Five tips to support you with distance learning

Five tips to support you with distance learning

As thousands of international schools around the world close their doors due to coronavirus, we know many of you are now teaching remotely and we want to support you and your learners as much as we possibly can. To that end, we’ve put together some...


As thousands of international schools around the world close their doors due to coronavirus, we know many of you are now teaching remotely and we want to support you and your learners as much as we possibly can. To that end, we’ve put together some useful resources and top tips for getting started with distance learning and working with remote learners. Also see these related blog posts:

Seven strategies for effective online teaching

Five resources for practising mindfulness

How to reassure your learners about scary news stories

How to motivate your students when learning from home

How to deliver an engaging online lesson to teenagers

10 online resources for international school teachers

Common pitfalls of teaching at home – and how to avoid them

1. Find the right technology

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a reliable online platform or learning management system to help you communicate with your students. The good news is that there are lots of options available to you.

Pearson’s top tips for online delivery

In this 5-minute video, Amy McJennett, Head of Digital and Assessment at Pearson, shares ten tips for preparing to teach remotely along with best practice suggestions from the community of teachers we work with, including:

  • defining your remote curriculum
  • choosing the platform/s to help you deliver it
  • communicating with students
  • creating tutorials and short lessons and
  • delivering live lessons

Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, Moodle and more

Google Classroom is a digital learning space where you can collaborate with your learners and deliver live lessons. Parents can also sign up for weekly or daily alerts, so you can keep them informed of their child’s progress and let them know about upcoming assignments and class activities.

If you are running one-to-one or small group classes, Google Hangouts is an easy-to-use option. It’s free and web-based, which means desktop users do not have to download applications to use it. If you have a Gmail address, you’ll be able to send recurring calendar invitations to your student(s) and they will be able to sign in to the Hangout directly from their email.

Moodle is a free, open-source learning management platform that offers an integrated teaching and administration system to teachers and schools. It works on mobile and desktop and is free for teachers who will have 50 or fewer students. But if you need a more powerful Moodle site, you’ll need to download the software onto your own server. Moodle is tried and tested, having been developed for many years. There are also social media platforms such as Edmodo and LoopdLife which are specifically designed with education in mind.

UNESCO distance learning blog

UNESCO has put together a list of educational applications and platforms that can help schools, teachers and parents facilitate student learning during periods of school closure. Read more here.

International ACAC: The Reality of Virtuality webinar

The International Association for College Admission Counseling has a useful webinar to support educators in their school-wide moved towards online learning and defining a new form of school community. In The Reality of virtuality: How to maximise your ‘bandwidth’ in the throws of the coronavirus counselors who have been working with students and parents virtually for the last six weeks share their experiences and offer suggestions to help support the global move to a place of online learning.

2. Access educational resources to support your learners

Having access to the educational resources you need to help teach your online curriculum, and being able to share those with learners at home is important. To help with this, we’re providing free access to our digital resources to help you teach a wide range of subjects remotely.

Free access to ActiveLearn Digital Service for learners aged 5 to 19 

ActiveLearn is our digital learning space for teachers and students. It allows you to plan, teach, track and assess your learners and allocate resources to students across a wide range of subjects from ages 5 to 19.

To help you teach remotely during this time, you can access all of the content on ActiveLearn free for 60 days. To access any product from the ActiveLearn suite just select which primary digital resources you would like access to and which secondary digital resources you would like to access. We will then set-up access to the ActiveLearn platform for you in 7-10 working days.

These ActiveLearn Digital Service tutorials will help you get up and running and your local Pearson representative is available to help with any questions you may have.

Free student access to International GCSE, International A Level and IB Diploma ActiveBooks 

In addition to the vast online planning, teaching and learning offered by ActiveLearn Digital Service, across primary and secondary, we’re also pleased to provide free access to all our International GCSE and International A level ActiveBooks and our latest International Baccalaureate Diploma eBooks until the end of June 2020.

These are online versions of the print books, usually accessed by students using a unique code from the physical printed book. Access them here.

3. Find free webinars and links to support you

Advice for working and learning online during a pandemic

As schools and universities across the world are getting creative with online options to keep students safe and healthy at home, we’ve put together a range of help and information for educators that may be new to virtual teaching. We’ll be updating this site regularly with even more helpful resources so do check back regularly.

Seven strategies for effective online teaching

Many international school teachers are having to move teaching quickly online. To help you find your way, we’ve put together seven strategies to help set you and your learners up for success in your new online teaching and learning environment.

