Continuous Learning

COVID-19 has forced mass school closures and a transition to remote learning. We are here to help.

As the number of positively-confirmed cases of the Coronavirus worldwide tops 500,000 and rises with no end in sight—with experts continuing to predict 40-70% of the global population will contract COVID-19—social distancing safety responses have heightened in scope and intensity. In the education world, this has meant a dramatic shift towards remote learning solutions for schools.

It’s crucial that schools transition to remote learning that supports the school’s ethos; its mission and vision as we try to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus by staying home. But you’ve probably noticed: remote learning and teaching is remarkably different to face to face learning and teaching. To make it productive and easy, you’ll need to be equipped with the right resources. Below, is a list of free tools and solutions that will take you and your students as smoothly as possible through this transition.

4 Remote Teaching Apps to Help Enhance Your Productivity

No matter what role you play in your school, you’ll find something in this list that will help keep your productivity going strong while you might be working from home during this global pandemic.

Resourceful Teachers Working From Home

More than ever, it’s really important to be productive so that your class can still function in a healthy way and contribute to everyone. These next four free tools will prove highly effective for helping you stay on top of all your teaching with the 21st-century apps, arming you with quick remote teaching techniques for seamless remote learning communication.

1. Screencast Recording 

In a decentralized learning environment, the majority of communications take place on cloud-based Learning Management System platforms like Blackboard, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or Edmodo. These apps have been wonderful advances for in class connectivity. Unfortunately, they can be distracting hubs of overly text-based communication where important information can slip through the cracks, get buried, or just get misunderstood. In order to clarify your communications, use Screencast Recording apps like LOOM / Screencastify / OBS to create original, clear, and targeted information to your own students. (See some examples on my YouTube Channel.)

2. Nimbus Screenshot 

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. When Teaching remotely, you’ll need your communication to pack a punch. Another highly effective tool to do exactly that are screenshot tools. My favorite at the moment is Nimbus Screenshot tool, once downloaded and installed this Chrome extension, click a button and you’ll be taken to a separate tab with your screenshot where you can annotate it.

Options include writing text; drawing attention to certain sections with colorful rectangles and arrows; using pencil or paintbrush tools; pixelating any section to hide images or information; adjusting image quality; and cropping. This one is gonna be your friend now.

3. Meeting Scheduler for Gmail

In a recent statement, the Director of the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Nancy Messonnier offered that “businesses can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options.” She’s right. But without an easy way to schedule meetings, this can easily turn into an overload of requests on different communication channels. Worse, if you’re not used to this, you might double-book yourself.

Request that someone schedule an appointment with you on your Google calendar. Using CloudHQ Meeting scheduler connects with your google calendar and allows you to set your meeting parameters, your request will appear as a text hyperlink in the email you’re writing. When your recipient clicks that link, they’ll see a list of possible meeting times and can choose one. You’ll get a notification of the meeting time and so will they.

We’ll be doing a lot of conferencing in the near future. Make the scheduling easy.

4. Assessment and Feedback

On the flipside of pushing out communication, it’s important to also seek feedback from students and families. Fortunately, we have in our hands a plethora of great apps that will seamlessly integrate into our platforms. For Formative Assessment, I use Formative regularly to make my students thinking visible and to enable immediate feedback. Another great tool for summative assessment and surveying the emotional wellbeing of our students and families is Google Forms. If your school is using Chromebooks you can even help to keep students focused while they take quizzes and tests. When students take a quiz in locked mode, they won’t be able to browse other websites or open any other apps.  

The team at Google recently made a suggestion that many closed schools are already trying out. Using Google Forms, create mood check-ins for students to share their emotional state on a daily basis. Within the Form, students can request a conference with the teacher if they need extra support.

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