Tag: remote learning

Creative Options for Remote Learning

With schools closed for in-person learning and many children being educated at home, parents are scrambling for quality alternatives that work in a home environment. One of our Ask a Tech Teacher contributors has some ideas you may not have thought of:

How to Make Remote Learning Work For Your Children

Many parents are choosing to opt-out of traditional schooling, but the question of how to create a well-rounded curriculum or who to hire for this task is often the barrier that prevents at-home learning. In this article, we’ll help you make a decision by presenting popular remote learning options or childcare resources that can support homeschooling or non-traditional approaches.

Traditional Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a progressive movement where parents educate their children instead of sending them to public or private schools. Families will choose this option for various reasons, including dissatisfaction with public education, constant relocation, or a bad social environment. 

Some of the many positives of homeschooling your children include:

  • Home-educated children score 15 to 30 percentile points higher than other students.
  • Homeschooled children get accepted by colleges at a higher rate than other students.
  • Homeschool helps children develop better social skills than their public school peers.
  • Special needs children receive a significantly higher level of education on average.
  • Adults who were homeschooled are more politically tolerant and happier on average.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but the legal requirements for this education option vary from place to place. If you’re in the process of pulling your children out of public education, you’ll need to write a letter of withdrawal to the school board that describes your intent to homeschool.

There are many curriculum options available for parents. As long as your curriculum of choice follows the requirements of your state, they can apply for college once they graduate. Parents don’t need a formal teaching degree to qualify as homeschool teachers. It may be beneficial for you to take an online course that goes over teaching fundamentals and how to run a classroom.


Tips for incentivizing your teachers team while working remotely

This is a how-to article from an Ask a Tech Teacher contributor describing clever ways to make remote teaching work. A recommended read if your remote program isn’t working as you’d hoped:

Tips for incentivizing your teachers team while working remotely

The challenges involved in working remotely are many and varied, yet arguably the most significant obstacle managers face when trying to steward teams from afar is keeping them engaged and motivated.

This is all the more significant in an educational context, because teams of teachers are in turn responsible for looking after large groups of students who need to be ushered through the twists and turns of remote learning with aplomb.

Providing the right incentives in the right way is a solution that can help overcome remote working burn-out and general disgruntlement brought about by the current climate. The following tips should help you to come up with an effective strategy to ultimately bolster job satisfaction and improve performance.

Image Source: Pixabay

Implement an incentive program

To start off with, it is worth formalizing your approach to incentivizing teachers in a remote working scenario through a program which has been developed specifically for this purpose.

While this will require a little work upfront to set the wheels in motion, once everything is in place it will become perpetually beneficial and continue to pay dividends as time passes.

You can get some program ideas from here to give you a little initial guidance. It covers everything from programs focused on rewarding the most loyal team members for their long service, to programs that encourage teamwork and collaboration between individuals and groups alike.

Most importantly, the program you select needs to be viable for those working remotely; it is no good offering perks like a gym membership to someone who will be unable to make use of it for the foreseeable future. If in doubt, implement an incentive program on a trial basis and ask for feedback from the teachers who participate to see if it can be improved or scrapped, depending on its impact.

Give them all the tools they need

There is nothing more frustrating for a remote worker than to find that the hardware, software or network connection they are using to fulfil their duties is not up to scratch. This is all the more relevant to educators, who will need to be leading lessons, seminars and one-on-one study sessions on a daily basis.

If they know that every day will be an uphill struggle as they fight to get the better of the inadequate technology that they have at their disposal at home, it is easy to see how they will become dispirited, and thus have less reason to pour their all into their job.

On the other hand, if you ensure that they have all of the tools they need to thrive while working remotely, not just scrape by, then everything else will click into place and become so much easier.

It is a good start to give them a suitably modern laptop that can cope with the rigor of running Zoom meetings, wrangling Teams catch-ups and interfacing with the cloud-powered educational resources that are vital to remote learning at the moment. However, you can also incentivize their engagement by covering the other costs that they will be accruing during this time, such as paying for a faster and more stable internet service.

This is all about demonstrating that you appreciate and understand the hurdles that teachers’ teams will need to leap over whenever they are working remotely, and moreover are prepared to do something to support them in this process.

