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Education

Online Learning Expert Shares Tips On How To Make Virtual Classes Work

Young student raising hand in online virtual learning class
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Many parents are concerned about how to make remote learning work. UT-Arlington professor Peggy Semingson has a few tips for the coming school year.

With school back in session in several districts across North Texas, many students are enrolled in virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many parents are concerned about how to make remote learning work.

Peggy Semingson is a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington who studies online learning. She spoke with KERA's Justin Martin about the advice she'd give to parents and families as they navigate the school year online.

Interview Highlights:

This has been lightly edited for clarity.

Making Sure Families Are Connected

One of the main challenges is technology gadgets.

So deciding, you know, which tools are going to be used, some families are sharing gadgets, laptops. WiFi was an issue in the spring, across the state of Texas, so just making sure everyone had WiFi.

So just getting launched is step one, making sure everybody has access to technology so they can participate.

On Keeping Kids Relaxed And Focused

Setting up the right space is important. I've seen pictures where it just almost looks like an office space for students.

I would say the younger they are the more breaks they need from screen time. There's a lot of research on the disadvantages of too much screen time. So definitely taking breaks.

If parents are home, just kind of helping encourage their kids, helping reinforce the schedule, setting a schedule for the kids that really helps. So I think you used the word 'structure'. That's going to be really important.

Different Needs For K-12

I would say more parent involvement is needed at the elementary levels. Older kids can function a bit more independently.

They'll need some positive reinforcement. I think honestly, to go back to the tool use just getting them set up is the hardest part.

And then, adjusting for schedules; people with multiple children in the household are going to be the most challenged. So just setting up everybody's schedule and getting started is the hardest part. From there, I think the teachers can kind of take over.

Got a tip? Email Justin Martin at Jmartin@kera.org. You can follow Justin on Twitter @MisterJMart.

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