Engaging educational activities for students learning remotely #COVID-19

Since the beginning of school closures world-wide, I have witnessed the collegiality and raw strength of the online teaching community. Like many others, I have spent more time on Twitter this week than ever before. Teachers from around the world are sharing resource ideas and extending an arm and a leg to help others during today’s global crisis.

How do we engage students?

If students are involved in an asynchronous mode of remote learning, they will not have the presence of a teacher explicitly directing them to complete tasks. Students will need to self-regulate and motivate themselves. To solve this problem, educational technology (edtech) companies gamify learning experiences by using: friendly competition, rewards, milestones and providing positive learning environments. You can also engage your learners by creating authentic learning opportunities that activates their prior knowledge and provides a challenge.


If you haven’t already, take a look at 40+ Tools for Distance Learning, where I have listed the best online learning tools I have come across.

Engaging Educational Activities

Below are some student-centred activities that are easy to use and free to implement!

Desmos Global Maths Art Contest

The beauty of the Desmos Global Maths Art Competition is how accessible and incredibly creative the task is! Due to COVID-19, the deadline has been extended, allowing for many students from around the world to participate.

Eligibility: 13-18 years old

Close Date: April 30th, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Competitions are a great way to engage students in authentic learning. Keep your eye out for competitions, global or local, that may be relevant for your students. Many close quite early on in the year! If entering this year is not an option, consider making a class challenge instead or preparing to enter the following year.

Other fun competitions:

Student Blogging Challenge

Recommended ages: 8-16 years old.

The Student Blogging Challenge is an authentic way to learn about publishing content online and connecting with others from around the world. The challenge involves a series of 8 weekly tasks with a focus on blogging and commenting skills.

Other ideas:

Image by Tumisu on Pixabay

Learn how to code

Create a project for your students to engage with. They can learn to code animations and games or learn robotics.

Scratch has tutorials and an easy to use interface that allows students of all ages to build games. Students can then share their games with their friends to try to get the highest score!

Tynker provides fun coding courses. It has recently been made free for teachers and students affected by school closures.

Explore interactive software

Science and mathematics simulations are awesome learning tools because they are visual and interactive.

  • Mangahigh is a game-based learning platform where students can learn maths.
  • PhET simulations engages students in scientific inquiry through the use of multiple representations. It is intuitive and provides real-world connections.
  • Brainpop has interactive lessons on all subjects. You can request a free access for closed schools.

You can also explore many Virtual Museum Tours!

Create and share revision notes & questions

No time is better than now for students to consolidate their understanding of content that they have been taught during the academic year. Students can create their own questions and send it to their friends. The best tools I have seen for this are Quizlet and Quizziz.

Create & share video content

I have started to make short instructional videos on YouTube for my students who will be learning maths remotely – Classnotes. It requires organisational, tech and speaking skills. Your students can develop all these skills by getting involved in creating video content about what they are learning in class.

Video Ideas:

Image by 200degrees from Pixabay

I hope you have gained a few ideas for your online classes! Choose and adopt ideas creatively in your lessons.

Let’s continue to support our fellow educators by sharing ideas.

Featured Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

40+ Tools for Distance Learning (A response to COVID-19)

All UAE schools are closed for a month as a preventative response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The first two weeks will be Spring break, followed by two weeks of distance learning. Some other countries around the world have temporarily shut down schools including China, Japan, Iran and Korea. The spread of a virus behaves like an exponential function and will likely affect the education of students over the next few months.

How do you implement distance learning?

Distance learning involves students learning remotely, most commonly through the use of online learning platforms. Amidst global economic uncertainty, as an educator there are factors you can control such as equipping yourself with online learning tools to support your students from afar.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of distance learning for students?

Benefits of Distance Learning for students

  • Freedom to study at your own pace
  • You can study anywhere at any time (asynchronous approach)
  • Self-regulation of learning
  • Online learning tools are easy to use
Student studying at home

Disadvantages of Distance Learning for students

  • Chances of distractions are high
  • Easy to lose track of learning schedule
  • Limited face-to-face interaction with classmates and teacher (if any)
  • Learning is limited to Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Quality of learning is restricted

What online tools are available to you?

Here are 40+ tools that can help you create the best distance learning experience for your students.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

LMS are widely used in schools and allow for efficient communication between teachers and their class. LMS can be used to upload class work, create assignments, create quizzes, track quiz results as well as communicate with students and parents.

Tools include:

Content Presentation

How will you deliver lesson content? Do students have access to an online textbook or will you summarise notes in slides?

Tools include:

Formative Assessments

To review students’ understanding of content, you can embed interactive questions within your slides. This allows you to modify your lessons to ensure you are meeting the needs of your students.


Tools include:

Collaboration Tools

Imagine every student in your class contributing to a brainstorm digitally! Simply share a public link for your students to contribute.

Tools include:


Create Instructional Videos

Record your teaching and post them onto your LMS. Be creative!

Tools include:

Live-video Stream

If your school has decided to implement a synchronous approach to learning, where all students are to learn at the same time, these tools are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you may consider hosting periodic live sessions to answer questions from students.

Live lesson


Students can revise on these sites or create their own quizzes and send it to their peers.

Tools include:

Interactive Maths Learning

Students can compete maths questions online and receive immediate results. Often schools will already be attached to an online maths platform.

Tools include:


Create a project for students to complete. It may include an element of surveying the community, presenting information and reflecting on the task.


Tools include:


  • Communicate regularly with your students.
  • Give clear instructions. For each lesson, include learning objectives and instructions for task submission.
  • Organise lessons well and use folders on your LMS.
  • Provide regular feedback on student work. Students can, for example, take photos of their written work and then submit it through their LMS for feedback.
  • Provide student choice e.g. Submit a video demonstrating how you solved a question or create 3 questions of increasing complexity, send it to a friend and peer assess their work.

Support your fellow educators & share your ideas for distance learning!