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Surmounting COVID-19: How to spot students falling behind in the remote classroom

By Isabella Wood on 22 April 2020NSWstaffroomUKstaffroomCOVID-19online learning

Inside the familiar walls of the classroom, a quick glance up at your students can give you almost all the data you need. If an ocean of confounded faces is staring back at you; you know you might need to explain that concept again. If a student is staring wistfully out the window; you can presume they won’t recall the finer points of your lesson. However, in this brave new world of remote, online and asynchronous learning, these signals are about as easy to come by as a steady supply of toilet paper. So, the question begs itself, what can we use to replace those small signals that helped us understand how we pace lessons, which students might be struggling or who might need a little extra attention?

Let’s explore.

Get active

As opposed to glancing up to get a read on the room, the process of gaining remote feedback will have to be more active. This might be as simple as a single well-designed hinge question strategically placed to break up what would have been otherwise a passive learning experience, stretching up to a full-blown assignment. The more active learning a lesson involves, where students are doing tasks that you can track, like answering questions, taking quizzes, or having an online discussion, the more insight you’ll get into how they’re progressing. If you’ve got a block of content to get through, try to find where you can break it down and insert more opportunities for active learning throughout. There’s no need to throw in all the bells and whistles here. Keep these moments stripped back to communicate what’s absolutely essential.

Regular formative assessment

In your face-to-face classroom, you might have held enough confidence in your students’ understanding that you could push out the time between issuing a quiz or mock exam question. However, as you adjust online, using these formative tools more regularly might help you to get a better read on your students. After all, according to Hattie, done well, quizzes and practice questions can be very effective teaching methods in-and-of-themselves.

However, this comes with the added burden of having to compose, issue, and mark a lot more work. With Atomi’s quizzes, you can save a lot of that prep time, and as they’re automatically marked and analyzed, and you’ll be in a better position to pivot your approach if necessary. However you collect student’s results you’ll want to inform your teaching based on individual and group progress. At Atomi, we make this step easy by collating data to give you reports on how much content your students have completed, what they need to revise, and even how their results compare to the rest of your school and state.

Encourage ownership

Last but not least, set the stage for your students to be their own best advocates. Make sure they understand what your expectations are so they know when they might be falling short, and ensure that they know how to reach out to flag an issue early. Messaging you via email, chat or LMS is a great start, but be sure to set the expectations that you’re not a 24/7 helpline.  

Another option would be setting up weekly check-ins with your students, giving them an opportunity to share how comfortable they are with the course content. This could be via an online survey, break out groups on video calls or even messaging platforms in your LMS. The goal of these should be to identify gaps in your student’s knowledge while maintaining a social connection in the absence of a physical classroom.

Without adequate (read regular) feedback, students who are struggling can silently slip behind, and the further they fall the harder it becomes to get back on track. Ensuring that you continue to receive fast and effective feedback from your students will undoubtedly save a lot of heartache in the future.

If you’re interested in exploring Atomi quizzes a little more, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team who can help you get started.


Liked what you read? Check out more awesome articles:

Asynchronous learning during COVID-19

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