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Education technology is designed to support and supplement long-term instructional best practices. School districts face the greatest challenges when they attempt to steer teachers in entirely new directions because of the technology investments they have made instead of using an instruction-first approach. 

Teachers can benefit immensely from technological support, however, a recent EdTech survey found that 34% of educators said their schools lacked a formal technology strategy and 43% said they needed to better prioritize training teachers on technology to support their remote and hybrid learning initiatives. Let’s take a closer look at four key ways in which an instruction-first approach to teaching can better support your students. 

Integrating Direct Instruction Into Remote Learning

A majority of US students remain in remote or hybrid-remote learning environments. That isn’t likely to change for several more months as vaccine rollouts continue. Many other schools are investing in long-term resources. In San Antonio, voters recently approved an additional $90 million for new cameras and microphones in schools for teachers. In others, planning is underway for permanent remote and hybrid classroom options. 

Remote learning has the potential to engage students who cannot otherwise physically attend classes, help reduce the impact of inclement weather on school schedules, and ensure steady access to educational resources. An increasing number of experts estimate that remote learning will remain in some capacity after the pandemic ends. 

But direct instruction remains a vital component of teaching. To fully engage students, keep materials timely, and respond to questions or concerns as they develop, periods of direct instruction are highly recommended. These don’t have to be lengthy. Targeting 10-12 minute sessions for students in high school and shorter for younger students can have a positive impact. 

Elevating Asynchronous Learning Opportunities 

While direct instruction is an important component of student engagement and successful learning outcomes, asynchronous learning is equally important. It’s difficult to keep students engaged in live instruction for hours at a time, and yet there’s an entire school day to fill. 

The right asynchronous learning opportunities allow students to interact with content, practice key concepts, and review before assessments. Teachers can present content paced to the student’s current level of understanding.

When Johnson City Schools in Tennessee implemented Boardworks for asynchronous learning they saw a number of benefits for both their teachers and students. 

In the Middle School science resource alone, there were more than 6,000 student views in less than two months, allowing Johnson City Schools to supplement their science curriculum without the need for physical kits. They saved money on math manipulatives and improved the quality of home learning in math while becoming an integral part of the remote learning solution for the district’s students across all age groups. 

Read the Full Case Study to Learn How Johnson City School Districts implemented Boardworks to supplement their remote learning efforts during the coronavirus pandemic

Leveraging Flipped Teaching with Technology

A major component of remote learning is video content. When a teacher cannot actively demonstrate a concept in front of a classroom, YouTube becomes a valuable resource. But, generic videos that are not specific to the students or their teacher result in lower engagement rates. Research shows that it is better if a teacher creates their own videos instead of relying on outside content. The teacher’s voice is lost, reducing engagement almost immediately. 

Flipped teaching enables teachers to create short sub-10-minute videos that incorporate interactive graphics and visuals to support long-term learning. By combining inexpensive screencasting software with interactive lesson materials, teachers can quickly and easily produce videos that provide value to students in remote settings. 

The benefit of this approach is that teachers can present pre-produced videos in advance of synchronous class time. Students arrive to class having already engaged with the materials for the week, ready to apply what was learned asynchronously. This helps increase the value of the time spent face-to-face with a teacher, especially important when that time is limited. It also helps facilitate small group work and frees teachers to respond to individual needs instead of using a single broad lecture for the entire class. 

Providing Student Choice for Lesson Engagement

Student choice can directly impact performance, providing students with greater degrees of competence and autonomy in a digital classroom. There are several ways in which teachers are providing choice and ensuring a higher level of engagement in their students, including:

  • Providing Worksheets at Different Levels – One-size fits all worksheets can leave some students behind and fail to challenge those who are already comfortable with the material. Offer students the ability to select worksheets within the same subject area at different challenge levels to accommodate their performance. Boardworks is designed to help with this, providing access to all grade levels for teachers to draw lesson materials. 
  • Incorporating New and Exciting Ways to Engage with a Topic – Provide a variety of ways for students to build comprehension or understanding of a subject. For example, provide students a Hyperdoc with preloaded subsets of information. Include videos, slide decks, documentaries, primary sources, or games. Students may learn about the scientific phenomenon of “conduction” through these mediums. Educators can offer or suggest options for students to demonstrate mastery with meaningful presentations, podcasts, screencast responses, peer instruction, essays. infographics etc.
  • Encouraging Students to Lead Discovery Activities – Provide unique project-based learning opportunities that students can take charge of. Instead of a static list of activities to measure learning, present open-ended questions that encourage students to explore a topic of their choosing. Help students take ownership over their learning and become more engaged with the subject matter. Technology supports this by providing more channels through which to demonstrate learning. 

An instruction-first approach to technology that prioritizes student choice can lead to higher levels of engagement and better learning outcomes for students at all levels. 

Building an Instruction-First Approach to Hybrid and Remote Learning

By focusing on quality teaching and prioritizing instruction over flashy new technology tools, your teachers can overcome the biggest challenges faced in remote and hybrid learning. Technology is more prevalent than ever, but it shouldn’t inform teaching methods. It is a tool that can help teachers get more done in a limited amount of time. 

Download our white paper to learn more: How to Leverage Existing Technology Investments to Address Education Challenges