Seek their input & provide recognition for achievements

It is difficult to know what problems remote workers are dealing with, let alone take steps to mitigate or rectify them. So rather than relying on guesswork or trial and error, it is clearly a good call to actively ask teaching teams to tell you what is causing them strife, or suggest what steps could be taken to incentivize their work even further.

There are a few ways to go about receiving this feedback, and while it might seem efficient to just call a meeting with everyone participating and get it all out of the way at once, it is necessary to remember that not all employees will feel comfortable contributing in this context.

The more successful approach involves ensuring that regular contact is kept between managers and team members on a one-on-one basis. Even if checking in frequently does not throw up problems to solve every time, teachers will value the opportunity to have this interaction and will also feel like their work is making a difference if you highlight any successes they have had or milestones they have passed.

A combination of an open door policy for feedback and a proactive approach to recognizing the hard work remote teams are putting in will go a long way to boosting morale even in the most trying of times.

Furthermore, you can use the suggestions to tweak the things that are creating friction, rather than leaving them unaltered and continuing to wear away at an employee’s psyche.

Mix things up with online learning resources & special events

One of the unique struggles for teachers when working remotely is keeping their own students interested in the courses they are participating in, and it is certainly the case that maximizing engagement is far harder outside of a bricks and mortar classroom environment.

Keeping the schedule varied and adding special events to go with the wealth of resources that are at the fingertips of teachers and students alike should serve to satisfy the needs of all parties.

From webinars with mixed groups to stop things getting stale, to full blown online events that include special guest speakers, who are recognized experts in their fields, there are lots of ways that teams of teachers can be supported and incentivized through the appropriate use of these functions.

Another benefit of doing this is that it will give teachers some much needed breathing room during their packed schedule. Being in charge of virtual lessons for extended periods is so intense that it can be very draining, so anything that can alleviate this will be welcomed.

Make sure they do not feel under pressure to get involved in everything

Last but not least, you need to be sensitive to the fact that if teachers are working remotely and spend entire days interacting with students and colleagues in a virtual environment, they may not want to stick around even longer for post-work get-togethers and the myriad other events and happenings that are quickly becoming the norm across lots of industries.

Preserving the work-life balance is harder than ever if you do not need to leave the house to fulfil your professional role, so if team members know that they can log off, close their laptop and switch their brains off in the evening, rather than feeling obligated to stay involved in some extracurricular activity or other, they will be in a better mental state when they start work the next day.

There is no doubting that managing remote teams of teachers is a bit of a high wire act, and one which will inevitably involve the odd wobble and misstep from time to time. Being willing and able to adapt to new challenges and make changes is the best way to ensure everyone can cope.


#coronavirus #remotelearning

More on #RemoteLearning

Resources You Need During #COVID19

Teaching Online During #COVID19

Teaching Online During #COVID19–More from my Inbox

#CoronaVirus–This Week’s Inbox

Teaching During #CoronaVirus–An Old Strategy That’s Perfect

10 Tips for Teaching Remotely

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

10 Tips for Teaching Remotely

I’ve been working from home for years but most people haven’t. I posted this article about a year ago but have updated it for the challenges we now face with #covid19

Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary job functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. But you do need the right equipment and setup to make that happen. Here’s what I  currently use to teach from home or can easily arrange:

