What is Distance Learning?
Distance learning occurs when students attend school without physically being in the classroom. It usually takes place in the form of online classes, video recordings, or video conferencing.
Benefits of Distance Learning for K-12
Flexibility is one of the main benefits of distance learning. Distance learning allows students to learn from anywhere, as long as they have access to a computer and the Internet. For many students, such as those with families that frequently relocate or travel, the flexibility that distance learning offers provides them with greater stability in their education.
Because students can attend distance learning schools from anywhere in the world (keeping in mind time differences), the opportunities they have to attend specialized schools or schools with higher qualities of education have expanded exponentially. With distance learning, students who live in rural areas or different countries are able to attend high quality STEM schools that they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. Students with physical disabilities that prevent them from attending in-person classes are also able to receive world-class education without the accessibility complications of physical schools.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, attending in-person classes now comes with significant health risks. Distance learning for K-12 students allows them to attend their classes from the safety of their own homes, which has now become a more attractive prospect than ever before.
Downsides to Distance Learning for K-12
Lack of Social Interaction
While distance learning provides students with the freedom to learn from their homes, it makes it harder for students to build up a sense of community with their peers. With distance learning, students are no longer able to physically socialize with their peers during recess, lunch, or between classes.
Communication with Teachers
Distance learning may make it more difficult for students to communicate with their teachers during class, especially if the classes take place in a format where students are not able to actively participate. This could lead to students feeling frustrated about not being able to ask questions or share their thoughts during class.
Need for Self-Motivation
Because teachers are not able to closely monitor whether students are paying attention or are on-track to complete their assignments in distance learning settings, students need to be able to have a lot more discipline and self-motivation. This can be especially difficult for younger students looking to enter into distance learning.
What to Look For in a K-12 Distance Learning School
Distance learning has recently become a more popular concept, and there are now countless distance learning options to choose from. Because of this, it’s important to know exactly what to look for in a distance learning school for K-12 students.
Because distance learning takes place 100% online, it’s crucial that the technology the school uses is user friendly, functional, and reliable. Research the types of technology that the distance learning school uses and, if possible, request a trial run on the platform before making a decision.
One of the top things to look for in a distance learning school is the quality of their faculty. If the school is not transparent with showcasing who their teachers are and providing a brief bio, take the initiative to contact them and find out. Are the members of the faculty experienced teachers? Leaders in their respective fields? These are all important questions to ask when choosing a distance learning school.
When students are in a physical K-12 classroom, it’s easy for them to walk up to a teacher and ask them for help. In a digital environment, it can be harder for students to receive the support they need. When looking for a distance learning school, make sure you look into what the average student to teacher ratio is, what lines of communication students are able to have with their teachers, whether there are additional staff members or learning coaches that can provide students with extra tutoring and assistance, and so on.
Tools for Distance Learning
Remind is a dedicated platform for teachers to communicate with students and their parents. Teachers can schedule text messages to students and parents about upcoming assignments, tests, and quizzes, as well as information about schedule changes, holidays, and other important announcements. They can also include files or links to send with their messages. Remind allows parents to have a direct line of communication with their student’s teachers so that they can be an active part of their student’s learning journey.
Edmodo is a teaching tool that allows teachers to send messages, share class materials, and more on a moderated online platform. In addition, students are able to communicate with each other on this platform and parents are able to stay in the loop by receiving updates on classroom activity and student grades.
Spiral is an online platform where teachers can post quizzes or assignments for students to complete either live or offline. With the live option, students are able to answer rapid-fire questions, view each others’ answers, and receive feedback by connecting to the activity with a code on the app. Teachers can also post assignments for students to complete offline and provide feedback and grades at a later time.
Looking for a one-stop-shop for all of your student’s distance learning needs? Dexter is an online STEM school for students ages 8+ that offers 100% remote classes for students all over the world. Dexter completely replaces traditional K-12 school by offering core classes (e.g. math, science, english, etc.) and unique electives (e.g. astronomy, virology, fantasy art, etc.) taught by a mixture of educators who are accomplished professors, researchers, 20+ year teaching veterans, and overall, leaders in their respective fields.
Dexter is designed to help students fall in love with learning again and provides them with access to all the support they need to succeed. This includes engaging and dynamic classes and assignments, small group Zoom sessions, and one-on-one tutoring with learning coaches. Community is also a top priority, and students are placed in smaller pods with a ‘pod leader’ who facilitates pod activities, interactions, and relationship-building.
Classes all take place live on Dexter’s online platform, which comes equipped with a live moderated chat box where students can interact with the teacher and each other during class, as well as features for teachers to invite students on to streams, post rapid-fire quizzes, play external videos, and more.
On Dexter’s platform, students are able to build community and collaborate with each other using built-in features such as the in-platform messaging app that allows students to communicate one-on-one with teachers, staff, and peers, and the social discussion forum where students are able to share their work or post questions. Students are also able to view their assignments, feedback, and schedule on their Dexter dashboard.
Parents can actively participate in their student’s education by viewing their student’s upcoming tasks, grades, and more using the Dexter parent portal. Parents can also communicate with their student’s pod leader and learning coach directly through the platform.
Dexter offers rolling admissions, so get started today at www.joindexter.com.