Online learning is something that has been thrust onto a lot of us lately during these strange times. Many of us, perhaps until recently, have never opted for online classes. Online classes provide many wonderful and exciting opportunities for students, but they can also be tricky to adjust to, particularly when kids find it difficult to retain focus and concentration during the lengthy sessions. The Kidizens team has been successfully able to migrate to the online world and we’re able to engage the kids in our highly interactive and fun sessions. As we continue to unravel how to make online learning engaging, we have come to believe the following most important things to make online learning models successful –
A supportive online community
We at Kidizens have always provided a social, collaborative environment to help children build cities and communities. We have adopted similar philosophy to create a supportive community by nurturing personal relationships, encouraging friendships and using a variety of ways and formats to communicate. Socializing and emotional learning has been the lynchpin of all Kidizens programs and we have continued to emphasize it for online learning.
We believe this is the fundamental aspect of Kidizens critical thinking framework which encourages kids to think and present their ideas in a group setting. Most of these discussions have continued online, giving almost equal opportunity to all kids to present ideas, ask questions and provide answers. In addition, breakout sessions have been utilizied for even more personalized interactions.
An organized schedule
This one may seem like a no-brainer but it is especially easy to get lost or jump around when teaching virtually. The Kidizens team worked together to create a minute-by-minute curriculum and lesson plans that have shown to maximize learning and keep kids on track. We have also allowed for teachers to be flexible and prepared when any unexpected challenges arise.
A focus on active and immersive learning
Instructors often times talk or lecture for a long while to fill in time during learning. A “normal” attention span for a child is 3-5 minutes per year for their age. Since we work with young kids, this isn’t very long which is why we focus on active learning to keep kids engaged. We use a mix of hands-on activities, games, discussions and lessons to help reduce burn out and boost kids’ learning potential. In addition, an immersive city-building framework continues to provide kids a common anchor for their attention distractions.
Most of Kidizens classes involve group discussions and student proposal making and presentations. Similarly, effective student engagement technique is to have students present often and utilize online media to make it impactful. The LEGO projects help the kids present their creative ideas and solutions to everyone, sparking creative thinking and motivation for other kids, all across the board.