A Rocky Year for In-Person Classes

As the fall season approaches, many educators are faced with another year of uncertainty regarding in-person classes. Educational institutions were forced to scramble in early 2020 amid the coronavirus outbreak. More than a year later, the world is still adjusting to a new “normal”. Some schools are returning to in-person classes, some are in the midst of making decisions, and some have opted to remain virtual.

According to BestColleges, 78% of high school and college students reported educational disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic. This leads to increased stress for parents, teachers, and students. The recent spike in COVID-19 variants has schools continue to question if it’s safe returning to in-person classes.

Teacher preparing for in-person classes

We’ve put together some helpful tips for replacing in-person classes with virtual learning to help educators transition smoothly and less stressful.

Important Tips When Replacing In-Person Classes

Table of Contents

  1. Re-Evaluate Course Pace and Materials
  2. Adapt Collaboration
  3. Accountability
  4. Class Resources
  5. Try to Not Stress

Re-Evaluate Course Pace and Materials

Transitioning from the classroom to virtual learning is not as simple as putting instructional materials online. A major misstep in transitioning to online learning is the pace at which students will learn. The absence of a physical teacher in the classroom can be a challenge for learners, regardless of their age. That is why it is crucial to understand the pace of an online course and adjust accordingly.

Take inventory of all your learning materials and list what skills are essential to your student’s learning. Get a sense of how much time each course, lesson, quiz, etc take to better allocate resources. Keep in mind students will likely need more time to review the course material before moving on.

Break Lessons into Smaller Chunks

Giving students a large chunk of information will cause more harm than good. Today’s learners do not have the attention spans of previous generations. Splitting large pieces of course content giving students a better chance to grasp the information before continuing.

  • An important question to ask yourself in the planning process is what aspects of your course(s) require synchronous instruction (with a teacher) and asynchronous (without teacher instruction)?

Breaking up course material can leave room for supplemental learning, including in-depth review and practice assignments.

Course Design

Design your LMS course to best suit your learner’s needs. User experience (UX/UI) is crucial to a student’s success. They need to be able to easily navigate through your site and locate proper lessons, quizzes, and assignments. Structuring courses with explicit, step-by-step instructions is one of the easiest ways to replicate the absence of in-person classes and instruction.

Incorporating aspects like a teacher block in your LMS site helps connect teachers to their students. The student-teacher relationship is reliant on students knowing who their teachers are and vice versa. Designing your course to best serve learners leads to better results and less stress as an instructor.

Adapt Collaboration

Pieces of a puzzle

The absence of in-person classes has left a major aspect of the learning process; peer-to-peer collaboration. Students need to be able to interact with each other to better understand the course material. In a report published by Carnegie Mellon University, positive group experiences have been shown to contribute to student learning, retention, and overall success. Special LMS plugins allow you to easily create teams and facilitate a positive learning environment.

Incorporate Student Interests and Experiences

When planning out group work for students, keep in mind their interests and how best to relate the material to them. One easy tactic is allowing learners to pick their own course reading material. This engages students and gives them an active role in their learning. The age-old method of everyone reading the same textbook does not need to carry into eLearning.

Accountability

A common problem among the online learning community is accountability. The lack of an in-person instructor can make accountability of students difficult. However, there are certain resources and tools you can use to assist with keeping track of students.

Take Attendance

Attendance for online learning was a popular target for pop culture throughout 2020. Keeping a regular account of learners is much simpler than it may seem. Utilize popular video plugins like Zoom and Google Meet to view attendance reports and see who was there and who was not.

Some of the other methods to take attendance are:

  • Have students complete a short quiz at the beginning and end of each session. This method allows you to monitor which learners are tardy and who leaves early.
  • Ask questions to random students to see who is present.
  • Utilize group work and assignments to view who is participating.
Little girl video conferencing for school

Proctor Quizzes and Exams

Arguably one of the most difficult aspects of in-person classes to replace is proctoring quizzes and exams. Today’s technologically advanced age has given us the ability to look any answer up online. The lack of not visually monitoring learners can leave a lot of room for cheating.

Use timed quizzes/exams to only accept submissions during a specific time window. A shorter time-lapse reduces the time a learner has to look the answer up online. For major tests and exams, the option to live proctor is likely the best option. Video conferencing allows instructors to live-monitor learners for any suspicious activity.

Class Resources

Transitioning from in-person classes to online learning gives the opportunity to try multiple different resources to better equip learners.

Messaging platforms like Slack allow instructors to create groups and form small-group chats to facilitate peer-to-peer learning.

Use a cloud-based drive to allow students the ability to share notes, presentations, spreadsheets, and other documents with one another.

Subjects like math require a lot of demonstration and step-by-step instruction, especially for complex problems. Utilize an online whiteboard to display difficult problems in a setting that resembles in-class instruction.

Most Important Tip: Try to Not Stress!

A survey released by the research firm RAND reported in June 2021 that 3 out of 4 teachers reported elevated stress levels compared to the other working population. Elevated stress levels can lead to other conditions such as depression, fatigue, anxiety, among others.

Teacher stressed during an in-person class session

Transitioning from in-person classes to online learning may seem intimidating at first. It is important to maintain a positive attitude for not only your learners but yourself. Prioritizing your learning materials and having a developed strategy can take away a lot of headaches associated with starting online courses. Investing in a quality learning management system like LearnDash offers step-by-step instructions to get your course materials online in an easy-to-understand format.

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