Webinars to support you with distance teaching and learning

Best practices for teachers to instruct and engage remotely (podcast): Listen on demand. This webinar, hosted by online school Connections Academy, is an informative and very real conversation about taking teaching online in this challenging time. In it, the Connections panel discusses how to engage students remotely, best practices for effective communications, how best to assess student work, tips for video tutorials and more.

Best practices for learning online: tips for parents (podcast): Listen on demand. This webinar was hosted by online school Connections Academy specifically for parents. In it, the Connections panel of online education experts share best practices and answer questions from the live participants. It covers how to set up your home for success, ways to motivate students and ensure they meet school expectations, tips for supporting multiple students in the home and more.

Distance teaching and learning: useful tips for making it work (webinars): in this series of seven short videos, online teaching expert Dr Ken Beatty offers practical advice for transitioning to teaching online, including how to get organised, plan effectively, stay motivated and keep learners engaged.

How to deliver an engaging online lesson to teenage learners (webinar): watch on demand. This webinar looks at how English teachers can continue lessons with teens in an online setting but will also be useful for MFL and ESL teachers. It considers planning, pre-lesson tasks and follow-up, digital delivery tools and platforms, the use of video and ways to build in interaction all with the aim of helping English teachers of teens to find their feet in the world of online teaching.

Free teaching apps to support virtual instruction (webinar): watch on demand. Our colleagues at Pearson Australia have compiled a set of resources from our own experts at Pearson as well reputable partners, to bring you valuable tips and advice for teaching and learning remotely. In this webinar, learn more about apps and platforms that are available to teachers to help build your capacity in a virtual learning environment and walk through basic steps to get started.

Top tips for instructing in a virtual classroom (webinar): watch on demand. Our colleagues at Pearson Australia have compiled a set of resources from our own experts at Pearson as well reputable partners, to bring you valuable tips and advice for teaching and learning remotely. Learn some top tips about virtual instruction and how to best keep your students, and their parents, engaged and motivated to learn. This webinar includes tips to add technology into lesson plans to effectively engage learners and parents.

The power of video as an instructional tool (webinar): watch on demand. Our colleagues at Pearson Australia have compiled a set of resources from our own experts at Pearson as well reputable partners, to bring you valuable tips and advice for teaching and learning remotely. Build on your understanding of using video as an instructional tool and develop strategies that will ensure every learner gets the most out of your teaching time.

Tips to support students and families at home

Switching to teaching remotely is not only a big change for you and your learners, it’s also a big change for your learners’ families. Our Connections Academy educators who are experts in teaching students who learn from home share their advice in this article tips for student success and learning at home.

COBIS COVID-19 support hub

COBIS (The Council for British International Schools) has put together a COVID-19 support hub to help facilitate the sharing of best-practice resources and trusted information around managing the impact of school closures. Access the support hub.

4. Set expectations for learner behaviour 

Your learners may not be used to doing classes online and might see it as an opportunity to relax, or they may be anxious and not know where to start. It is therefore essential you discuss what’s expected of them and what they can expect from you during the online sessions.

Talk to them about the types of activities they can expect to take part in, how often you’ll be assigning homework and how they’ll be assessed. It’s also a good idea to discuss the advantages of distance learning and address any doubts they might have. For more on this, see our article Teaching online: the keys to success.

Bad virtual classroom behaviour may also be something you have to deal with, so whether you’re teaching young children or teenagers, it’s a good idea to set out behavioural guidelines before starting a course. This could take the form of a classroom contract.

In this agreement, you should also define what cyberbullying and harassment is, establish rules, and make sure your students agree to treat each other well in any forums you establish and in online class chats. You must also make sure that students feel comfortable to come to you and report anything untoward. Monitor how students are talking to each other and intervene if necessary.

See our article How to protect your students from cyberbullying for more and check out 5 things you can do to improve online safety for young learners.

5. Make the most of free online content

There are hundreds of free online resources you can use with your learners including video resources and podcasts, online magazines and educational websites.

COVID-19 support from Pearson

In response to the recent Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, we would like to reassure the global schools’ community that we are monitoring the situation extremely closely. We understand the impact this is having, and our thoughts are with everyone affected.

Our priority is the safety of our employees, customers and learners.

Pearson teams around the world will do everything possible to ensure that teaching, learning and exam preparation can continue during this period of uncertainty, following guidance from governments and local authorities in the markets in which we operate.

Please visit our Pearson website for the latest updates and support provision for your region.

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