UNESCO suggested ten recommendations for the school to plan a distance learning solution to ensure that learning remains uninterrupted during the COVID-19 pandemics.
1. Prioritize solutions to address psychosocial challenges before teaching
Gather available tools to connect schools, parents, teachers, and students with each other. Create communities to ensure regular human interactions, enable caring social measures, and address possible psychosocial challenges that students may face when they are isolated.
2. Plan the study schedule of the distance learning programs
Organize discussions with stakeholders to examine the possible duration of school closures and decide whether the distance learning program should focus on teaching new knowledge or enhance students’ knowledge of prior lessons. Plan the schedule depending on the situation of the affected zones, level of studies, needs of student needs, and availability of parents. Choose the appropriate teaching method based on school closure and home-based quarantine conditions. Avoid teaching method that usually requires face-to-face communication.
3. Provide support to teachers and parents on the use of digital tools
When needed for monitoring and facilitation, conduct brief training or orientation sessions for teachers and parents as well. Help teachers prepare basic settings such as solutions for the use of Internet data if they need to provide live streaming of lessons.
4. Blend appropriate approaches and limit the number of applications and platforms
Blend tools or media that are available to most students for both synchronous communication and text and asynchronous learning. Ask students and parents to download and test multiple applications or platforms to avoid overloading.
5. Develop distance learning rules and monitor students' learning process
Define the rules with parents and students on distance learning. Design formative questions, tests, or exercises to monitor students’ learning process closely. Try to use tools to support the submission of students’ feedback and avoid overloading parents by requesting them to scan and send students’ feedback.
6. Define the duration of distance learning units based on students' self-regulation skills
Maintain a consistent time according to the level of self-regulation and identified abilities of students, especially for live-streaming classes. Preferably, the unit should not exceed 20 minutes for primary school students and no more than 40 minutes for secondary school students.
7. Create communities and enhance connection
Create communities of teachers, parents, and school managers to address the sense of loneliness or helplessness, facilitate sharing of experience and discussion on coping strategies when facing learning difficulties (UNESCO 2020).
8. Examine the readiness and choose the most relevant tools
Decide on the use of high-technology and low-technology solutions based on the reliability of local power supplies, internet connectivity, and digital skills of teachers and students. This could range through integrated digital learning platforms, video lessons, MOOCs, to broadcasting through radios and T.V.s.
9. Ensure inclusion of the distance learning programs
Implement measures to ensure that students, including those with disabilities or from low-income backgrounds, have access to distance learning programs if only a limited number of them have access to digital devices. Consider temporarily decentralizing such devices from computer labs to families and support them with internet connectivity.
10. Protect data privacy and data security
Assess data security when uploading data or educational resources to web spaces, as well as when sharing them with other organizations or individuals. Ensure that the use of applications and platforms does not violate students’ data privacy.