Creativity and Innovation Shine Through Remote Learning

Teachers and students alike have taken online learning to new heights with some digital magic!

Apr 4, 2020

Over the past few weeks, with kids quarantined at home, schools have fully embraced everything digital as they adapt to offer online courses. With video chats replacing in-person lessons, feedback provided over WhatsApp, and communications with teachers happening through email, in many ways, education is reinventing itself with the help of some digital wizardry!

As a teacher, this transition has been a learning process for me as well. I have spent countless hours searching the internet for the perfect grammar game or interactive video that will even engage the most disinterested learners. But perhaps I’ve been doing it all wrong Instead of sending links and appearing on camera in my “fancy” pajamas, I should have followed Professor Jiang Fei and his avatar, an anime schoolgirl!

Anime teacher!
A digital art professor at Shanghai University’s Fine Arts College, Professor Jiang Fei, found himself, like most educators, needing to think outside of the box. He considered what would capture the attention of his students and encourage them to log in and learn. He took this opportunity to write software which can transform him into different avatars in real time as he teaches in a virtual classroom. He has successfully created characters ranging from robots to monsters, but the crowd favorite is the anime schoolgirl:

According to The Sun newspaper, “reports suggest the students were finding the teaching more engaging this way.”

Graduating on Minecraft!
Another innovative use of technology can be found in Japan. Since Japanese schools are closed until at least after their spring break, students will miss their graduation. The Japanese school year ends in March and begins in April, causing all students to move directly into the next grade level without a commencement ceremony.

Students in elementary school did not take this news lightly and brainstormed a creative way to address this new reality: “If they couldn’t have a graduation ceremony at school, then why not have one digitally in a place they all meet often anyway… in Minecraft!” reports SoraNews24. This virtual event was created and set up entirely by the young students themselves, joining several other schools in this endeavor to “repurpose” Minecraft gaming. They may have even enjoyed this Minecraft-sponsored graduation more than the real thing!

Surviving and thriving!
While remote learning has made an impact on students, it affects the way teachers experience school as well. An associate professor of history and political science at Missouri University of Science and Technology named Michael Bruening wrote an online teaching-themed cover of the song “I Will Survive.” According to Bruening, he only had two days to adjust all of his lessons to fit an online format. The song has gone viral in teaching circles with almost two million views! “I am overwhelmed by the positive response so far, and I am extremely gratified that the song seems to have brought just a little joy to people during this crisis.” For a lighthearted laugh, you can view the whole song here.

With traditional classrooms now taking a digital form, imagination and originality can flow freely. Whether you decide to become an anime avatar, host an event on Minecraft or record a hit cover song, now is the time to embrace your ideas and individuality.

Something I will personally take advantage of is choosing an exciting background for my video calls with students. Zoom provides a large range of backgrounds to choose from and some people have even created their own. Here, William Grover took the Hogwarts route:

Just be sure that you don’t make the same mistake as Tim Jones with his very unusual video chat avatar

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JACKIE SCHINDLER, CONTIRBUTOR
Jackie Schindler teaches EFL to students between the ages of 5-15. She is passionate about making English relevant, fun and memorable. She always tries to look on the bright side in every situation. She is an avid reader, writer, traveler and always on the hunt for the best iced coffee.