Coronavirus: A beginners' guide to remote teaching

With colleges continuing to deliver classes remotely, Mark Beetlestone has a guide for newcomers to this digital world

Mark Beetlestone

How do you get started on teaching remotely?

Teaching remotely might seem like a scary concept. For most, it's a new experience which means doing things slightly differently.

If you are planning to teach remotely, here are some questions to be asking yourself and your colleagues in order to help to prepare.

Which platform will you use?

Ideally, use something your students are familiar with. All educational platforms have pros and cons, so do your research to make sure that you're investing time wisely. Your organisation will likely use one or more from the Google, Microsoft, Moodle, Canvas range – ensure you are using a platform that means you’ll be able to access support from your organisation.


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How can you convert your resources and activities?

If a lot of your teaching requires face-to-face delivery, how can you overcome this? Tools like Screencastify and Edpuzzle can help overcome this barrier. Creating a resource which self-marks through Microsoft Forms will save you time in the long run! You should aim to create resources which are asynchronous. This means that your learners don’t necessarily need to be there, live, in the moment to access their learning. Recording your lesson might be a great way to achieve this.

How can you quickly train your students on the tools you will be using?

I'm going to start by saying...your students have been brought up in a digital world. They should be quick to adapt to any new technology you decide to implement. My advice would be don’t expect learners to adopt a technology which you’re not on board with as their teacher. You should be able to role model good behaviours, and adoption techniques form part of this.

How will you quickly learn the new software/platform to teach remotely?

The trick here is to adopt a mindset of "start it now, perfect it later". These are unprecedented times and flexibility is key, communicate this to your students – things might not work right away, but the fact you're muddling through it together to some extent will buy a lot of favour with them. Make them comfortable knowing that this is a step into the unknown, not just for them but for every learner up and down the country. They are pioneering things that edtechies have been dreaming of, albeit in better circumstances.

How will your learners with SEND adapt to a new way of working?

My advice is to spend time making sure they are confident and able to carry out the tasks you have set for them. Communicate and recognise their barriers; help to understand what they need from a remote setting in order to achieve. Ask your organisation how learners can access extra support and what form this takes. Communicate with parents and guardians, keep them informed and alleviate any anxieties.

How will you ensure equity of access?

Not all learners may have access to the technology which you might assume they have. Have conversations early about the types of activity which they can and cannot undertake. Make sensible adjustments while you can; working remotely doesn't have to have a tech focus. Make some handouts and printouts and trackers for people to use. Make sure you know how to keep in contact with these learners.

Mark Beetlestone is technology-enhanced learning and resources manager at Fareham College

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