5 no-tech and low-tech remote learning ideas for students (and educators)

Just because most learning now is remote doesn’t mean it all has to be digital
By: | April 23, 2020
(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)
Steven W. Anderson is a digital learning and relationship evangelist as well as a featured speaker for FETC®.

Steven W. Anderson is a digital learning and relationship evangelist as well as a featured speaker for FETC®.

What the we, as a collective group of educators, need to realize is that no matter how well we plan lessons and learning in remote environments, it just won’t be enough for our most vulnerable learners.

And it will not meet the differentiated needs of our students with special needs.

Instead of focusing on the ed-tech tools and ways to keep learning going—a valiant effort—let’s look instead at the—perhaps, more important—non-ed-tech ways to encourage learning and creativity during these times of isolation.


Read: Updated: 208 free K-12 resources during coronavirus pandemic


Here are five no-tech and low-tech remote learning ideas for students (and educators). While a few may require downloading instructions or a worksheet, the vast majority require things that students can find around the home, some space to move, and time.

  1. Read. Reading is the foundation for all learning. At the top of any learning list should be taking time to read. Adults and kids should be reading daily. Just 15-30 minutes is all that is needed to keep the brain flexible and moving. And it’s a great family activity. It can be challenging for students who don’t have any books at home, but they can find out if schools are allowing checkouts or look up the closest Little Free Library.
  2. Write and reflect. Writing is reading, too. For students, keeping a journal of what is happening every day will be a fascinating way to look back upon these times of school closures. Sure, students might be sharing on social media every day, but social media comes and goes. Paper will stick around for a long while. Writing, like reading, keeps the mind malleable. So recommend that students keep a journal, record their thoughts, or even just write a story.

    We traditionally think of makerspaces as places filled with lathes and 3D printers. But students don’t need any fancy equipment. Being makers means exploring the edges of their creativity.

  3. Start a living history project. Many kids may not realize they are living in a historic moment that is unfolding before their eyes. A great thing for kids to do that requires zero technology is to interview themselves and their family members in their home about what is happening. If possible, students could take this a step further and interview family members in another location over the phone. This could be part of a larger project in which kids interview family members about other times in their lives, and then compare what it was like then to now. A living history project is a way for kids to understand where their family has been and make a deeper connection to those stories that might be lost forever if aren’t captured. If you need ideas, StoryCorps can help.
  4. Learn to code. Coding involves a great deal of mathematics as well as logical and algorithmic thinking. And you might think coding is an exclusively online activity. However, it doesn’t have to be. Code.org has a great collection of coding fundamentals that require no technology. (It does require internet access to get to the lessons; however, they can be made available offline.) While the basics are fundamental to coding, they can be used far beyond it.

    Read: Creativity in crisis: Charter school network stays connected


  5. Be a maker. We traditionally think of makerspaces as places filled with lathes and 3D printers. But students don’t need any fancy equipment. Being makers means exploring the edges of their creativity. Do students have LEGOs? The LEGO IDEAs page has thousands of community submitted projects. Do they have an old appliance just collecting dust? They could take it apart and see if they could put it back together or make it into something new. They can even use paper and a pair of scissors. For instance, a student could cut a piece of paper to make a hole big enough to walk through. Being a maker isn’t about the space. It’s about the problems students try to solve.


Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) is a digital learning and relationship evangelist with expertise in education technology, leadership, and transformational teaching and learning. He is a featured speaker for FETC®.


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