Long distance learning has become more important than ever now due to schools closing down from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left teachers and administrations scrambling to figure out how to continue education from home with a classroom of kids with no known date that things will return to normal. Teaching is already difficult when students are a captive audience in class, now imagine trying to coordinate with 20 different homes with varying levels of access to computers or devices and varying levels of commitment from parents...
Luckily, Great Leaps Digital has already been implemented at a distance from private tutors for several years and we were able to help our schools and students get back up and running with their reading remediation. Reading is such an essential skill for all students, it’s encouraging to see it get prioritized during all of this. If you are in need of a reading program that can be used at a distance, Great Leaps is a great option and here’s some information to get you started and tips for using Great Leaps Digital at a distance.
Also if you are a parent looking for online reading tutoring, we’ve got you covered. Just go to tutoring.greatleaps.com, create an account and sign up for a reading screening with one of our trained tutors to see if it’s right for you!
1. Sign Up for a Free-Trial
To see if this is right for you, every new account starts with a 14-day free trial that will allow you to add up to 10 students. Giving it a shot is free and easy to set up, so why not give it a try? https://digital.greatleaps.com/account/sign-up
2. It Works on Any Device or Operating System
You never know what type of devices your students may have access to. Because of this, Great Leaps Digital is a web-application. This means you can access it on any relatively updated internet connected device. This includes laptops, tablets, and even phones. Checkout our minimum system requirements if you would like more details https://digital.greatleaps.com/help/frequently-asked-questions
When working at a distance, you can either use a computer with a webcam and pull up the video chat next to our reading program OR you can use a phone for the video chat and a tablet for the reading program. In desperate times, you can use a single tablet for both the program and the video chat BUT this will usually not allow you to see both the program and the video chat at the same time. Also, the student can use the digital program on a smart phone BUT we highly discourage this. This is only to be used when better options are not available, but it will still work and be effective if necessary.
3. Best Video Chat Platforms to Use
Because we have a history of doing GL Digital at a distance, we have some insights as to the strengths and weaknesses of different, free video chats. Here’s a video made to help this transition on short notice but I’ll also leave the pros and cons of each below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVy93g3RS9M
Pros: Easy to use, You can initiate calls so that it will ring on the student’s device, Many people have macs
Cons: Exclusive to apple. No built in scheduling Function. No built in recording option. Will need two devices if you don’t have a mac laptop.
- Facebook Messenger
Pros: Works well with poor connection, can initiate calls, works on all devices, most people have a facebook
Cons: May have to add a parent to friends list, No build in recording
Pros: Available on all devices, can initiate calls, built in video recording
Cons: Can be a bit glitchy, may have to create an account or recover your old one
- Google Hangouts
Pros: Good scheduling feature, works on all devices, most people already use gmail
Cons: Takes a couple steps to be able to initiate calls, no built in video recording, screen may mirror text.
Pros: Good scheduling feature, able to record sessions, easy to set up, available on all devices
Cons: Download required, it mirrors your screen, recently we have learned that it is getting hacked (unlikely but possible).
4. Tips for using GL Digital at a Distance.
Though it’s still simple as ever, there’s some usage tips that will just make your experience a bit smoother. This video will explain more in depth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhrhL3ahzXU
- When connecting with the student code, use a word that starts with each letter in the code to avoid confusion between b vs. d vs. e for example. You can also copy and paste the code over to the student in a message.
- Different devices means different screen sizes and you need to match your screen size with the student so that you see the same number of columns in phonics and phrases. Just ask how many words or phrases across they’re seeing and adjust your screen or turn your device to match it. It will be anywhere from 1 - 4 columns.
- When modeling, normally the student would read with you the second time. In because of audio delays over a video chat, that doesn’t work too well. Instead, the second time through, just have the student read the passage and if there's an error immediately correct it and try again.
Hopefully this was helpful, and your students can continue making Great Leaps from home!