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Doug Strable, a freelance learning and development designer based in Tokyo, lays out some ideas, advice and warnings surrounding the new type of classroom that awaits teachers and parents in the 21st century.

Communicating and learning online is here to stay: The ability to learn quickly, recognize fake facts and offer creative solutions to problems are all skills needed in what has been dubbed “Society 5.0” by the government. Today’s workers and students need to build technological, information and media skills.

Use a current pedagogy: Pedagogy, the science of how people learn, has changed. Parents and teachers need to teach students how to find, think about and use information rather than strictly presenting it. Collaborating with others, searching for information and reporting to the team online helps students build these skills.

Create a dedicated learning space and start slowly: Make an effort to invest in the tools that will help students. Subscribe to the highest speed internet connection available. If you are using Wi-Fi, check if the router has a 5.0-Mhz signal and use the password for this connection. Teachers need to check that all students have the necessary equipment so as not to create a digital divide before classes start.

Online learning makes it easier to share diverse ideas: A traditional classroom has limited time for students to share their opinions. Through online forums, however, everyone can share their thoughts. Diverse ideas are essential in driving innovation and acquiring knowledge.

It’s easier to misunderstand instructions online: Expect that students will misunderstand the instructions and become frustrated. Extra effort to explain the activity, tasks and goals, plus a place to ask questions, is necessary.

Use the polling tool: Teachers teaching in regular classrooms can see from the facial expressions of their students if they understand a concept or not, but they cannot see students online. Use the polling tool or video-conference tool to connect with students during the day.

Use open libraries and other open educational resources: Faculty around the world are creating open libraries of textbooks that anyone can download, reuse and modify as they wish. Search for “open textbooks.” One of the most comprehensive open textbooks about the changes needed to teach online is “Teaching in the Digital Age” by Tony Bates, which is available in English, Japanese and other languages.

Design the class as an adventure for the students with you as the tour leader: As with all things new, students, teachers and parents need to spend time practicing using the technology. Instead of piling on the homework initially and taking up valuable student time with lectures and video meetings, get students to start doing some treasure-hunting activities. The role of teachers is changing into the director (facilitator) of the movie with the students as the technical staff solving the problems.

Go forward with green-light feedback: Feedback is an essential part of learning. Learning online provides more opportunities for helping direct students to resources by providing links to resources to improve their understanding, which is known as green-light feedback. This is opposed to red-light feedback, which just points out the issues and puts the responsibility of solving the issue on the learner.

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