Webster University professor has tips for making virtual learning successful


WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – Dr. Ralph Olliges has a worldview when it comes to teaching and learning. His front garden is made up of plants he’s picked up around the globe. And when it comes to virtual learning, for the past 17 years, he’s been creating curriculums and teaching the students the world over through Webster University.

“Don’t wear your pajamas,” says Dr. Ralph Olliges, professor of education and program manager of educational technology at Webster University. “In other words, get dressed for school. Doesn’t have to be fancy but get out of the pajamas and dressed for school so you have the right mindset of going to school and learning.”

His advice for parents and students settling into virtual learning at home? Build in breaks. Set a block schedule.

Visual cues like a white board can help keep everyone organized, or introducing a show and tell aspect; in this case, a plant from Madagascar.

Plan recess and take a break for all. And try virtual field trips.

“It’s trying to get their attention with something they like,” Olliges says. “Maybe using a prop or two if you must and after doing that you can get into the lesson you want to do.”

And remember, create a family and work schedule and celebrate small positive learning moments, through practice.

“You have to be positive,” says Olliges. “Your student may or may not get it the first time. One of the advantages to home learning is you can watch the video the second time or a third time. Sometimes, kids get it on the first time. But if they have to watch it a second or third time, so what who cares. Build in the time. You need to be positive with them.”

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