• Skills

With Covid-19 taking a toll on studies, here's how you can support students and keep them engaged

Emma Whale, Vice President - Schools, Pearson Middle East
27 Apr 2020
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With Covid-19 taking a toll on studies, here's how you can support students and keep them engaged

The global COVID-19 outbreak which erupted in late December 2019, has changed how millions around the globe are educated. Social distancing and self-isolation have translated into school and university closures across the globe: according to UNESCO, approximately 1,725 billion learners have been impacted by nationwide closures – nearly 100% of the world’s student population. In the UAE, distance learning has become the new norm, with schools sending work home for students to complete under parental supervision, and international curriculum exams cancelled for the summer.

How to ensure the continuity of learning

It is incontrovertible that these changes have caused inconvenience and anxiety to school staff, learners and parents across the region. ‘School’ is so much more than a place where knowledge is broadcast and passively absorbed – it is where children develop the vital intrapersonal skills (leadership, collaboration etc) that will drive the future economy.

However, there is a line of argument that suggests that such a dramatic crisis has the power to genuinely flip learning in the ways that have been long-discussed but never fully implemented: whether that’s ‘going fully digital’ (and really leveraging the power of technology to augment learning) or just putting greater emphasis on student-led, self-paced learning.

For these green shoots to grow, and leave a legacy of innovation and change once this crisis is over, educators and learners need support in making the best of the plethora of resources and platforms that are out there (many of which, like ActiveLearn, are being freely offered during this initial closure period). Here are some simple tips that might help.

I’m an educator. How do I deliver effective learning online?

Firstly – take advantage of a lot of free professional development that is currently being offered. Pearson, for example, has been running webinars almost daily exploring different aspects of online delivery (you can find out more at www.middleeast.pearson.com) Additionally, the below nine simple but proven strategies outlined in a recent research paper might also come in handy:

1. Know the technology

2. Create and maintain a strong presence

3. Set clear expectations for the course

4. Establish a sense of comfort and develop a community of learners

5. Promote reflection and communication through quality asynchronous discussion

6. Have a good balance of active leader and active observer

7. Request regular feedback and be cognizant of misinterpretation

8. Regularly check content resources and applications

9. Expect the unexpected and remain flexible

I’m a student. How do I stay motivated while learning outside of school?

Learning online is obviously different from traditional learning, and the physical distance from your educators and peers can make it harder to feel engaged. These five tips can help keep you motivated and on track for success:

1. Keep up the connections: with your instructors and other students via messaging apps, emails, video calls etc. so that you don’t feel isolated while learning online. You’re not in this alone!

2. Take control of your own learning: sure, your school is setting you work, but you do have some autonomy over your own learning, not least how you pace it, how you respond to group discussions, or by taking on additional projects to keep your knowledge and skills fresh.

3. Set good goals that are realistic, specific and measurable, to give you something to track against and to remind yourself that you’re making progress!

4. Help yourself stay on track by imagining the things that are likely to impede your learning in advance and setting strategies for overcoming those blockers. For example, you might anticipate seeing friends on TikTok or playing online games and want to get involved… so plan to turn off notifications for two hours.

5. Establish productive routines: you might have a bit more flexibility now around when you log on and log off. That freedom can sometimes make it harder to get started… so give yourself a specific schedule for when your schoolwork will get done and ask a parent/sibling/friend to help you stick to it. Keep a clear distinction between schoolwork and down time, to allow you to fully enjoy the latter!  

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