ONLINE LEARNING – WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT?

5 Tips to get the most out of online learning – from Kristen Lisa Strahlendorf registered counsellor, and private practice owner

14TH SEPTEMBER  2020, SOUTH AFRICA: Lockdown initiated an unprecedented and overnight transition from classroom to computer. This move to e-learning, triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, kept countless pupils and teachers at home and fast-tracked a shift to online learning, making it a “new normal” for many students across the country.

While online learning has been available for some time, its effectiveness was often questioned and it was not commonly adopted. But, the potential for e-learning education quickly became evident early on in lockdown, with teachers showing remarkable agility in converting “classrooms” into virtual sessions and lessons into digital presentations.

Although online learning offers numerous benefits, the transition from the traditional classroom environment and face-to-face engagement to learning via a screen has come with its challenges, for children especially.

Educational psychologist, registered counsellor, and private practice owner Kristen Lisa Strahlendorf highlights that while online learning can be beneficial, its biggest disadvantage – especially for extroverted, sociable personalities - is lack of social interaction.

“In my experience, in-person teaching in most cases is more effective than distance learning due to the value and effectiveness of face-to-face teaching. Being in person other students often creates social pressures and benefits that can help motivate students to engage,” she says.

That said, some students do just as well learning online as they do in face-to-face settings, and indeed, some do even better. Students with weaker academic backgrounds and younger children where basic literacy involves a more in-person touch often struggle in an online environment,” says Strahlendorf. The nature of online learning can also make it difficult for teachers to assist less-engaged students and maintain their interest and attention.

FIVE TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF ONLINE LEARNING:

Online learning is here to stay in some form, whether fulltime or using e-learning on an ad-hoc basis. Strahlendorf provides the following five tips to simulating a constructive learning environment and create structure while learning online.

  1. Setting up for success

Choose a quiet, clutter-free area, away from distractions. Make sure everything your child needs is available in one place, including all stationery and a glass of water. This will help them maintain focus and create the mindset of a place of structure and work.

  1. Routine, routine, routine

Put a daily routine and timetable in place which emulates the school’s timetable. We are all creatures of habit, and a set routine creates stability, allowing your child to anticipate what comes next and what their schedule will look like.

  1. Work hard, play hard and keep moving

It’s important to maintain a balance. Take frequent screen breaks and avoid the temptation to finish everything in one sitting.

Exercise daily if possible, and keep children active. Movement helps us think better.  When we move around, our problem-solving, memory and attention improve, it also reduces stress and prevents anxiety. Make sure to identify a time for exercise or active play.

  1. Switch off distractions when you “switch on”

Eliminate distractions as much as possible. Turn off the TV or radio, make sure other programmes on the device are closed to avoid interrupted pop-ups, ask family members not to interrupt unless absolutely necessary. Avoiding these distractions will help with focus and enable tasks to be completed more quickly.

  1. Reach out

Seek support. Set up a direct line of communication with your child’s teachers, by email, Whatsapp, phone calls or video conferencing. Communicate with them at a set time weekly if possible, and talk about challenges your child might be facing, and upcoming tests/assignments. Being proactive is essential if your child is struggling.

While the legacy the Covid-19 pandemic has made on the adoption of online learning will last to greater or lesser degrees, Strahlendorf suggests we embrace this new reality. “We live in an ever more connected world that is moving inexorably towards digital interaction in every sphere. Digital learning is here to stay, so we may as well optimise and make it work for us,” she says.

For pointers on how you can better manage educating your children effectively during this period, visit www.myfamilytree.co, or contact Kristen Lisa Strahlendorf via https://za.linkedin.com/in/kristen-lisa.

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