    1. Have necessary apps on iPads and smartphones. This includes your LMS, virtual meeting tool, cloud accounts, email, scan, social media, and sharing.
    2. Have a digital notetaking program–Evernote, OneNote, Notability, or Google Keep for example.
    3. Wean yourself from printing hard copies. It’s easier to do than it sounds. My printer broke–well, it wouldn’t print more than one page without jamming. That made it hard to print a lot of documents. Instead, I loaded the document onto my iPad (or laptop) and interacted with it there. PDFS: I can annotate with the Edge browser or a dedicated app. Google and Microsoft docs: Easy to work with those right from the platform.  Once I’ve marked them up as needed, I can email the file, take a screenshot and share it, or do nothing (in the case of Google docs). No printing required. I am now completely used to that–would never go back to the paper-wasting approach.
    4. If you go somewhere else to work (I was going to say a coffee shop but that’s out of bounds this month), don’t use a public WiFi. Use a hot spot connected to your phone. Public WiFi like Starbucks are notoriously insecure.
    5. Be brave about solving problems associated with online work. Don’t let setbacks and roadblocks stop you. Be accountable to yourself or you won’t get stuff done. I have to say, so many of my fellow teachers are risk-takers. When this remote teaching problem was dumped in their lap, their attitudes were positive, can-do, and try to stop me!
    6. Have a virtual meeting program like MS Teams, Zoom (if your school allows it), Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Webroom.net, Big Blue Button, or another. These are for larger groups (like a book club meeting). Small group video calls work nicely with programs like Facetime, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
    7. Student collaborative groups can be addressed with a mix of Facetime on phones and the Google Doc on the digital device. Or another way–I’d love to hear how your students address this.
    8. Have backup batteries for your phone, laptop, and iPad. You’re using them a lot more than usual. They’ll run through your power more quickly than you’re accustomed to. And, videos, personal hotspots and Google Maps burn through power. What should last nine hours turns out to be two.
    9. Have redundancy where something is important. For example, my external battery charger died and my iPad ran out of juice. Since then, I purchased a redundant backup power supply.


Teaching During #CoronaVirus–An Old Strategy That’s Perfect

A problem with online teaching is that students have to sit through a long lecture-sort of presentation–if you’re trying to replicate your classroom teaching. Some good advice I see over and over regarding teaching online is DON’T try to replicate your physical classroom. Instead, teach using online’s strengths. A good way to do that is with a flipped classroom. Chris Landry, an eighth-grade science teacher at Memorial Middle School, said he’s been able to continue teaching students amid the closures through videos and has even provided them with fun activities to do at home. What made it easier? Flipped Classrooms:

“…adjusting to the new way of teaching was easier than expected because he was using a “flipped classroom” while schools were in session.

For a thorough overview of flipped classrooms, take a look at this infographic from Cool Infographics:


#CoronaVirus–This Week’s Inbox

Most of us are only a few weeks into teaching remotely. It’s still chaotic, messy, but we’re trying to make it work. We have the will, just need the way.

Lots of education companies are stepping up to make that possible. Here’s a sampling of the many and varied emails I got this past week offering help:

More Resources to teach remotely  

Remote Learning Tips 

More about COVID-19

This next shows how US school districts are managing remote teaching. Map of responses to COVID 19 from schoolspretty scary, at least to me. This updates constantly so what you see below may not be the most current. Click through:


Teaching Online During COVID-19–More from my Inbox

I am so proud of how the education community has stepped up to the challenge teachers face to continue the learning despite apocalyptic changes in the delivery system. Definitely this means teachers, administrators, parents and students, but I also include the companies and resource providers in the education ecosystem.

Here’s a sampling of the many and varied emails I got this past week offering help:

  • New Remote Learning Tools and Resources
  • How to teach remotely

New Remote Learning Tools and Resources

Zoom is also offering a free upgrade to educators to help them to teach remotely during the pandemic. Here are a few tips on using Zoom to teach remotely:


Teaching Online During COVID-19

Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging. We educators understand online learning, probably have taken classes this way, but we haven’t yet wrapped our brains around how to make it work in OUR classes. In fact, the biggest question I get from teachers in my online classes and on my blog is:

“How do I do it?”

I know–very broad–but teachers are worried. They are invested in teaching their classes and suddenly it seems impossible to meet yearly goals, build lifelong learners. What can they do to make that happen? To fulfill their personal goals of getting students excited about learning?

Here’s what I’ve heard this past week or so:

  • Issues
  • Pedagogies for distance learning
  • Curricula for online teaching
  • Links fellow teachers are using that work

These aren’t comprehensive, just what I’ve heard as most of us are only one-two weeks into this challenging education opportunity.


“The classroom teacher can’t be replaced by an electronic device.”

That’s not what happens in online teaching. The teacher is as critical or more in an online classroom as they are in the physical class. The old style of online class that was impersonally delivered has been replaced by an active teacher fully involved in the online experience. She is simply in the cloud rather than in the room.

How to I provide equity for those without computers or internet access at home is challenging?


