4 Expert Tips to Remote Learning SuccessBy: Amy Gori, Instructor at Momentum
Remote learning has been a trending topic since early March. But what does a code school need to do in order to help students succeed while learning remotely? And how can students set themselves up for success? With over 35 years of software development experience, Momentum's expert instructors put together this remote instruction guide and best practices to help students thrive in a virtual setting. These four expert tips not only offer advice for those looking to learn remotely, but also for instructors seeking ways to support their students.
1. Prepare for success
Learning remotely isn’t just about learning how to code. Before getting into the technical software development skills, it’s important to learn the practical, classroom technologies that will be used during the course, and likely in their subsequent career as well. Prior to beginning a course, students should take time to familiarize themselves with core programs. By learning the ins and outs of commonly used programs before beginning the course, students set themselves up for success, and minimize the technological learning curve.
In order to ensure that students can hit the ground running, instructors should begin their course by walking students through the course’s frequently used technologies (such as Slack and Zoom). Instructors should also provide clear guidance on how each tech tool will be used during the course, and establish the best communication channels. Establishing this solid foundation for communication, and beginning with a common language helps both students and instructors prepare for a successful term.
2. Stay connected
In addition to the classwide channels and forums, it’s also helpful to create smaller channels. These smaller threads can be used to work out specific types of problems, or merely to establish smaller study groups. In study groups, students can ask questions, share tips, and ask for feedback on their code. Learning to lean on classmates is also a great introduction to the way most professional environments call on us to collaborate with colleagues.
Instructors should encourage breakout sessions during their course, because working with small groups allows students to try out their new skills, and “learn by doing.” Overall, working in smaller groups helps students feel more connected to their classmates, and supported by their network. Instructors should do their best to foster an environment where communication is not only encouraged, but facilitated.
3. Be Flexible
Remote learning offers both students and instructors the opportunity to craft their own learning environment. Because remote learning means that we are not physically together, it’s important to check in often, and maintain flexibility. As a student, if you find yourself struggling, and student channels are not alleviating your stress, don’t get stuck! Try another approach, like reaching out to an instructor directly. In addition to flexibility in the way you seek guidance, be flexible in your participation. Unlike a classroom environment, remote learning offers new ways to immerse yourself in the classroom community. Try joining in on things like classwide polls, emoji reactions, and stay up to date with the slack channels. When learning remotely, there are many avenues you can utilize to get help - don’t be afraid to chime in on a channel, solicit feedback, or ask for help in ways that you may not have considered before!
At Momentum, we have always focused on experiential learning in and out of the classroom. Now, in a remote setting and with our low student teacher ratios, we offer even more opportunities for students to engage with instructors. Our goal is to always offer instructor visibility and regular check-ins so students feel supported. We recognize that every student has different needs, and it's important to find the best ways for students to stay engaged in the material and with each other. Out instructors strive to stay flexible in their teaching practices, knowing that what works for one cohort might not work for the next.
Remote instruction and remote learning is a new challenge for most. That being the case, it’s important for students to cast a wide net in their efforts to succeed while learning remotely. Open your ears to not just your instructor, and your classmates, but professional advice, and guides to success - like this!
On the other hand, instructors should create ongoing opportunities to receive feedback and answer questions. Offering opportunities for students to submit honest (and often anonymous) feedback, is an irreplaceable way to help instructors understand what they’re doing right, but also identify areas for improvement. At such a time, it’s so important to listen and learn from one another and meet the educational, social, and emotional needs of students so that they succeed in class and in their new tech careers. At Momentum, we use student feedback to influence the way we iterate our courses. We test instruction ideas suggested by students and experiment with new approaches until we find what’s most effective for students.
During this unprecedented time, both students and instructors are learning the best ways to succeed in a remote environment. Our final advice is this:
Prospective students: In your search to find the right bootcamp during this time - don’t be afraid to ask schools specific questions about how they’re helping students adjust to remote learning. You should be confident in the way you will be supported during your course before signing on!
Instructors: Now’s the time to experiment with virtual experiences and tools that enhance remote learning for students.