource! Given the sudden need to adapt to a home environment replete with distractions, it’s understandable if students have a hard time focusing, particularly the younger ones. Fortunately there are still habits and resources that your institution can recommend to make this transition a bit smoother.

  1. Clean your study space! A clean space is a clean mind.

Even something as simple as transforming a table into a desk or re-arranging a device and notebook can make the school day more manageable. If students are competing for space with siblings or parents, suggest they buy a card table. You could also follow the lead of some schools right now and ask your students for images of their home set-ups to share on social media. This will keep your school community connected while simultaneously encouraging good organization. Our social media team is here to assist any of you proactive schools already adjusting to online teaching. It’s crucial for you to document everything and share on your website and social media.

2. Plan on paper. As James Joyce once said, “no pen, no ink… no quiet, no inclination.” Keep things old school.  

Making sense of various notifications and communication from teachers can get confusing. One way to navigate this is to urge students to write everything down—due dates, video conferencing times, etc—in their planner or on a wall calendar. Unlike an online calendar, a physical copy won’t contribute to their digital clutter. You could even help them out by creating a downloadable template for them to print or copy by hand. 

3. Limit social media distractions. It takes approximately 23 minutes to regain focus.This is a huge problem for anyone with a phone connected to a zillion apps. Ironically, app developers have come to the rescue on this one. There now exist countless applications and plug-ins that block time-sucking sites for a timeframe you select. Mindful Browsing and StayFocusd are browser extensions that discourage or limit time spent on selected sites, while Freedom can block them entirely across all your devices. If your students are struggling to refrain from scrolling through Instagram until the end of the day, this may be one to recommend (to their parents).

Extra Resources For Online Teaching

Learning difficult material often requires reinforcement, as well as taking different approaches in explaining the concepts. Although one-to-one conferencing and student collaboration are certainly to be encouraged, turning to teachers and classmates for a quick clarification is no longer as easy as it was in a physical classroom. To fill those gaps, it’s important to introduce additional resources to certain students and their parents. UNESCO provides a concise list of self-directed learning sites, including old standbys like Khan Academy and Quizlet.

The ideal roadmap to virtual learning will take time to perfect, but you will definitely benefit your students by offering extra support and clear guidance as you implement new strategies and technology. Once you’ve covered the essentials needed for online teaching, you will be in a great position to explore a wider range of creative materials.  

On our end, we are trying to provide the best possible advice and services for schools during this time. If you are interested in sourcing equipment for remote teachers, you can click here to take a look at a related blog post by eco-reusable.

If you have any feedback or requests, please get in touch. Until then, best of luck to you!