Top Tips for Online Learning

With the world in lockdown every teacher is having to make adaptations for online distance learning. To help speed your learning journey,  here are seven top tips that I've curated from the experts Harry Fletcher-Wood and Dr Nina Wood at the Education Hub.

1. Students attention spans are going to be far shorter. We know that there are many distractions for children at home and they are definitely not dedicating six hours of their day for school work. We don't want to overload parents either - if there is too much content and they have multiple children things get very tricky. A couple of hours of learning a day is great. In fact, my 11 to 13 year old students tend to clock out after about 90 - so I make the most of them!

2. Your learning activities need to be simple. We don't have the chance to meet face to face with students, to answer questions as they arise, so our tasks need to be easily introduced and explained. It is helpful to use a similar format each week (or the same format they would use at school), to further simplify the task. You want the students to put energy into the content itself and not interpreting the task. I've been structuring my lessons the same each day and sharing student work as exemplars.

3. Now is NOT a great time to introduce lots of new digital tools, unless you know one or two are definitely going to make your life easier. Ideally, you would be hearing from lots of teachers who have used this before and can talk you through the use of the tool. If you get too ambitious and use too many new tools, you are overcomplicating your tasks and the students may disengage.

4. Allocate a set time for social interaction and then move into the teaching. It is so important to give the learners a chance to communicate and share their thoughts and feelings. If you attempt to alternate between the lesson and off topic conversation, things can get messy and you can confuse your learners. I always start my sessions with 5- 10 mins of sharing before we get started with the content.

5. For some students, communicating via video chat can be daunting. They may be anxious about being put on the spot or being asked to share their thoughts with the class. You can alleviate this anxiety by allowing them to type their thoughts or questions using the chat feature. This is also a fantastic way of quickly getting answers to your questions!

6. Social cues break down over video chat. I'm sure you've noticed this when chatting with a group of friends or family members. In larger groups, there can be several awkward pauses or moments where everyone speaks at once. It is far more challenging to 'read the room' due to lag and/or frozen screens. It is important to pause regularly and check that your students are following. Using the chat box is a great quick way to get a read on how your students are doing. If the answer is 'no' or 'I'm okay' ask the students to type that!

7. Try and get consistent messaging and timetabling across syndicates and the school. Ideally everyone would have similar expectations - e.g. all teachers are allocated an hour, 30 minutes for a video call and 30 minutes for work completion. Then all literacy teachers teach at the same time to avoid timetabling conflict. We have set times for different teams, so if students are sharing a device they can take turns at joining their class for a video call.


  1. Thank you so much for your advice and sharing. It has been so valuable for me and my students.

    1. Thanks so much Chrissy - I learn heaps from you as well. We will have to stay in touch!

  2. Kia ora Danni,
    Great tips and reflections on your Online Learning. I like the idea of managing the time of Google Meets for different teams across the school. Great idea.


    1. Thanks Maria, I know how helpful this is for families who share a device or room.

  3. Thank you so much Danny for the sweet and simple tips for online learning. Will pass this on to our Glenbrae Staff.

  4. Thanks for the great tips, will be implementing ta :>

  5. I found this timely and really helpful. Concise and clear. Thanks for the share.


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