• The 5Es of eLearning

    • Empathize - Connect with your students - this is more challenging in an online setting.

    • Explain - Give clear explanations and directions.

    • Excite - Spark an interest; don't just share content.

    • Engage - Get students to interact with what you have shared with them.

    • Evaluate - Assess their understanding & promote reflection

  • Strategies for Educating Online


    ISTE Strategies for Implementing Online Learning

    1. Establish daily schedules.

      Expectations should be clear about when teachers and students need to be logged on. A full day in front of a screen is a lot for kids and teachers, especially for families who may be sharing one device. Many schools are choosing two check-in times – a morning meeting and an afternoon check-in – and then allowing families flexibility about how they organize the at-home school schedule.

      Other schools are reorganizing the school schedule, by spreading one school day over two days. Students attend three classes in the morning and have the afternoons to work independently and interact with those teachers during “office hours.” The next day, they attend the rest of their classes online in the morning and then have office hours with those teachers in the afternoons.

      Sometimes it can be difficult to anticipate the roadblocks that students might face while navigating this new territory. Nadine Bailey, teacher librarian and technology integrator at the Western Academy of Beijing, suggests picking one student per grade and monitoring their "expected" path throughout the day from tool to tool to make sure everything is working as it should. If not, be flexible and make changes along the way.

      It can be trickier handling specialty classes like PE, robotics or art. Adam Hill is a blogger and teacher at Victoria Shanghai Academy in Hong Kong, which has been closed since Jan. 22 and began offering remote learning on Feb. 5.

      Hill's school found that students were struggling to make time each day for specialist instruction so they decided to allocate one day per week for all elective activities.

    2. Provide robust learning.

      In extreme circumstances like an impromptu closure, it’s tempting for teachers to upload worksheets for students to complete and return. But online earning during a closure – especially during extended closures – should be at least as engaging as the classroom experience (if not more) or students will suffer.

      Educator Alison Yang developed an online learning guide, which stresses that online learning should never be an excuse to assign busy work, but rather to address clear engaging learning objectives. Bailey, the Beijing teacher-librarian, adapted Yang's guide into one for parents to help them understand the objectives.

      For key principals that ISTE recommends are:
      • Break learning into smaller chunks.
      • Be clear about expectations for online participation.
      • Provide immediate (or at least frequent) feedback through online knowledge checks, comments on collaborative documents and chat to keep students motivated and moving forward.
      • Include virtual meetings, live chats or video tutorials to maintain a human connection.

      Chow's leadership team in Beijing met virtually to design an online learning plan, which included training for video production and other tools, online learning pedagogy as well as social-emotional training

      She stressed that the community will need time to adjust. Provide manageable and achievable goals to work on each week, listen to feedback and communicate frequently, she says.

    3. Design independent learning.

      Keep in mind that parents might either be at work or working from home and unable to help much. It’s important to design learning that does not require a lot of support from parents who might already be overwhelmed.

      Lowe, the parent from Washington state, said expectations about parental support might be the biggest issue for him and his wife. Providing guidance for parents on how they can be supporting their kids in an online learning model is also helpful.

      “It feels similar to homeschooling right now,” Lowe said. “The biggest challenge is parents supervising what their kids are supposed to be doing and at what time.

      Lowe acknowledges that his family is lucky. He’s a consultant who can work from home and his wife is a teacher, so they are available to pitch in. Not all parents will be able to cope as easily, especially those with small children who can’t work from home.

      “One of the best things our schools have done to support parents is streamlining information by creating one place for all the assignments, schedules and expectations,” he said. “The closer to a checklist you can make these resources, the better.”

    4. Address the emotional toll.

      Check in with students and coworkers, especially those who are less comfortable with digital tools to see if they need any help or someone to talk to. Being sequestered at home can be isolating and exacerbate the fear of dealing with a global crisis. Taking time to check in about feelings of anxiety is just as important as checking on academics.

      In his guide to online learning, Rushton Hurley, an ISTE member and founder of Next Vista for Learning, shares a story from expat teachers in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus. After weeks of largely being confined to their apartments, teachers began calling each other and leaving the lines open, even if they weren't talking. They simply wanted the comfort of being able to speak up and have someone hear their voices. If a closure lasts for a long time, you will miss your students, and they will miss you and each other, Hurley said.

      While it may seem fun to work from home, it can be challenging to keep to a regular schedule. Some things that can help include:
      • Take regular breaks.
      • Making time to exercise.
      • Keep to a regular sleep schedule.
      • Limit distractions when possible (turn off social media notifications, for example).
      • Set daily and weekly goals.
      • Make time to socialize, even if it’s virtually.

    5. Choose the right tools and stick with them.

      A wide variety of technology tools, many free, are available to help. Jason Reagin, edtech consultant and teacher in Incheon, South Korea, has put together a Wakelet of apps offering free upgrades during the global crisis.

      With so much out there, it can be tempting to try to use everything. Instead, limit the number of tools, apps and platforms so students and their parents are not overwhelmed.

      It may be a little harder for students to follow classroom assignments when you are not there face to face. Some ideas from Arizona State University for helping kids focus are using different colored fonts on-screen to help learners distinguish important ideas. Try to keep online instructions short, simple and clear. Consider making video instructions instead of text.

      Videoconferencing will take you and your students into each other's homes so it's important to consider privacy. Some programs let users blur your background. Dress as you would for attending school and expect students to do the same.

      Online learning also presents a great opportunity to review digital etiquette and embed digital citizenship into online collaboration activities.