By Lindsay Thomas |
“But wait, there’s more.” It has felt to many that as soon as they’ve come to grips with one change in 2020, another one has appeared. The year of surprise navigation. For the EdTech space, this has brought many exciting and sometimes daunting navigation opportunities. Covid-19 has forced educators to embrace online learning delivery. Here are three tips to help encourage connection and facilitation in the digital learning delivery journey.
“The era of click is here to stay, and everything you try will be about continuous iteration.”
Tip 1: Recognize the Click
The digital learning environment cannot replicate the brick and mortar one. It requires some adaptation and acknowledgment of our 21st-century learners’ habits in a digital setting. These habits are things like:
- Having a short attention span
- Regularly switching tasks
- Grouping digital interests around their real-world life
- Speaking their mind in a space curated for it
- Focusing on researching areas of interest
- Getting distracted (and confused)
- Reading short pieces of text
This can be translated into building learning that keeps the following principles in mind. Make sure to keep video lengths between 15-120 seconds and use media where it’s relevant. Try switching the delivery medium every 3-10 minutes in order to improve learner engagement. Leverage peer-to-peer learning with regular learning spaces to enable students to gain knowledge from each other by tying learning to real-life scenarios and challenges. Use native learning management system (LMS) discussion boards, like Yellowdig (that simulate a social media feeling), or even video conferencing tools to enhance social interaction. Provide your learners with tasks that encourage them to pull content from various sources. Frequently over-communicate your instructions and be clear about what you want your learners to do. Finally, aim to design pages so that there is never too much visible text (e.g., accordions, drop-down lists, and sharing only need-to-know information).
Tip 2: Observe What You See (and Don’t See)
Once you’ve created your learner journey and various spaces for students to connect with you, the content, and each other, observe how your learners engage in each of those spaces, including what they say, what they hand in, what questions they ask, or instructions everyone queries and more. Learners need to know how and when they can reach out and, equally important, how to create predictability in the time it takes to respond to those queries (aim for a 24-hour turnaround). Another valuable consideration for learners is to create a space for them to connect with their learning—student reflection journals. If you decide to make these journals visible, they will offer you another angle of insight into how students’ learning journeys are progressing.
Tip 3: Experiment and Iterate
Online learning delivery allows many opportunities to explore and repeat a student’s journey based on learner engagement. Here are some ideas to try:
- Record yourself grading papers and send that to the learner
- Arrange synchronous peer-review sessions
- Assign student-led seminars
- Invite guest lecturers to attend live sessions
- Release a weekly video/audio file where you talk directly to students about what they’ll learn and be doing that week
Bonus Tip: Useful Tools
The era of click is here to stay, and everything you try will be about continuous iteration. In order to help, here are some digital tools to aid your learner development journey:
- ,,VoiceThread: This tool allows asynchronous comments from students to their peers when responding in discussion posts, presentations, and group work.
- ,Screencast-O-Matic: Record a video instruction/summary or yourself presenting a slide-pack presentation or case study.
- ,Zoom: The free version allows synchronous meetings of up to 40 minutes, whereas the pro version allows you to create breakout sessions with assigned participants and even post questions in real-time to groups.
Tools are only as good as our use of them. Once you realize what a tool is capable of, it becomes easier to design engaging learner journeys.
Continuously watch how your students choose to pull information from the learner journey you’ve created and remember to experiment—regularly! There’s always more to learn. You’ll know you have successfully navigated the journey from “brick to click” when your students tell you so.
Learning Strategist at Construct