Digital Distance Learning Tips & Tricks

Best practices, tips, tricks and tools to help you organize your distance education.

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We at Gynzy want to help you figure out the best way to perform optimal distance learning. Now that schools are closing and students will need to stay at home, teachers are challenged to provide an e-learning experience that is as comprehensive and engaging as in a classroom.

Below we’ve gathered some tips, tricks, and a general approach that may help educators solve some of the challenges they are now facing. By asking questions, sharing knowledge, communicating, and being understanding with one another, we may find that these temporary challenges lead to new opportunities.

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Create a free Gynzy account to give students free access to our lessons, games and activities. Also consider registering for a free school-wide trial to keep your faculty, students, and parents connected.

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1. Organize and Prepare

How to get set up for distance learning?

How, when, and how often will teachers and students have contact in this new e-learning environment? While we believe that the best approach may vary by school, class, and even student, we want to present a few questions which we think will help educators craft an e-learning plan that meets the needs of their students:

  • Will classes still meet like they used to? Or would it be more efficient for entire grades to meet at once? This will likely depend on how many students are in your class and school.
  • How often will you contact students? If they have a question about a lesson, should they ask you via email, or should they write it down and save it for a separate question session?
  • While teaching and learning has always been primarily a real-time process, accessibility problems are inevitable in a purely digital environment. Recording your lessons is one way to accommodate more students – where will you store these videos? Should you create a school-wide YouTube or Vimeo account? Or should teachers create their own accounts?

Practical tools

We can tell you that Zoom makes it easy to record your lessons. To accommodate this unique moment we are in, Zoom is also temporarily lifting it’s 40-minute limit on video sessions held from Basic accounts.

The Google G Suite for Education is another option, and Google has similarly expanded their freely-available offerings for the time being. Luckily, Gynzy is thoroughly integrated with Google to help you make this transition.

Manuals

Set up your distance education.

2. Content planning

What Lessons Can I Offer?

How many of your existing lessons exist in a digital format? Even if you have existing digital teaching resources, you may find yourself now reliant on them and lacking lessons in a few key areas. This is where existing digital learning software such as Gynzy can help save educators time and keep students engaged, no matter what the circumstances.

Here is one approach to begin building your digital curriculum:

  • Start with core competencies such as ELA and Math
  • Plan one ELA and Math lesson each day
  • Decide on a place where others can access these lessons

Gynzy offers standards-aligned lessons in core competencies like ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Social-Emotional Learning. We also regularly release themed lessons around holidays, seasons, and other important events.

We recommend you browse our library to see the more than 800+ learning resources we have available for you to use, customize, and share with students. Gynzy also makes it easy for you to create your own lessons and easily enrich them with widgets, pictures, videos, and activities.

Browse Gynzy’s resources

Gynzy library
Discover the Gynzy Library

3. Instruction Delivery

How to deliver online learning to students?

There are other more practical considerations teachers may have – what is the best way to actually deliver lessons to students? How will teachers communicate with students? How will students interact with each other? When will you meet? How often? How many students at once?

Recording lessons on an app like Zoom or Loom will let you share lessons with students that they can access at their own convenience. While real-time learning may feel more natural for teachers and students, accessibility is critical so that no student falls behind.

Gynzy also makes it easy for teachers to share lessons with their students, so that they can go through the material on their own. This will be particularly useful for lessons that are enriched with games, activities, or other interactive elements. Here are a few ways to easily share Gynzy lessons with students, colleagues, and parents:

  • Copy the sharing link directly from the lesson you’re working on or viewing;
  • Share your lessons via Google Classroom;
  • Go to My Lessons and click the ellipsis button () that appears when you choose your desired lesson. Enable sharing, copy the URL to your clipboard, and share your creation!
  • Register for a free school-wide trial and store your lessons in a shared school folder for easy access.

There is likely going to be a learning curve as we adjust to widespread lockdowns due to the spread of COVID-19. Gynzy is here to help you make this transition as smooth as possible!

Tools and tips for online classes

Manuals

Loom tips

Students and other viewers can react to points in your video using the set of emoji in the bottom. You could for example tell your students to use the open mouth emoji 😮 to indicate parts that they don’t fully understand.

Zoom tips

To engage students even more, you can use zoom to allow students to take over your screen. This way, you can let them interact with the interactive parts of your lesson. To do so, while sharing your screen, move your mouse over to the top of the window and click More and then Give control to a single student or all participants.

If you miss your classroom, you can always add a picture of your classroom as your background in Zoom. Simply click the ⌃ arrow next to the camera icon and click Choose a virtual background.

Use Zoom’s built-in chat feature to enable your students to ask questions and interact without disturbing your presentation.

Team up with a colleague to help moderate the live session. The presenter will focus on the presentation of the lesson and the moderator will watch the questions and comments in the chat and notify the presenter of any interesting topics to attend to.

You can choose to mute all participants by default to ensure a quiet and focussed lesson. Also it prevents any background noise from any of the participants accidentaly interfering with your lesson.

4. Communication

How to communicate and stay digitally connected?

School is not just about developing young minds – it is also about learning to socialize, to relate to one another, to form relationships. Here are some things to consider as you think about the best way to keep your learning community together in a purely digital environment:

  • How will students ask questions if they get stuck? Should they reach out over email when the problem comes up, or should they jot it down and save their questions for a separately scheduled question session?
  • How and how often will you talk with parents/guardians of students to update them on how their student is doing?
  • Consider setting up a school, class, or teacher-specific Twitter account where you share assignments, announcements, and other communications.
  • Should you designate specific question sessions? Would these be done class-wide or in smaller segments of students? Should students email their questions ahead of time so that you can run these sessions in an orderly way?
  • Consider that having students submit their questions in writing may help you keep track of what future lessons should cover.
  • Discuss group-chat etiquette and set clear expectations – should students mute mics when they are not speaking if in a live-chat setting?
  • Clearly state assigned homework and when the next point of contact will be.
  • Consider keeping individual files on students to track their academic progress.
  • Let parents or guardians know when scheduled contact moments are, so that they can help ensure maximum attendance.

We are all going to learn through this situation together. We encourage you to experiment to see what works for the specific needs of your students. Please contact us to share what is working for you and your school – we are all in this together!

Share your tips!

Gynzy tips

We’d love some of your tips and best practices to share with the community! Let us know and we will continiously update this page to reflect all of our experiences.

*You will remain anonymous.

5. FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Distance Learning and Gynzy

First go to teacher.gynzy.com to visit our new HTML5 board, which is accessible from any internet-connected device. Then click the orange button on the bottom-left of the Library to open up a blank page. Click the paper icon on the bottom border to work from our pre-made templates. You can then begin adding text, shapes, pictures, videos, and more to your lesson. Browse our library for inspiration, or customize an existing lesson to fit your needs!

We are running a free, no-obligation school-wide trial for schools affected by the coronavirus. Offer lasts until the end of the 2020 school year.

Yes, Gynzy works on any device with access to an Internet browser.

Yes, click the options button () on the bottom-right of the screen next to the blue folder. Then click “Upload Document” to insert the desired file.

Open the lesson you’d like to customize and begin making your desired changes. Once you’re done, click the blue folder icon and then click ‘Save as.’ You can then save the lesson and name it whatever you’d like. You can then access the lesson from your My Lessons folder at your convenience.