With school classrooms all but empty a Griffith University education expert has created a free online resource for teachers eager to keep students engaged remotely.

Dr Sarah Prestridge.

School of Education and Professional Studies academic Dr Sarah Prestridge acknowledges keeping kids away from gaming and movies while they should be completing coursework during COVID-19 self-isolation is a major challenge, but explains how this can be used to their advantage in the Teaching Rapid Response Series.

“Students will not stop learning just because they are not in schools, they have an innate need to learn,” Dr Prestridge said.

“However, in a classroom the teacher regulates both the time and effort that a child attributes to a task.

“Students are not used to self-regulating, but they can learn these important skills and to be able to learn online will help them learn beyond schools.”

Dr Prestridge and PhD candidate Deniese Cox have created 17 videos — 16 for teachers and one for parents – which explain the necessary requirements to create a successful online learning environment.

“We’re talking about spicing it up online, so things that just might help engage the students and keep things fun as we move to online learning at home,” she said.

Some of the ways Dr Prestridge suggests “spicing up” learning includes setting challenges or friendly competitions, collaborating with peers through online platforms such as the Google or Microsoft suites, and representing concepts in a different way — like a scavenger hunt that involves sending images that represent a concept or making their own instructional videos.

Dr Prestridge said she recognised the need for something like the videos in mid-March and quickly sprang into action to create them in less than two days, knowing teachers would be desperate for a resource to help keep their learners on track.

Harnessing online tools can help keep students on track.

“Teachers have mostly not been trained in online education,” she said.

“This is not a deficit model as all teachers have the capabilities for teaching online, but we need to provide the support of teachers in changing the way they engineer learning.”

She urged parents to be kind and patient with their children, teachers and themselves by practicing a positive mindset.

“Parents are the students’ ‘first teachers’ and in this context, the key person in maintaining successful learning,” she said.

“Everyone is figuring this out together — you, your child and your teacher.

“We can take advantage of technologies, the instructions provided by teachers and the support of parents.

“It’s new for many people and while this is a work in progress, together it will become easier.”

Dr Prestridge is now in the process of creating a second series of informational video clips for teachers, as teachers this week begin preparing for what may be a long stretch of online learning.