Tips on helping students to study remotely

I have been working online quite a while and I can say with the confidence that students have classes for a long time with teachers who they feel comfortable with. And even if they are not used to studying online they would probably start if their teacher crosses over to teaching online. I have had students who stopped having lessons with other teachers for reasons that have nothing in common with professionalism or format of studying, but which I can summarize as ‘not comfortable’. Here, in this article, I’d like to share some ideas and tips that can help stimulate students to study remotely.

Make them try it

What is unknown is always scary. The easiest way to demonstrate that online lessons are not worse, but maybe even better than offline is to give it a try. Help the students install the necessary program (create a video-instruction, if necessary), and have a free trial lesson (it can be short — just 30 minutes). Once the student has installed the program and tried the lesson, they will see how convenient it is and might agree to continue studying remotely.

In small steps

Do not demonstrate all the variety of online instruments you have at the very first lesson. It might deter the student if they are not tech-friendly. The first thing the student needs is a video-conferencing program, so help him install it and hold the lesson, demonstrating your screen. At the next step (in a lesson or two) you can show how to use annotation app (such as Kami, — you can read more about it here), and how to access the book or other materials (on Google Drive, for instance). Later you can give the control of your mouse to the student while playing interactive games or make the student log in to Miro (read more here).

Create the atmosphere

If you’re working in Zoom, there is a nice option to set the background. So you can conduct a lesson from a virtual cafe, library or sunny beach. If you work in another program, I believe it would be of great use to have something neat and good-looking on the background: a wall with a picture, a bookshelf or a poster. It is also important so that no one walks behind you to create a feeling of privacy.

“Appropriate” look

I have been both in the role of a teacher and a student at online classes. I have had different students, and I may say that with the course of time they get used to classes and having lessons at home, and thus look home-style: bathrobes, towels on the head, T-shirts, pyjamas and so on. And it could be a bit strange (for me, at least) when a student wears a bathrobe, while a teacher is sitting in a formal suit. There should be a proper balance, and casual style (neither formal nor home-style) is the best one to create comfort — and that’s what would make the student love online classes.

Stay in touch

Many teachers say that they like working offline for the reason that there is a clear border between their work and private life. Once you’ve left the classroom you’re not involved in student’s life anymore. On the other hand, what can qualitatively improve online classes and online studying is keeping in touch outside the online classroom. You can comment on students’ postings on social networks, create a chat for your online students for communicating or sharing some useful things or websites or just exchange photos. Set the mood and the student will want to continue.

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