Resources You Need During COVID-19

My inbox–probably yours, too–is flooded with suggestions, how-tos, and don’t-do’s, on teaching online as a strategy for dealing with Covid-19. Though I’m not happy about the reason, I’m thrilled at the interest in online classes. I’m an adjunct professor – online only–for a variety of major universities (CSU for one). I’ve taught many years in both environments and love online teaching because it is flexible, diversified, self-directed, and self-paced. I agree with many studies—that online is more effective (one from IBM).

As I received the onslaught of teach-online resources, I collected those that made the most sense. Below is a short curation of the most useful articles, links, resources, and webinars to help you through this challenging environment:

Online articles:

Online webinars:

One of the best I’ve watched in the last few weeks (as I dig into this subject) is Rushton Hurley’s (here’s the link). Here are some great suggestions for teachers who have to start fast with little preparation:

Here are three webinars from the knowledgeable Richard Byrne: Three Free Webinars About Transitioning to Teaching Online 

Distance Learning Strategies for Education Leaders, Part 1
Date: March 17th, 2020

Distance Learning Strategies for Education Leaders, Part 2
Date: March 20th, 2020

A short curated list of resources for teaching online:


    1. Distance Learning with Google Slides–from Alice Keeler
    2. Resources for Teaching Online–from Edublog

Online chats

    1. Adobe Connect–fully-featured with lots of options for meeting students online
    2. Google Hangouts–max. of 10-15 people
    3. Nepris–bring experts into your classes
    4. Skype
    5. Unhangouts–gather in the virtual lobby and then join a GHO

Online course sites

    1. Blackboard
    2. Canvas
    3. CourseSites–like Blackboard, but free for some set-up
    4. Iteach.world–online class platform

Virtual Classrooms/Meetings

    1. Canvas–and it’s Big Blue Button conference option
    2. Draw Chat–virtual meeting with a whiteboard
    3. Google Hangouts
    4. Webroom.net — virtual conference or meeting room
    5. Zoom

Big Questions

If you’re still with me, here are quick notes on questions I’ve gotten from fellow educators over the past week or so:

What can you as a parent do in advance?

  • Be positive, upbeat about these changes. They are good—you will grow to like them. Know the pros and cons—they are balanced, maybe even skewed in favor of online.
  • Assume the teacher will be flexible with students as they adapt to online learning.
  • Don’t give up—try, try again, and come up with a solution that works even if it isn’t perfect.
  • Let your child try to solve their problems but be there to help if they get stuck. Most online classes aren’t a virtual meeting. They’re a list of assignments, discussion boards, forums, and projects that are accomplished at the students own pace. While you’re at work, you can help your child with your own virtual meeting (via free programs like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Webroom.net) by screen-sharing their assignment page. You can even remote in without nearly as much trouble as that used to be. Your child is not in the same room as the teacher. Don’t think you must be in the same room as your child to help.
  • Know how to get in touch with the teacher (since you can’t walk in and visit their classroom). FB? Messaging? Email? What’s the best way?

What are the biggest problems I face moving my teaching online?

  • Tech knowledge–don’t give up; there are only so many problems. Once they’re solved, most of the rest of the experience will go smoothly.
  • Problems—solve these together, you and the parents. Don’t try to be perfect, just a problem-solver.

Many students don’t have a home computer or access to the internet. What do I do?

These are difficult issues and have caused many schools to resist online teaching. To meet the suddenness of the Corona-19 pandemic, some schools are lending out their extra Chromebooks and purchasing more with newly-available Federal and State funds. Many Districts are deploying mobile hotspots to help students with internet access. Where that isn’t practical, teachers send work to students as PDF files that can be viewed and annotated on a computer and then printed with student input (this is the choice made by some New Jersey schools with a high percentage of students without computers or internet connectivity).

What should students and families know before their first online session?

  • Don’t be afraid.
  • Get help if you’re stuck.
  • Be a risk-taker—boldly go where few have gone before.


In the end, it comes down to flexibility. We as educators must be mindful of the students without access to technology and provide alternative-but-equal options that adapt lessons to their circumstances. The issue of equity is one of the most important as schools move to online teaching. NEA Today will cover this in upcoming issues as this evolves.


#coronavirus #remotelearning

–also published on NEA Today

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.