Transitioning to Online Learning

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Tips and Resources for Transitioning to Online Learning

We understand it’s difficult to overhaul your curriculum to be delivered virtually, we want to help you in your transition to online learning.

On March 19th we hosted a roundtable discussion to share best practices and resources to help you do this successfully. Educators and parents are coming together to create resources to support each other in this transition. With what’s being shared, it can be overwhelming to know what’s useful and what’s not – and even more overwhelming to find resources dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing students.

“I took an online course for my PhD a long time ago. I chose to for personal reasons, but now there is no choice,” explained Dr. Mei Kennedy. “It’s a completely different experience for everyone else. No one is prepared. And you’re not mentally set for this. You may not know how to structure your courses or time. It’s a major overhaul that has to take place.” 

If you’re looking for place to start the Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Communication, Language and Deaf/Hard of Hearing has compiled this helpful document. Read on to find more helpful resources.

Common Barriers to Online Learning

At the start of the discussion, we asked teachers to type one word in the chatbox about why they were here. “I’m seeing ‘HELP’ again and again. There are students that lack the resources like homework, computers, an internet connection, barriers like these present a tremendous challenge,” explained webinar host Joshua Mora. “That’s why we are here, for support.”

For a population of students who are already facing barriers, going remote adds even more stress. Throughout our webinar, we identified a few common barriers and will do our best to address these as we move forward.

  • Learning new software
  • Teaching students to use new software
  • Providing captions and interpreters
  • Navigating copyrights
  • Helping students’ cope with isolation
  • Balancing our new family life and work
  • Feeling disconnected from our students

“Equity is another barrier,” says Dr. John Pirone “…some students don’t have great internet at home. Others have high speed. There’s a disparity there that we need to be aware of. Other students come from a family where they have to take care of younger siblings. They have family duties and don’t have the time to attend class. Some are experienced using computers; others are not. There are different types of learning styles. Some can learn online; others can’t.” 

How to Stay Accessible 

“There’s been an accessibility shift. We’re used to interpreters coming into the classroom. What does that look like now, online?” asked Joshua Mora.

With the rush to transition to online learning, there is a chance that accessibility will become an afterthought. Our students are already in a stressful situation and re-learning how to learn. Barriers to access, shouldn’t be another added stressor. Read The National Deaf Center’s ten helpful tips for educators to see how you can maintain and improve accessibility.

Useful Tech for Online Learning

A lot of us are scrambling to learn new technologies at the same time that we are adapting our coursework. On top of that, there is so much tech out there it’s difficult to know what’s helpful and what isn’t. Here are the resources that have been most beneficial to our panelists, and attendees.

Video 

Zoom

Camtasia

Google Hangouts

Learning Management 

FlipGrid

Blackboard

Moodle

Social Media 

Instagram groups & stories

Facebook groups

Netflix Party 

Not sure how to use them? Don’t worry, the YouTube channel, New EdTech Classroom uploads videos on how to use educational technology weekly.

Building Your Lessons 

You’ve finally gotten into a groove with creating lessons and here comes one of the biggest shifts you may ever experience. So now it’s time to start again, but where? How?

Here are some tips our experts and attendees came  up with:

  • Communicate with your students! Ask them about their accommodations and needs so that you can meet them at their level. It’s very important to do this first, so you can build a curriculum that will meet their needs.
  • Let your students know that you’re human. Tell them that it’s okay to be scared and that we’re learning all new things now.
  • Cut all busywork. There’s no time for that anymore. Students need to be getting the most crucial information at a time like this.
  • Follow the rule of two. Identify two goals you want to accomplish in the short-term and focus on those.
  • Don’t wing it! In-person we’ve all gotten comfortable adapting on the fly. But we can’t do that anymore. Every minute we have with our students is crucial. “Envision what the next 4-6 weeks look like. Create an outline. List out your goals. Develop a schedule for the next 2-3 weeks,” Frank Griffin.
  • Ask for help! Check out this new Facebook group: Remote ASL Teaching, Best Practices

Time to Teach

Alright, now that we have an understanding of the barriers, the technology, and accessibility, we need resources to share with our students who are starting their online learning journey.

Books and stories in ASL: 

Lessons: 

At the End of the Day

Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. If you take anything away from this blog take these tips:

  • Work with what you have; don’t overdo it.
  • Keep videos under 6 minutes – the shorter the better.
  • Content is king – don’t replace content with design and appearances.
  • If you’re not an eLearning expert, don’t fret! By working together, we can succeed.

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