Essential communication tools for educators

No matter where you are in the world right now, significant changes are underway. If your area is subject to schools shutting down, it's essential to understand the best ways to connect teachers with students and their parents/guardians. In many cities, there have already been closures. In some areas, precautions are being implemented, and in others, schools are preparing to shut down.

Across the board, it is becoming increasingly evident how vital communication and technology are in the education system. No matter the age, students will be forced to adapt to a new style of learning remotely.

For many, this is a cause of great angst, although it doesn’t need to be. Education systems have already implemented technology into the curriculum. It's just a matter of transitioning to learning from home, instead of a classroom, and keeping pupils engaged with their studies.

Utilizing technology

These days most schools incorporate individual devices for each student to use to enhance their learning experience with technology.

Some communication tools to utilize from home include:

  • School intranet
    • Access to school admin and information
    • Individual access and secure login
    • Specific class activities
    • Access to school resources
  • Mobile messaging gateway
  • Media sharing channels
    • Private page to share content
    • Comment, like, share content
    • Group chats
    • Live-streamed video
  • Email
  • Phone calls

Related: 'Emergency SMS Alerts & Notifications'

Teaching from home

Building lesson plans takes significant time and effort. Converting all of that information into an online learning course can be taxing for teachers, but during times of such uncertainty as this, it's necessary.

Ensure students continue their education with as little disruption as possible. The introduction of technology and devices early would assist this; however, if that was not an option, teachers should take time to walk their students through how to use the technology (i.e., tablets or laptops) that will be utilized in lessons.

Where possible, get parents and guardians involved. This will assist with getting the class started, keeping students engaged, and paying attention to their work. The teacher may decide to create class videos, live stream lesson plans, or set out digital activities to complete online. They may also incorporate writing and reading exercises to be completed within a particular time frame.

It's essential to be patient; this set up and learning arrangement will take time for everyone to get used to, including teachers, students, and parents. Educators should be provided with the support they need for this transition by schools and government bodies.

Communication is key. SMS alerts can remind parents and students of homework, due dates and tests. Two-way texting can assist individual students when something needs to be discussed. MMS can assist with sending access to information, links to online resources, or other multimedia content.

Learning from home

Classrooms were built for learning, so the transition to learning from home will be a major shift for all involved; teachers, parents/guardians, and students.

Setting up a learning station separates the student from feeling too at home, or at least decreases distractions in the home. It will also allow the student to tailor their study environment to suit their personal needs. As all students learn differently, it's essential to provide intuitive ways to learn, even at home.

Extra things to think about when studying from home:

  • Supervision (if students are underage)
  • A safe and healthy environment
  • Hygiene
  • Noise and distractions
  • Access to class requirements including equipment and materials to complete school work

Related: 'Evolve Teacher-Parent-Student communications with SMS'

Check-in

With students

Without the ability to witness each student's behavior firsthand, it can be difficult for teachers to assess whether a student needs more guidance in certain areas. Checking in with each student at the end of class can still be done, just a little differently. Teachers can send a message or request a call to discuss what's going on and how they can provide aid.

It's also good to check-in about how the students are feeling about learning from home, how their health and wellbeing is, and any feedback that the teacher may be able to incorporate.

With parents

Regular communication between teachers and parents is a must, especially during the transition period. In the beginning, gaining feedback from parents is crucial to building energetic and engaging lesson plans within the school curriculum. It is vital for teachers to know what works and what doesn't work, to accommodate for the longevity of the situation (in these uncertain times, who knows how long this might last?).

As the teachers are not physically present, parents and guardians need to be present, not only to supervise but also to encourage their children to do their best.

All work is homework

Usually, homework is done outside of school hours and almost always has a due date. But during the time of novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, homework may have to be redefined.

With many schools and education centers closing, teaching structures may need to be recalibrated to accommodate the current climate. While the overall curriculum won't necessarily be affected, the style in which it is implemented most definitely will.

The origin of homework, which may come as no surprise, was initially a punishment. These days, teachers assign homework for many reasons, including:

  • practice and preparation
  • class participation
  • personal development
  • parent-child relations
  • peer interactions and group work
  • school policy
  • build study habits

Although the above-aforementioned reasons are all valid, bringing school work home is different from learning from home full-time. With these new arrangements, comes a new understanding of study and education, as well as homework. Will 'homework' still be necessary during these times?

Related: 'How Schools & Universities can benefit from SMS'

Get involved online

Online learning is not limited to video lectures, live streaming, online quizzes, or written assignments. Educators can construct interactive activities online to stimulate minds and keep students interested.

There are plenty of online applications to get students involved academically online. Shared classwork and activities are a great way to keep everyone involved and also build teamwork skills.

But, it's not all work and no play. There is a myriad of online educational games to suit every topic and keep the pupils engaged.

Some things to remember about online learning

  • Even though teachers, parents/guardians, and students may be at home, breaks are still important
  • Each individual learns differently
  • It's a learning curve for everyone - patience is essential
  • Resources, materials, and equipment should be made available to students
    • Not all students will have access to a personal computer at home
    • Internet connection may not be secure in all areas
  • And most of all - stay safe, healthy and hygienic

SMSGlobal Support is available 24/7, feel free to reach out at any time, and our Customer Success Team will assist you.

For more information on implementing direct messaging in your communication strategy, head to SMSGlobal's Information Centre.