It’s become fairly common for learning to take place online. Many colleges offer online degree programs to allow students to further their education without the need to attend on-campus lectures. In 2018, approximately 3.25 million students were enrolled in distance education courses.
Despite its rising popularity, distance learning can be difficult for both teachers and students. When you remove the physical learning environment, you need to be able to trust your students to be self-motivated in their learning.
Likewise, your students need to be able to trust that you will provide them with all of the resources and support they need to complete their online learning. Without the assistance of physical interaction, virtual learning tools become more important than ever before.
By utilizing a bank of must-have tech tools, you can ensure your students have everything they need to succeed in their distance learning. Tech tools can be a powerful solution for distance learning by fostering inclusion, encouraging team collaboration and supporting each student’s individual progression.
The must have tech tools for distance learning
There are a multitude of benefits to distance learning for teachers and learners. As a learner, studying online allows you to further your learning anywhere, anytime at a lower cost. Distance learning will also allow you, as a learner, to work to a flexible schedule.
As a teacher, offering distance learning can enable you to reach students from multiple locations, not just the ones who are in close physical proximity. Distance learning will also allow teachers to minimize the financial overheads involved with physical learning centers.
To help your students get the most out of your online learning program, we’ve compiled this list of the must-have tech tools for distance learning.
1) Video conferencing software
The importance of human interaction should not be ignored in distance learning. Video calls and conferences are a powerful tool for enriching your distance learning program. Video call software will allow you to host live, interactive sessions for your students.
Hosting live video calls can help to simulate the in-person learning environment by fostering collaboration between students and the teacher. When compared to audio-conferencing, video conferencing significantly improves the quality of communication which, in turn, can improve performance.
Nowadays, you will find a variety of video conferencing tools to choose from. Each offering varying features, you will find that most video call tools allow you to host webinars to large audience sizes, perfect for virtual lectures.
Most video call tools, such as Zoom and Google Meet, will allow you to record your video sessions. This presents a great opportunity to use pre-recorded video calls for future use. These pre-recorded sessions can be provided to lesson attendees for recapping at a later date, or they can be used to deliver pre-recorded lessons to new students.
2) Whiteboarding applications
Not everyone learns best by listening to a teacher. According to the VARK learning styles model devised by Fleming, people prefer to learn in one of four ways: visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic. While video conferences can be great for auditory learners, they may not be the best learning format for visual or kinesthetic learners.
Whiteboarding applications are a great way to engage visual learners. Research conducted in a classroom-based setting found that the use of interactive whiteboards increased learner engagement and participation.
Based on these findings, it could be beneficial to consider incorporating virtual whiteboard tools into your online learning program. Virtual whiteboards are useful for collaborative exercises, brainstorming or visual demonstrating aspects of teaching, such as calculations or diagrams.
If you want to simulate classroom learning, Limnu is an online whiteboard application that is representative of a real whiteboard.
The advantage of an online whiteboard compared to a real whiteboard is that you can save your annotations, use it for collaboration, share it with other people and use it alongside video conferencing. By combining whiteboarding applications with video conferencing, you can ensure your distance learning program appeals to a wider range of students.
3) Online survey tools
When providing distance learning courses, it’s important that you understand your students perceptions of your course. With online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or JotForm, you can get course feedback from your students. By collecting course feedback, you can develop a deeper understanding of the aspects of your course that did or did not work for your students.
JotForm offers a template of an e-learning feedback form that can be used to gain insights into how your online course is perceived by students. You can then use this information to make changes to your course structure and improve student satisfaction levels.
You can also use online survey tools to engage students in learning by creating polls for students to interact with, or by using surveys to understand student learning styles, habits and interests.
4) Cloud-based storage
When taking your learning online, it’s important to consider how you’re going to share resources with your students. As a result, you’re going to need a cloud-based storage solution such as Dropbox. This will allow you to store course materials, resources, printouts and worksheets for students to access as and when they need them. You can even organize course materials into folders to help students find the resources they need based on topic or lesson.
Creating a hub of resources can be advantageous for distance learning by providing students with resources they can use to complement their learning. Students with learning disabilities benefit from having more control over their web-based learning, therefore providing students with a hub of learning resources could increase accessibility as they are able to choose which learning resources works best for them.
5) Learning management platform
Finally, if you want your students to succeed in your distance learning program, you may want to set up a learning management platform.
A learning management platform streamlines all of the tech tools and content that teachers and students need for a connected learning experience. Digital learning management platforms can help simplify the process of distance learning by providing one solution of integrated products for online learning.
LearnED, a learning management system, is an online platform for e-learning. With a learning management platform, your students will be able to access course material in one place and submit assignments online. As a teacher, you will be able to host course material on the platform, see performance reports and understand how each of your students are performing.
Learn more about the LearnED and available courses here.