In the coming years, students ranging from early learners to university students are expected to largely replace traditional classroom environments with virtual platforms, including online demonstrations, lectures, and discussions between instructors and peers. But in order for distance learning to be successful, it’s important to minimize distractions in virtual live classrooms. Let’s review 14 ways to effectively reduce interruptions for students and teachers.
Managing Distractions in a Virtual Live Classroom
Although virtual classrooms are the most efficient setup for teachers and learners to avoid the current risks of the pandemic, all parties will need time to adapt to a new platform. And, of course, one of the main challenges is managing distractions. Unlike in a traditional classroom setting, teachers are not physically present to ensure that students are focused and actively participating in class.
There are a few factors to consider. For instance, not all students have the luxury of a separate study room where they can focus without distractions. On top of that, the use of technology for virtual learning can also become a student’s biggest distraction from learning. Sure, it sounds ironic, but any student can see their phones and laptops as devices for browsing social media and playing games, rather than doing assignments. To lessen the distractions in a virtual live classroom, here are a few tips that can help you.
Top 14 Tips to Handle Distractions in the Virtual Classroom
Find a quiet place for online classroom meetings
The most effective way to minimize distractions is to designate a study room for remote meetings. This could be a space in the guest room, a corner in the living room, or the dining area. Just make sure that distractions, like toys and other gadgets, are put away before the start of the virtual classroom. Replace these things with books, pens, and other related materials. It is also important to make sure that the learning area has comfortable seating, a well-regulated temperature, and good light for studying.
Make sure your computer and Internet connection work properly
Ensure that your computer is working and capable of handling virtual classes. Check your Internet speed and stability, too. Preparation can help prevent unexpected lag times or disconnections that can delay or interfere with your participation in class. Some schools help students get access to a stronger Internet connection to ensure that virtual classes remain uninterrupted. Feel free to ask your school about any programs they’re setting up to help students with connectivity issues.
Block access to distracting websites and send calls to voicemail
Social media notifications, unwanted calls, pop-up chats, and even funny memes are just a click away if you don't turn off your phone. If you can't fully disconnect, keep your phone on silent and transfer calls to voicemail. Block distracting websites on your computer, such as Facebook, to further avoid interruptions. These are effective ways to stay focused at all times.
Young learners should have multiple 15-30 minute breaks to eat, go outside, and play, to recharge themselves before returning to the session at hand. Taking short breaks can help you recharge and refocus. Once you feel fresh and energized, you are less likely to be distracted. This will help you to engage more consistently with the whole class.
Treat virtual classes like real classes
Just because virtual classes are not held in classrooms, and the teacher is not physically present, this doesn't mean that learners are free to do whatever they want during a lecture. Learners should see that virtual classes are no longer the alternative. Virtual live classrooms are quickly becoming the "new normal,” so students should take virtual classes seriously.
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While instructors can send or post notes and make them available for download, it's a good idea to take notes during an online learning session. The habit of taking notes is an effective way to stay engaged during the lecture. You have to keep up with your instructor's pace, which requires focus and concentration.
Block off class sessions to avoid unexpected calls or visits
Studying at home can be harder if there are other people in the house. A simple greeting, tap on the shoulder, or knock on the door can be a distraction. This is why you need a separate room or personal space where you can attend virtual live classrooms peacefully. It's best to let your family members know your schedule, so they understand when to reach out and when you need to focus.
Set a routine
If your classes are self-paced, you will need to set a routine. This is to ensure that you can track your lectures on time and submit worksheets before deadlines. It’s important to create a routine and stick to it. For self-paced virtual learning programs, create your own schedule, considering the hours when you’re the most productive. For most people, studying in the morning is an efficient time to attend classes. You then have the rest of the day to finish schoolwork and other leisure activities.
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Use the waiting room feature to ensure security
Many platforms used for virtual classrooms have waiting room features where the students can wait before they’re allowed to enter the virtual classroom. This feature ensures that only authorized students are able to join the discussion, and keeps classroom sessions secure from intruders.
Adapt guidelines according to the specific needs of the class
You need to adapt guidelines based on the needs of your class. Online lessons for young children are different from classroom sessions with college students. For instance, young students have a shorter attention span. If you're teaching children, it's best to coordinate with parents and guardians for the most viable solutions to keep young learners focused.
Use rewards to limit distracted, fidgety behavior
Distracting movements are common among young learners, such as spinning in their chairs, wiggling, getting off the chair and running around are all typical in a traditional classroom setting. Use rewards, such as playtime or a snack break, in exchange for focus and participation in class. This may also require parents to cooperate with instructors to ensure that the rewards are given on time to reinforce positive behavior.
Regulate the use of phones
In traditional classrooms, it's easier to prohibit the use of phones during sessions. Unfortunately, it's the other way around for virtual classrooms. It's even in a gray area since some students may use their phones as a secondary device during class.
The best way to combat distractions is to coordinate with parents and guardians. You can ask for their help in assuring that student phones are only used for school-related activities. Adult supervision is highly advised.
Use breakout rooms
Breakout rooms are virtual rooms where learners can group themselves and work together as a team. These could be chat rooms where learners can interact, work, and collaborate on projects. They act as a mini classroom setup. Allowing time for these room sessions is useful in breaking up the monotony of classroom discussions. Learners, especially young kids, may also find the breakout room the closest thing that they have to an actual group interaction with their classmates.
Use brainteasers, icebreakers, humor and music
Virtual classrooms should produce a fun, exciting learning environment to retain the attention of students. Teachers are encouraged to use humor, brainteasers, music, and colorful visuals to keep them interested. This is not only applicable during class discussions. You can also use such tools when directly interacting with students. This encourages focus and participation.
Enhancing Virtual Live Classroom Setups
Learning and teaching in an online classroom can be challenging, especially in the first few weeks or months. But, with enough preparation, these learning sessions can be as productive as traditional classroom sessions. Minimize and avoid distractions completely by choosing the best study areas, turning off useless notifications, and participating during discussions, as well as setting a reliable classroom schedule. Or, if you’re a teacher, create an engaging and interesting learning environment, come up with a refined approach, and encourage engagement.
If you’re ready to optimize your online classroom setup further, work with us. At ReadyTech, we provide efficient and excellent virtual learning solutions that benefit both instructors and students. Learn more about our services by getting in touch with us at (800) 707-1009.