With Covid-19 restrictions preventing face-to-face learning on a regular basis, virtual learning has suddenly become an important part of our daily lives. Many classes resume on Microsoft Teams or Zoom in an environment where social etiquettes can become strained and daunting at times. With a new means of learning comes a whole new approach to class engagement and student success. As a result, there are times when we can feel unsure of how to go about sharing an idea with our classmates or meet time restraints at a pre-Covid speed.
The technicalities of virtual learning have hit the music and performing arts world the hardest. Trying to rehearse is complicated with varying internet speeds and a lack of genuine performance space. In this blog, we’re going to consider the top 6 issues with virtual learning that nearly everyone, regardless of their specialism, can relate to and should be conscious of…
- Choosing the Right Virtual Learning Tool: There are a number of virtual platforms intended for large groups to connect. Actually picking one doesn’t seem like the trickiest part until you discover the holes: the class has varying levels of experience with different facilities and features, or one option might be better for sharing what’s on your screen whilst another is less user friendly in this department, yet more efficient in another! The reality is, the perfect user-friendly virtual learning experience just might not be out there yet, so in the mean time you’ll need to pick one tool and have patience with your cohort as they learn it’s full functionality and find ways around it’s more confusing elements.
- Virtual Learning Environments that Don’t Suit What’s Being Taught: A lot of the most popular virtual platforms aren’t specifically designed for learning or aren’t specifically tailored to your needs. They are useful resources for bringing together a team of people despite geographical complications, but that doesn’t mean these tools are designed for bringing together a team of people for learning. Often, these tools don’t always create a stimulating environment for engaging students. Ideally, a popular virtual platform suited for learning would be the remedy. We need to think innovatively about how we can use these virtual environments in a way that still makes learning the enjoyable experience it should be.
- Teaching Resources Aren’t Available Remotely: Virtual platforms don’t include a pen and paper for drawing a quick diagram when explaining something. They don’t hold the essential resources that are required when teaching music or making art. Whilst each pupil can obtain these resources it’s still difficult to share anything that isn’t digital through your screen. Some tools for drawing ideas or matching the pace of your orchestra exist in digital formats elsewhere, but it would sure be a lot easier if all of these things were in one place as opposed to scattered across a number of different online applications. Juggling different resources and staying as tech savvy as possible is the best way to share resources and ideas with your team.
- There’s a Lack of Multimodality: By multimodality we mean the range of different processes through which people absorb information. These include, visual, aural, gestural, spatial, and linguistic. Some people need action in order to take information in and this simply isn’t available in a stagnant virtual environment. A virtual learning platform that could facilitate more of these modalities would be preferable. More communication tools and resources could support this. The best way to tackle a lack of multimodality is to reinvent lessons to include activities that encourage us to move or engage with something interactive and stimulating.
- Lower Motivation Levels: This is true for students and teachers. Staying positive and optimistic when a lesson plan doesn’t go ahead as intended because your platform of choice is causing complications can be disheartening. Likewise, this experience can cause students to feel disconnected. It’s easy to grow disengaged when you don’t share a physical space with the people on your screen, so it’s imperative that interactive features be shared on platforms to generate concentration and interest. Use a variety of interesting content and media forms during classes and stay positive!
- Non-User Friendly Tools: Each popular application has a different way of performing basic functions. Some of these functions feel intuitive whilst others appear to be much trickier to get to grips with. If you find a platform that works, the rest of your team may not feel the same way about it. Ideally, a popular platform that’s easy to use, fast, and straight-forward for all would be the answer. Taking the time to learn with your team about the more complicated processes that come with your platform of choice is the definitive way to ensure that everyone can work around the more confusing features.
Virtual learning tools aren’t often suited to everyone and a lot of the popular applications being used to run lessons aren’t ideal for teaching. However, further facilities are being developed and perfected in this area as demand for bespoke learning tools increases. If you’re currently using one of the popular platforms available, remember that these applications are incredible for remaining connected virtually, it just might involve some getting used to, patience, learning, and manoeuvring before things can run smoothly.
For more information about the kind of equipment you may need for learning remotely, read our blog Smart Equipment Investments for Your Online Tuition Business.