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distance learning:

Overcoming tech

challenges in

early education

Author: Heidi Vella

As the pandemic swept around the world, remote teaching and distance learning very quickly became the new normal for students and teachers. Innovative technology deployments made the shift possible, but the transition has not been easy.

Providing kindergarten distance learning for students has been particularly challenging. Children at kindergarten age—between 5 and 7 years old—may have shorter attention spans and require more guidance from teachers. They might also lack intrinsic motivation and basic literacy skills.

Education leaders need reliable ways to connect to young students. Where can they find them?

Challenges in distance learning for kindergarten

Even under the best circumstances, teaching young children can be challenging. Engaging young children through a screen can be even more demanding. Children can benefit from being around their peers; a typical kindergarten classroom might incorporate movement and physical exploration into a lesson plan. Without the physical presence of a teacher or teaching assistant, it is possible that children might disrupt class, wander off or simply not engage.

Providing clear and concise remote instruction can also be difficult when tools and space are limited. Supportive parents or guardians can help teachers demonstrate skills and tasks, but the level and quality of support vary from child to child, and that can exacerbate existing inequalities.

Addressing challenges through technology

There is no kindergarten distance learning —or distance learning of any kind at any age level—without technology. Not every child has the same access to adequate devices and reliable networks—the cornerstone of successful digital learning—at home. Accentuated inequalities make it even harder for teachers to engage remote learners.

Not all teachers are on the same technological footing, either. Students and teachers alike can be frustrated by overly complex apps. And young children might not be able to log in to applications on their own. They will need an adult to help them—but that assumes that the adult is technically literate.

It is best to keep things simple. Invest time in one or two intuitive online tools that work well for what is required instead of chopping and changing applications.

Digital tools for kindergarten distance learning

Despite its challenges, effective remote learning for kindergarten is possible—and even fun—when everyone has the right tools. But some applications are more successful at motivating, engaging and teaching young children, especially children with low levels of literacy or motivation.

Using a tool where students can send short video responses to tasks set by their teachers would support a social learning environment. The whole class can then watch these short videos to generate constructive feedback or facilitate further discussion.  Creating these personal videos can also motivate students who might be shy about participating—especially students with social anxieties and students who do not read well—by giving them time to prepare their responses.

Tools like these also help children break into smaller groups and work more closely with educators and their classmates. Small-group learning can get students engaged and create a sense of connectedness.

Network requirements for remote learning tools

Applications for kindergarten distance learning classes require two things. They need some sort of device, like a laptop, tablet or smartphone. They also need access to the internet, whether via broadband, a mobile network or an ethernet connection.

But, as educators are all too aware, the better the network connection, the more seamless the experience. Having the processing power and network data to support taking and sharing videos and streaming online lessons is a must. Education providers might want to upgrade their network provision to business-grade wireless connectivity or a dedicated internet service that offers greater reliability and bandwidth at an affordable cost.

The cloud is, by now, a standard part of remote teaching; many popular remote learning applications are cloud-based. Cloud services can help schools provide easy access to remote resources without needing to increase on-site network capacity.

Informing the path forward

The pandemic rushed some schools into online-first education, but efforts to overcome the challenges of remote learning have resulted in new skills and tools that will be useful for years to come.

Virtual communication is now more commonly linked with the future of work and education, and giving children and teachers the skills to use virtual applications is vital. It might have been challenging at first, but kindergarten distance learning has highlighted the importance of a robust IT network—and that online learning can be as fun as it is effective.

Learn how Verizon can support kindergarten distance learning solutions.