Resources & Tips for Remote Education During School Closures
more states declaring a state of emergency, public and private K–12
schools are closing their doors and sending students, teachers and
staff home to learn and work remotely. For some schools remote
learning is not new, especially for private parochial schools. Many
parochial schools have been using snow days and teacher professional
development days for remote learning for many years. Public school
systems have not followed their private school counterparts into
remote learning. Today the Coronavirus has left public school systems
and private schools scrambling to find alternative ways to continue
to educate students for an extended period of time.
a former high school teacher and virtual K–12 teacher, I can
sympathize with my former colleagues who are now forced to provide
rigorous and engaging learning to thousands of students nationwide.
The good news, many school systems have already adopted technology
that can assist teachers with this monumental task, although
other teachers are starting from scratch and must put their lessons
online within days to avoid a disruption in learning, help is
are tips for all of those K–12
teachers who are working to quickly go online and for teachers and
administrators who are calming the fears of parents who have never
learned through online education and are fearful that their child
will be left behind.
Take a deep breath and find a free learning management system (LMS)
if your district doesn’t already have one. Google Classroom is
free, as well as Moodle for up to 50 users. Finding a free solution
will give you a gradebook, collaborative ability to work with
students and other free resources to add rigor, engagement and
pedagogy to your online classroom.
All teachers must have lessons plans for their daily classes. So
taking those plans and putting them online is a cinch. As a classroom
teacher and online teacher, I listed my lessons directly on the LMS
daily. Those lessons included objectives for the day, a warm-up
question that I later converted to a discussion forum in the LMS, the
readings for the day, a video from me on the key points of the lesson
and any other lecture items that were needed for that day, as well as
the assignments or exercises for that lesson. NOTE: instead of
spreading these out throughout the LMS tools, I made one page with
links to the other pages in the LMS. This way students could go to
this page, and complete all of the activities, readings, etc.
Next you should make yourself available online for the period of the
day that you normally teach. For this you can use Google Hangouts,
Cranium Café from Conexed, Skype or any other synchronous
conferencing tool. If you are going to use this synchronous time as
your regular class, be sure to record it if you can so that students
can go back to it later. Also, those that do not have good internet
can go back later and download the recording and listen to it. I
would also provide additional office hours for all students so you
can be there to help them with any particular questions outside of
Connecting students with other students! This is very important in
online learning. Students who are used to being in a classroom enjoy
the ability to get together and ask questions of their fellow
classmates, especially if they are struggling with a particular
topic. I would set up some groups in the LMS or using Google
Hangouts, the What’s Up app, GroupMe app or any other texting or
video conferencing tool you have available. Most of these I mentioned
are free for students. As the teacher, I would set up the account and
add all of the students if you can. This does require a cell phone
for most of these, so working with young children this would not be
as advantageous, but middle school and high school students will work
elementary school students, you could set up these groups for the
parents and monitor the groups so that you can step in and answer any
questions that may arise.
Grading and feedback needs to be timely and just as personal as you
would in the classroom. I recommend recording your feedback if you
can or having a one-on-one video conference call with the student.
During the video or call explain just as you would in class and
demonstrate the needed outcome.
The biggest challenge for online learners is the self-discipline and
self-motivation to access their online lessons and complete the tasks
in a timely manner. It is a lot easier to say, “I’ll get to it
later.” For elementary school children and older as well, parents
or guardian need to nag, nag, nag, or direct students to do their
would recommend using that same period of the day for each class to
set up that time for the student to complete the work each day. This
provides consistency and the mentality that this is still school and
I must login and complete the work.
Making your courses engaging with technology. Here is a list of some
technologies that can make your classes engaging, rigorous, and more
Top, easy-to-use technologies
to help professors move online quickly, maintain rigor and engage
make your PowerPoints and Google Slides interactive with ease.
ADA compliant video conferencing.
creative, interactive presentations.
fully featured, fully integrated, user- friendly, online 3d modeling
Professional looking graphics, web pages, and videos in minutes.
Advice for Parents and Teachers
who must lead the move to online learning for K–12 schools are in a
position to calm fears and ensure parents and students that online
learning is just as credible as face-to-face learning.
who never participated in any kind of online learning may be fearful
that the education and learning is not as good online as it would be
in class. This is just not true. Here are some studies that you can
read and quote to parents and students that online learning is just
as rigorous and engaging as classroom learning.
American Council for Online Learning K–12 Primer
— This is a comprehensive report on everything K–12 online
learning. It provides common misconceptions of parents,
administrators and teachers for online learning as well as provides
concrete evidence that K–12 online learning outcomes are as good if
not better than face-to-face courses. Version 2 is updated and
supplies the latest in technology, success stories and tips for going
online in K–12.
K–12 online learning isn’t really revolutionizing learning.
This article from the Washington Post talks about how online learning
has been around for a long time. It tackles the misconception that
online learning is not as good as classroom learning.
Myths about Online Education
— This article in US News talks about online learning and the myths
about online learning. It covers everything from online learning is
easier to the quality of online courses is less.
issues that need to be discussed for administrators and principals is
how to serve students in rural, lower socio-economic areas who may
not have access to the internet. Not all rural areas have good
coverage and some parents in disadvantaged areas in rural communities
may not have computers or access to the internet. This is a very
tough situation for all. How do you serve these individuals?
Some rural libraries have internet access. For this reason, be sure
that your courses can be downloaded by parents (who can usually
access the internet from the parking lot) to provide lessons to their
students. You should also make sure that if you have a lot of these
students that they are able to complete assignments without the use
of the internet (send books home) and be considerate of allowing
these students to submit their coursework. Panera, Walmart, Starbucks
also have internet and you can access it in most cases from the
Provide students with emergency ChromeBooks if they do not have
access to computers. Most schools are able to get ChromeBooks or have
ChromeBooks for use in the classroom. Be
sure that students can take these home for access to the online
courses. If you do not have Chrome Books, you may be able to find a
local non-profit organization or a doner who can provide ChromeBooks
to disadvantaged students. I believe as the Coronavirus crisis
continues, you will see organizations like Google and Microsoft and
others provide free or discounted access to computers as long as
parents can show need.
Hold virtual conference video or audio calls for parents to have
access to you and faculty for questions and support and make sure
that your district is able to support technical calls from students
to help them access technology. Most cloud-based technology support
is available online but having a person in your school to answer some
technical questions can be advantageous.
just be calm. Know that you and your teachers are not in this along.
There are organizations out there that can help you with this very
difficult situation. I suggest some of the following organizations
that I am a member of can certainly find you the support and help you
need. Here is a list:
Online Learning Consortium
they have resources and individuals you can rely on to help you scale
up quickly and provide you with free resources your teachers can use
Professional and Continuing Education Association
can also give you access to great resources and professionals who can
help you get online immediately.
Aurora Institute (formerly
— has tremendous resources, including broadband information and
resources to go online.
United States Distance Learning Association
— has a K–12 option with resources and help for any professor or
teacher in online education and those just converting their courses.
feel free to also reach out to me and my organization at
, we have courses, programs and advice to get you through this
difficult time. Follow us on Facebook for the latest tips and tricks
to go online quickly.
Find more resources for schools during the COVID-19 crisis here.