The Key To Effective Online Learning is Supporting Teachers

Posted By: Casandra Woodall AASPA Blog ,

The global pandemic has thrust teachers out of their comfort zone of face-to-face teaching into the digital realm where many lack the experience and support to offer quality instruction. There has never been a more critical moment for educators to get effective professional development than right now.

District HR leaders can play a critical role in helping educators find the learning opportunities they need to gain confidence in teaching online. Effective professional development isn’t just learning how to use new tools or upload worksheets but how to implement online teaching strategies that are based on years of research.

Here are four areas in particular where educators who are new to online and blended learning tend to need extra support in order to make online learning meaningful, equitable and engaging for students.

Creating a sense of community. In face-to-face settings, once teachers have established trust and built relationships with their students, it’s not difficult to get students discussing topics and working together on projects. But it can be challenging in a virtual environment. That’s why teachers need to be intentional about creating digital spaces for students to work together in pairs and groups, and also find opportunities for them to interact with peers and experts outside the school community. 

Designing effective online learning experiences. Adapting in-person lessons for online environments is not just a matter of scheduling virtual meetings and uploading texts and worksheets to a digital space. It’s imperative to understand concepts like cognitive load — how long students can be attentive online — and how to check for understanding when cues like body language and expression are filtered through a video image.

Assessing learning. One of the trickier aspects of teaching online is assessing student understanding. Teachers need to have a handle on competency-based learning concepts and strategies for providing timely and meaningful feedback through formative assessments.

Ensuring equity and inclusion. Understanding frameworks such as Universal Design for Learning, social emotional learning, and sheltered instruction practices, enable educators to identify potential barriers to learning and design lessons that are inclusive. Applying these concepts allows all students — in particular our learners with special needs, English Language learners, and younger students — to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and to thrive. It will also support their creative expression, thinking and collaboration in online and blended learning environments.

Here are three helpful resources that all HR leaders should be aware of as you help prepare teachers for this new and changing environment:

ISTE’s Online Teaching Course [https://www.iste.org/isteu/microcourses]
Through ISTE U, teachers can gain expertise in the fundamental principles of online and blended teaching and earn up to 15 hours of continuing education credits. 

EdSurge news [http://www.edsurge.com]
EdSurge provides a free weekly newsletter, Instruct, that gives examples of effective learning approaches in a digital world, including interviews with expert education leaders.

LearningKeepsGoing.org [http://www.learningkeepsgoing.org]
This site was developed by a coalition of education organizations in response to COVID.  It includes a variety of helpful guides as well as a directory of nearly 1,000 free online tools and apps categorized by grade and subject.AddThis Sharing Buttons


The International Society for Technology in Education is home to a passionate community of global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education. Learn more about professional development related to online learning here.