Online learning is not a new thing in the academic world. In the past, its advantages were often utilized to reach students who were enrolled in distance learning programs. Somewhat a norm, virtual learning was promoted often among post-graduate students, as they were seen as “more mature” and could handle the responsibilities involved in absorbing the program’s courses delivered remotely. Also, a “campus setup” was believed to be as integral to the primary, secondary, and tertiary education experience. Online education was merely seen as an alternative.
Not anymore. What was practiced in decades could drastically change in a couple of years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today, educational institutions are scrambling on how to train their faculty, improve their ed tech infrastructure, and orienting students on how to get the best out of online learning. When it comes to subject matters like coding or app development, virtual learning is a welcome development as more learners can take part in the classes.
Moving forward, online education now looks like it’s going to be a part of the academic experience. It could be practiced in its entirety, or play a more complementary role to on-campus learning. Whatever the case, the case for virtual learning is now stronger than ever.
Understandably so, today’s parents come from a generation where most, if not, all learning was done in school. As a guide to help understand the challenges of online learning, here are a few tips for parents to equip them to be better “partner educators” at home.
One of the most important things to note is to create a conducive space for learning. Parents need to realize that virtual learning shouldn’t be a lesser learning experience for their children. Some of the strengths of education delivery in classrooms as compared to bedrooms are the former’s keen attention to free the venue of possible distractions. Students are seated in rows, all facing the teacher in front. Sometimes, the lesson is accompanied by audio-video presentations to help the students retain their focus. But generally speaking, classrooms were built to optimize group learning.
At home, students should also have a similar space free from distractions and conducive to learning. A student’s study space should also be free from clutter and well-lit, as students usually go online live on camera for online classes.
Schools are seen as places where discipline is taught, practiced, and enforced. Students are expected to treat others with respect and conduct themselves professionally. At home, it may be easy for students to forget some of the rules which make learning a holistic experience. Parents can help enforce discipline such as proper times of study and lesser idle time spent on social media, among other things.
Because students who are undergoing online learning may veer off course due to the familiar aspects of home, it may be helpful to try and learn more about a student’s course outline, the work that is expected of him or her, and try to help him or her accomplish the task in a set period of time. For instance, coding tasks may not necessarily have a set schedule, but it’s good to be responsible when it comes to time management. It’s like helping with homework again. Except this time, all work is homework.
For students and their experience with online education, there is a real temptation to slack off or put off important work for the next hour or day. In school, educators are taught to put a focus on the best “transitions.” This means, a child can go on from one activity to the next seamlessly. Parents can help define “school hours” at home so as to optimize virtual learning. On the other hand, some students may be studying too much. Parents can help identify hours for rest and rejuvenation.
This may be the hardest when it comes to tips for parents and their children’s online learning: Set an example. Reward good habits and avoid poor ones. It’s hard to influence a person to stay off YouTube when people on the other side of the room are busy watching YouTube videos themselves. When it comes to online learning, it helps if parents themselves show their kids that they are somehow one in their journey and that they are dependable “home educators” should problems or questions about a particular subject arise.
Parent’s Guide to Distance Learning. ACS International Schools. Retrieved from https://www.acs-schools.com/parents-guide-distance-learning
Cornwall, G. (2020, August 25) Evidence-Backed Ways Parents Can Think Like a Teacher to Improve Virtual Learning. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/a33608758/virtual-learning-tips-for-parents/
Persaud, R. (2014, September 8) Why Learning Space Matters. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-learning-space-matters-ramona-persaud
Hemmeter, M.L. (2008, May) Planning Transitions to Prevent Challenging Behavior. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved from https://www.mbaea.org/media/documents/Young_Children__May_2008_Transition_06611DCA084CF.pdf