Back to the Basics for Remote Online Learning


Remember when your mom used to say “if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times…”.

Here at EdTech we think this might be a season where you’ll have to say things a lot more than once! When you can’t be face to face with students, parents and staff, the art of communication and the need to communicate regularly has moved to a different level.

There are some obvious things you have to have in place for communication about your digital classroom to work.

Request Updated Contact Information

Ensure you have the most up to date contact information available for families and plan to utilize all forms of communicating including:

  • Email
  • Texting
  • Phone calls
  • Communication Apps like Remind, Seesaw, Classdojo

It is better to communicate the same thing via multiple channels than to assume everyone will see your communication in just one place. This is especially true while the communication plans for your school are settling in.

Repeat Information Frequently and on Multiple Channels

This is a time when you’ll need to communicate often and repeat important information multiple times. Everyone is a bit overwhelmed, and when our interaction becomes purely digital, the opportunity for distraction increases exponentially! Determine what the key information is that your students and families need to know, and make sure you repeat those instructions everywhere possible with consistency.

Reinforce Information with Patience

Anticipate a level of frustration that will come as students and families ask questions you thought you answered. For the key information, create a document you can send as a PDF, but just know you’ll have to send it more than once! If you can post it on your website for easy access with a link, do that!

Clarify Expectations

Teachers, students, and families are feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. Running a digital classroom and remote learning is a whole new animal for many, and what we expect of our teachers, as well as our students and their families has to be discussed and defined.

If it has not already been established at your school, determine a baseline of minimum expectations that must be met. Clarify expectations involving attendance, participation, work load, communication if absent, etc. Test what is working and what isn’t and refine as you go.

REMEMBER- this doesn’t just happen at the beginning of the school year. Take advantage of opportunities to reset expectations such as the end of a quarter or after an extended break, or once you are ready to start a new project.

Don’t assume you can teach the same way

Remote learning is its own animal and requires some different approaches for success. Some ideas for remote teaching include:

  • Break learning into smaller chunks.
  • Be clear about expectations for online participation.
  • Provide frequent feedback through online knowledge checks, comments on collaborative documents and chat to keep students motivated and moving forward.
  • Include virtual meetings, live chats or video tutorials to maintain a human connection.

Use this simple technique to assess and connect

You already know that to be successful in any learning environment you have to connect not just with their minds, but with their hearts. Here is one simple technique to assess and connect with your students.

Every day in your digital classroom do a check in with your students by asking them this question: Can you share how you are feeling today in one word?

There is something powerful for all of us in just being seen and heard, and the “one word” exercise can tell you a ton about how your students are holding up and processing. You don’t have to respond or solve anything. The collective sharing of just one word can build trust and connection in your classroom.

If you are teaching younger ages who can’t easily pinpoint their feelings, here are some other ideas:

K-3rd Grade: Use a feelings chart with facial expressions to help kids identify how they are feeling.

4-6th Grade: Allow kids to share an emoji that best describes their feelings.

Middle School: Create a hashtag or share a meme/gif that describes how they feel.

By the way…this not only works for your digital classroom, but also for your staff meetings.

Some of these ideas are super basic, but the reality is that basic may well be your best friend during this season of remote learning.

Still trying to get your students to engage? Click on the button below and you’ll find 45 different ways you can engage students!