Here is their advice as well as suggestions for tools that teachers can use to heed this advice.
Advice for Online Learning Educators
1. Socialization is important!
Teenagers value the ability to socialize and they don’t want to lose that online. Provide opportunities for students to meet, get to know each other, work together, and connect deeply in your online classes. Teens want you to make it fun for them. While they certainly enjoy the benefits of working independently, they appreciate opportunities to work in pairs, groups, and with other class members. Help foster this by creating projects and online spaces for them to work this way.
- Skype or Google Video: Great for projects where students work in pairs.
- Google+ Hangout: Works well for students meeting and working in groups.
- Facebook Page: Wonderful for whole class discussion and interaction in a space where other experts and students can participate.
- Fieldtrips: Give students opportunties to learn together in the world.
2. Students Want to See Each Other
Students want to have a chance to get to know their classmates just as they can in a face-to-face environment. This means seeing one another so they can put a name and a personality with a face.
- Web cam: Teachers may want to consider having times when their students are the ones who have the ability to be on the web cam.
- Google+ Hangout: Schedule groups of up to ten students with Google+ Hangout so students and their teacher can see one another as they talk, learn, and discuss their area of study.
- Video: Provide opportunities for students to submit work using video response shared in a place where other students can watch, comment, and discuss.
- UStream: Allow students to present to their classmates (and authentic audiences) using UStream. Encourage classmates to leave text and video comments on one another's work.
- Use Flickr to easily create instant slideshows that capture students via picture or video sharing their thoughts, feedback, and ideas.
3. Students Want to See Their Teacher
Students want to get to know who their teacher is. Seeing them helps. They appreciate the ability to see their teacher speaking to them.
- Webcams: Use a web cam if possible so your students can see you.
- Skype: Students enjoy using Skype so they can see their teacher and their teacher can see them.
- Video: Consider giving students feedback with a video.
4. Students Want You to Know Them
It is important to online students that you know who they are. Provide opportunities in their work for them to include something personal. This might be pictures of them and their life or thoughts from members of their family or community. Set up times where you can engage in one-on-one chats. Reach out to your students via text to help make a personal connection using a tool they love.
- Video: Encourage students to use video in their work where you have the opportunity to see and get to know them. You may want to consider having them create channels on a video service like YouTube or Vimeo.
- Glogster: Have students create digital posters that include text as well as photos and video.
- Set up group texting to quickly and easily send students reminders, encouragement, important information, and learning tips/ideas/suggestions.
5. Keep it Relevant
Just like face-to-face classes, students complain that what they learn online often seems irrelevant to their lives. Students want to know why they need to know this stuff. Consider providing an explanation with each unit or chapter that addresses this.
- Video: Have former students explain to students how they've used this learning in the real world.
- YouTube: Bring the learning to life with video clips that connect this learning to how it occurs or is applied in life.
- Skype and Expert: Invite an expert to speak to your class about the real-world relevance of this learning.