There are many fantastic tools which you can use to help and inspire your learners remotely. There are online communication tools such as Zoom which you can use to support your learners and which can also then help them to stay in touch with family and friends. There are also lots of online tools which can be used recreationally to support and develop interests.
In this third guide of our series on being a Remote Digital Champion, we take a look at these different types of tech and tools.
"My neighbour wanted to take part in a Yoga class that was being run on Zoom. We went through Zoom by phone and email and now she's completely up and running."
What if your learner can't get online?
Tools for teaching and connecting
There are many free online communication tools that you can use when working with learners remotely. The best tool to use will vary between learners and may also be different for different sessions with the same learner.
An example of this is that if your learner wanted to ask for a recommendation about what to think about when buying a smartphone, a phone call would suffice. If they wanted your help with setting up their own email address, a tool which enabled you to share screens would be more appropriate. Listed below are some of the most popular communication tools with links to guides to help get you and your learner started.
“People mainly want to understand the difference between the tools they can use to connect online, such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom. I’ve been mainly using Zoom for my learning sessions over the past week or so because it is mostly stable and is good for managing privacy as you don’t have to share contact details. It’s also intuitive for most people to use and is free for one to one calls.”
Fun tech and tools
Ensuring that your learner is set up with the online tools that they need to communicate with you, their family and friends is great. However, it’s also important to introduce them to some fun ideas for what they can use the online world for – beyond necessary life functions like online shopping.
Champions have been telling us some wonderful stories of the things that they’ve been doing with their learners.
Techniques for providing remote support
- The important thing when helping someone remotely is to go slowly, be patient, and be encouraging about what they have achieved. If you aren’t screen sharing and so can't see what your learner is seeing, as far as possible mirror what your learner is doing by using the same applications and browsers on your computer.
- It may take a few sessions for you and your learner to be more confident with this form of support but stick with it!
- Be creative and flexible: an example is that if your learner can't share their screen with you, but is able to video call on a Smartphone, you can speak to them in this way and ask them to point the camera at the screen to enable you to see what they are doing.
- We have a complete guide to help you with your approach and you can read this here.
Things might not always go smoothly, so make sure you have a back-up plan! For example you could switch the session to a telephone conversation instead and send the learner activities to do by email.
"After each session I send the learner a summary of what we've covered by email and include some useful links to either a video or website. I will encourage then to look at these before the next session."
Now that you're up to speed with tech and tool ideas, here are some suggested next steps for you.