Prior till now, online classrooms were mostly preferred by higher institutions (polytechnics and universities using school management software/ system with online classroom integration) but today, primary and secondary schools are going online classrooms including kindergarten schools.
The advantages of online classrooms for schools is the maximum reach for the lowest cost as most of the online classroom tools are available for low pricing and have flexible plans to choose from. It helps to increase student’s admission enrollments in a school. The other advantages include the reduced costs of infrastructure maintenance as the students are participating in the subjects/ courses from their homes. The advantages for learners are also manifold including the savings from the daily travel and the ability to participate and learn from the comfort of their room.
The following are the steps you can follow to set up and operate your online classroom as a school:
1. Choosing the right platform
There are plenty of solutions available to set up online classrooms. This includes simple video collaboration tools and advanced learning management systems. Choose the product according to the complexity of your school operations. You may not have to select high-level features to start with. Check with the platform if there is an option to upgrade the plan at a later time. Look for a solution that caters to other schools similar to your school.
This stage is very important for school managers as wrong tool (learning management system) may mar the whole vision of taken your school to online classroom.
It is important to note here that schools that have existing school management system/ software should look for an online classroom that can be integrated to their existing School ERP.
2. Get inspired by other online classrooms
Take inspiration from other schools that are using online classrooms. Check within your immediate network for the schools that have recently started using online classroom tools. Do not limit to one school to get inspiration. Look for as many online classroom case studies as possible. Then compile a list of best practices and try to follow the same with your online classrooms.
3. Create the school profile and setup branding
Once you selected the platform provider, then it is time to set up the profile of the school and spend time on designing the online school branding. You can seek help from the platform provider as most of the platforms will provide free training on setting up the online classroom for the first time. Make sure you are using high-quality designs to represent the school branding.
4. Prepare the Offline Tools
You need offline tools like video cameras and accessories to record the classes for uploading. If this demands upfront investment in cost and teachers’ training, you can start by recording the classes on mobile phones. These classes can either streamed live or recorded to upload and share later. Some tools provide the feature to auto-record the live streams for accessing later.
5. Digital Tools & Online Integrations
If you are using a high-level learning management system, you will require other digital tools like presentation tools, video editing tools, documenting tools, etc. Along with these, you can look for experience-enhancing integrations provided with the online platform. Check in the vendors’ integration library to improve the online classroom experience. These integrations can also save a lot of precious time by automating the repeated tasks.
6. Create the First Course
Once the platform is ready and all the basic contents are also ready in the form of documents, presentations, and videos, you can start creating the first course. Create the course divided across lessons and subjects. Take the online course from the provider on how to create an engaging online course.
Always look for ways to innovate the course creation and presentation. Go a step further from what you have learned from the tutorials and other online classrooms. There are various ways to innovate starting from the recording of the video to the arrangement of course contents. You can take inspiration from professional youtube content creators.
8. Invite Collaborators
Once the course is in progress, you can start inviting collaborators without waiting for the course to be complete. The collaborators can be other teachers in the school or other subject experts. Collaborators will help you create the content and can point out any mistakes in the course content. Most of the tools provide option to leave comments by the collaborators.
9. Invite Learners
Once the courses are created and all identified mistakes are corrected, you can invite the learners. This can be done in bulk or step by step. Depending on the platform’s features you can invite learners by their mobile numbers or email id. Set the privileges of the collaborators and learners according to the options given in the platform.
10. Schedule Automatic Alerts
It is also very important to engage the learners by reminding them to access the platform regularly. This can be achieved by sending notification emails, providing access to the course content in steps and also by conducting frequent live classes. You can also create WhatsApp and Facebook groups to keep in touch with the learners.
11. Participate in Q & A discussions
This is the best way to increase the engagement level of the online classroom. Promote discussions for each topic. There will be a discussion or Q&A feature available in the learning management tool. Instruct the students to keep posting their doubts and queries in this section and provide clarifications and answers asap. Encourage students also to provide answers to questions posted by other students.
12. Run Live Classes
Conduct frequent live classes to improve the engagement of learners. The live classes can be conducted by the features available in the learning management system or by integrating with a popular online video conferencing tool. Most of these video conferencing tools also provide teacher-friendly features like whiteboards and discussions.
13. Integrate Analytics & Marketing tools
While integrating external tools, do not forget to integrate a good analytical tool. This tool can show data about the usage and engagement within the platform. This data can be referred to improve the online classroom experience. The marketing tools can automate promotional activities and email newsletters.
14. Promote Mobile Learning
Most of the learning management software provides a mobile app. Some tools like Uzity, Moodle provide custom rebranded mobile app for the school. The mobile app can bring more engagement and realtime learning for the learners. If you are looking for the right learning management solution for your school to set up an online classroom, try Uzity.