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6 min read
How to Transfer from the Classroom to Online Learning

During and in the aftermath of the pandemic, online learning became a necessity for many college and university classrooms. From necessity, however, was born innovation and a new focus. In many cases, online learning options offered a better way to learn than traditional educational strategies. Online classes offer more flexibility and convenience to many students. They cut down on time spent on campus, help reduce the anxiety that can crop up in the classroom, and make it easier for many learners to take courses at their own pace. 

Moving from an in-person class to an online environment, however, has offered its unique challenges to many students and professors alike. Teachers’ priorities must undergo a strategic change, and teachers and students must use new online tools and software to help them achieve their goals. Are you ready to make the switch to online learning? Consider these key elements of your new classroom. 

Create an inclusive culture.

Classroom culture is a critical indicator of student success, especially when it comes to students with disabilities or minority students. In an online learning environment, it’s crucial to ensure that all students have an equal ability to learn and engage in the classroom–and that, as much as possible, you eliminate barriers that might stand in their way. This may mean:

Utilizing Both Visual and Auditory Communications

Some students learn best by hearing information. Others learn best by seeing it. In an online classroom, you need to utilize delivery methods that will allow students to absorb information in the method and style that works best for them. In a traditional classroom, you might use a presentation to provide visual information alongside an auditory explanation of the content. In a virtual classroom, you may want to present lectures in a format that allows students to see your face and watch the presentation at the same time. 

Removing Communication Barriers for Students

In an online classroom, students have fewer opportunities to communicate and connect. Instead of faces in a classroom who naturally interact with one another as they take their seats or walk out of the classroom at the end of a session, they become names on a screen. As a result, they’re less likely to connect with one another naturally.

Using the right classroom communication platform, however, can remove many of those barriers and make it easier for students to interact with one another. Pronto, for example, allows for simple student communication directly within the classroom environment. It also offers video chat options that allow students to see each other’s faces, which can help enhance connection. 

Some students may also face communication barriers due to language differences. Pronto helps address those issues by making translation readily available to students who need it–which can help many learners from different countries and cultures connect more readily with the classroom environment. 

Design a connected learning environment. 

A connected learning environment brings together students and professors in a way that helps enhance overall learning and prepare students for success. In a traditional classroom, students are naturally connected. They see one another face-to-face. They have the chance to talk to professors directly at the beginning or end of class in an unobtrusive way. Connection naturally occurs through communication within the classroom, from student answers to questions to student-focused discussions.

On a digital learning platform, on the other hand, you must use the right tools and take advantage of the right opportunities to create that sense of connection. 

Create small breakout sessions.

Allow students the opportunities to work together in small groups during part of their class time, whether they’re working on a collaborative project or simply engaging in discussion about the material at hand. In large digital settings, some students, especially those who are naturally more timid, can fall through the cracks. Others may naturally overpower the discussion, especially if they have powerful opinions and great technology that allows them to easily remain connected. By moving students into smaller breakout sessions, on the other hand, you can encourage everyone to communicate, share, and collaborate, which will naturally help them feel more connected. 

Make time for specific connections with students.

You offer office hours to your in-person students. With virtual students, it becomes doubly important to make sure that you have available office hours and communication options that will make it easier for them to connect with you. Consider offering office hours immediately before or after classes so that students will have an easier time connecting with you, since many students may schedule online learning classes during times that work more effectively for their schedules.

In addition, consider scheduling one-on-one conferences with students throughout the semester. Give them a chance to connect directly with you and let you know about any challenges they may face so that you can address those problems and help students meet their goals. Isolation is one of the biggest challenges students face in virtual classrooms. By connecting deliberately with your students, you can enhance their learning opportunities and make them feel more involved with the class.

Create collaboration opportunities for students.

Virtual students can participate in group projects just like in-person students. More importantly, they can work collaboratively: learning and designing together while producing their own projects and work for evaluation. Create those collaboration opportunities for students. Utilize a classroom platform where students can easily connect with each other both during class hours and outside of class. Pronto, for example, makes it easy for students to communicate with others in the classroom, including sending messages between students. It also allows for the creation of task lists, which can let students know what they need to turn in and when–and help them break down collaborative assignments so that everyone does their part. 

Use video messaging to create a face-to-face connection with students. 

You can use video chat options to connect more directly with students during office hours or when students need to have a conversation. Video messages, however, also offer an excellent opportunity to connect with your students. Send virtual messages that let your students know that you’re thinking of them, to provide feedback, or to let them know about upcoming deadlines or needs. Often, those video messages will serve as a gateway to a more connected classroom, since your messages to your students will help them feel more confident in reaching out to you. 

Provide ongoing, useful feedback throughout the semester.

Don’t let feedback and communication slide in your online learning classroom. Virtual students may have more trouble comparing their work to classroom and other student standards than students in a traditional classroom. Not only that, they may feel as though they get less feedback, especially if they’re in a large classroom setting. By providing ongoing feedback over the semester, you can help students improve their skills and grow their confidence. 

Enhance student engagement.

Monitoring student engagement in an online classroom is often more challenging than monitoring students in a physical classroom. Physical students give you immediate feedback about your lessons. You can see whether they are engaged and paying attention or if they’re doodling in their notes, staring blankly into space, or taking care of another task entirely.

Virtual students, on the other hand, could be doing anything with their time. Many students will choose to connect to the classroom with an audio-only connection, rather than displaying video. They may even simply turn the lecture on, then go about other tasks in their day. To enhance engagement, you must use the right tools and strategies to help students get interested, excited, and connected. 

Encourage students to learn through action.

Provide opportunities for students to test out their learning. You may want to use breakout sessions or put together projects that students can get hands-on with as they learn new concepts. 

Offer regular opportunities for collaboration.

Don’t spend your virtual class sessions lecturing your students. While a online learning lecture format is a great way to convey a great deal of information quickly, it can also lead to students checking out–especially when they’re on the other side of a screen. When you invite students to spend time collaborating with one another, on the other hand, they’re more likely to engage deeply with the material being presented–and to check-in, pay attention, and continue learning. 

Invite students to give feedback or connect throughout the class session.

Ask questions. Invite feedback. Have classroom discussions. You may want to offer chat options as well as inviting students to communicate through their video technology. The more you interact directly with the students–and more importantly, encourage participation from them–the more you’ll find that they engage with your content and your class. 

Online learning presents a unique set of challenges–and as many colleges and universities choose to make the model a regular part of their curriculum offerings, it becomes increasingly important for teachers to use the right tools to aid in student engagement. Pronto can help you achieve your goals. Set up a free demonstration today to learn more about how Pronto can help enhance your virtual environment.