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At A Distance Quickly

For Those Times When You Need To Get Your Classroom Online

It takes innovative thinking for a school and its teachers to shift to online course work, but there are good models for it and many schools are prepared.

Flipped learning, for example, gets more attention when schools move online, especially during periods where students may have to learn at home for a lengthy period, including during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Jon Bergmann, considered to be one of the founders of the flipped learning movement who wrote a well-known book about it in 2012, says he has used the technique in his classroom during school closing. He says he provided the individual help it requires through a virtual room, letting students watch his lectures at their own pace then work on concepts with his direction.

His Flipped Learning Institute and collaborators have developed a rapid transition to online learning (RTOL)  guide to transition to flipped learning quickly. RTOL is a 12-step global roadmap developed for school districts, schools, and educators needing a “quick start resource”, he says.

For other online instruction, International Educator has this list of resources and Public Radio station KQED has a number of links to valuable sources of information. There is also material from  The Online Learning Consortium, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and The United States Distance Learning Association.

 To transition to online learning, some experts have suggested these steps:

  • Consider a platform if there isn’t one available in your district, Google classroom or Moodle will probably work.
  • Think about a schedule. When will you be available online for your class each day, perhaps during the regular time the class meets to avoid conflicts..
  • Take into consideration that some students may not have easy online access, and help them by providing them instruction in other ways or helping them to find a way to get online safely.
  • Apply your lesson plans to the online format. What do you have to record and make available that you were intending to provide in a lecture. How do you get worksheets and notes available. If you are lecturing, record it and make it available for students to access later. For recording, teachers can use recording tools on their phones or other devices and work with Adobe SparkiMovieKeynotePowerPointExplain Everything.
  • Communicate with parents. Tell them the schedule and what they can expect from you each day and what they should expect their students to be doing.
  • Think about assessments – how students will take them and how you will get the results back to them.
  • Ask for feedback initially then as you go. Check in with parents and students soon after you begin the process to see where there are gaps or problems and take time to correct them. Then check again periodically and fine tune.
  • Use human resources. A student, a parent, a colleague or family member may have some tips that can really help.

Written by Jim Paterson, Education World Contributing Writer

Jim Paterson is a writer, contributing to a variety of national publications, most recently specializing in education. During a break from writing for a period, he was the head of a school counseling department. (

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