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Wash Away the Sweat (and Germs!) and Get Ready for Online Learning - Tips from the Pros

In the twenty-plus years of my experience living in a college town, I can’t think of a more challenging time for students and parents across the U.S. than what they are facing right now. I am in this with you. I too am facing the fact that my two young children will now have to learn from a distance; which is a new experience for them. Across all of the “Parents of,”, we are heartbroken for the students, educators and families who are dealing with an abrupt ending of in-person classes for the spring 2020 semester. The feelings are varied whether it was your student’s freshman year, or their last semester before graduation.

While these decisions have had to be made quickly, it is necessary and leaves little time to really sink in before starting classes Monday, exclusively online. So now we wash away the sweat (and hopefully germs!) of the past couple of weeks and forge ahead with this new learning “environment.” I have read countless emails, messages and comments from parents across our nation who are worried about this new way of learning. Last week, we were approached by with an opportunity to help spread their word: HELP. Help your student with online learning but not just help them, give to them.

Immediately, I did my own research on (though I instantly recognized their name). Here is what I learned and what you need to know: Student learning is clearly their number one priority. One thing that stood out in my research was:

“Multiple studies have shown that any interruption to learning has a lasting

and negative effect on student development and achievement.”

As a parent who is always “all in,” I know too well that many of you, reading this right now, are as well. is “all in” too. Their mission to is minimize, to the greatest extent, the above quote. To prove this, they committed last week to give away100,000 hours of free tutoring sessions for students across the country. You read that right. They want to help and they want to give.

If your student is looking for help with math or chemistry, come to (by and get the help you need. During the school closures and for the rest of the year, they’ll be here to help each and every student.

With an increasing number of school closures happening around the country, there are many questions left to be answered. Here are some potential questions with solutions to help transition our students onto an online learning environment:

1) Okay, we’ve moved to online instruction for the remainder of the semester. What will this look like for my student?

The format of the online instruction may change from a traditional classroom setting. It may be in the same class sizes as the in-person set up, or perhaps it will it be in smaller group study sessions. Most instructors will still stick to their regular syllabus and figure out how they can deliver an online session over webcam/screenshare. Zoom and Webex are good examples of platforms that can allow teachers to quickly jump on. Technical issues may arise when connecting to the virtual classroom. Be patient, as everyone is adjusting and above all, be prepared. Don’t log into the Zoom class for the first time 10 minutes prior to your first class online. Check it out (meaning log-in) a day in advance to ensure your connections are smooth and you can understand the functionality within your virtual classroom. Remember be patient.

With the ongoing coronavirus affecting more and more schools and students, it has forced institutions to think about how to engage students effectively outside of the classroom. Most students spend an equal amount or more time outside of the classroom on their schoolwork, whether it be self-learning through Youtube videos, receiving tutoring help or doing their homework. The institutions have an obligation to their students, and it’s been proven that any interruption to student learning has negative and lasting effects.

You will even find a few students who are already excelling in the class, giving them the opportunity to help their peers. Find these fellow students and use them to help you!

2) What tools does a household need for students to learn adequately from home? (Wifi, computer, phone, etc.)

Any teleconferencing software such as Zoom and Webex can be quickly adapted into an online classroom as they already have built-in screensharing and drawing tools for teachers to share their slides and presentations. Your student’s instructor will reach out with specific next steps and expectations. At a minimum, it will be essential for students who are learning at home to have access to a stable internet connection, a laptop or desktop computer, and a working microphone. The student should also have their physical notebooks/textbooks and binders ready so that they can also be prepared to take notes during the session.

3) Common pitfalls of remote learning and how to avoid them?

It will be important for students and teachers to enter into an agreement that during their class time in the virtual classroom, that students are not browsing the web for entertainment purposes and that they are fully engaged with the session. Even so, many teachers and students will require some time to adjust and get used to the new learning environment.

In order to ensure that students are not falling behind, teachers should be setting aside additional time to check in on their students. If it’s a classroom of 25, the teacher may choose to do so by dividing them up into smaller groups of 5, where they spend additional time outside of the regular class time to ensure that everyone is keeping up.

While the quality of 1-to-1 online teaching is largely comparable and in certain ways, superior to in-person teaching, having to address a group of multiple students may be a challenge to teachers who have never taught online. However, with the recent developments in public health and safety, teachers must learn to adapt to the circumstances in order to minimize the effects on their students.

Do yourself a favor, as you help navigate these new-found waters with your online-learning student: check out and see the resources presented for your student, especially snagging one of the 100,000 hours of free tutoring.

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