Checklist: Essentials for Your Remote Learning Plan

Here are some questions to consider as you formulate your remote learning plan.

Online Classroom

What video conferencing platform do you plan to use?
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There are many useful audio-visual conference platforms available, including Adobe Connect, Zoom, Bluejeans, Google Hangouts, and others. As you assess these services, be sure to compare the functions they offer and get a clear sense of their costs.
What in-class sharing tools will your teachers need?
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Tools such as video, Powerpoint, and whiteboard often prove useful for online instruction, and most audio-visual conference platforms enable these features. You might investigate whether any of your courses require special sharing tools, such as a tablet device for writing on a virtual whiteboard.
What outside-of-class sharing tools do you have?
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It is often helpful to share reading assignments, homework, etc. through a means other than email. If you already have a learning management system, consider exploring features you have not previously used. Free resources such as Google Classroom may prove useful if you do not have a learning management system. Additionally, a file-sharing tool like Dropbox may help teachers distribute reading or homework before class.

IT Resources and Support

Do your students have access to suitable computers for online class sessions?
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This question may sound obvious, but it is worth special attention. You may want to develop a system for loaning laptops to students who need them. Note that a student joining a video conference by smartphone might have limited access to some functions, but it is often possible to integrate the student into class discussion with some good planning.
Do your students have access to high speed internet?
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This is another question worth special attention. If it turns out that some students lack a high speed connection, you might try to run class without video (which can use a lot of bandwidth) or encourage these students to attend via smartphone.
Do you have written instructions on how to use online tools for teachers, students, and other members of your school?
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Simple, brief instructions about your conferencing platform and online tools will be useful for training purposes and as a reference that teachers and students can have on hand as they acclimate to a new learning environment.
Who will provide IT support for training activities and for your overall remote learning plan?
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If you have a technology department, you might designate a team within it. Given that the whole school will be involved with the execution of your plan, you might opt to augment your team with other tech-savvy staff or teachers. Even after thoughtful preparation and training, the first few days will be challenging and you should expect to have very high demand for tech support.


How will teachers and staff members stay connected while your remote learning plan is in place?
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In addition to communicating through email lists, you might rely on instant messaging systems such as Skype, Slack, etc. Skype or Slack conversations can be used as a “hallway” or “lounge” so teachers and staff can touch base and feel connected to each other. An active group conversation will also prove helpful in the event of emergency, or when a teacher seeks help for a tech issue that might not require the expertise of your busy technology team. Here, you might also use a discussion board feature on your learning management system.
What training plans do you have for students, teachers, and others?
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It’s a good idea to train your entire community to be prepared for going online in advance of an emergency forcing you to do so. Much like a fire drill, an “online drill” can serve as an essential run-through.
Do you have a contact list for your online learning plan?
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As an online learning plan will be a special operation for your school, students and families will benefit from having a list of contacts associated with the plan, so they will know whom to contact for specific issues (such as being unable to access an online classroom).
When and how will you communicate your plan to your community? Where will information about your plan be available after your announcement?
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If you communicate your plan by email, it will be important to post it to a webpage, so that the school community can access details if/when they are unable to access their email. You might also continue to update the plan, in which case let people know they should refer to the webpage rather than an initial email announcement.
If you need to execute the remote learning plan ahead of schedule, how will you let the community know?
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Proactive communication of your plan before the time of emergency is fairly easy, but communicating the decision to go online on the day of an emergency is likely another story. It might be wise to plan for classes to meet one day after a sudden announcement of a move to your online learning plan.