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Four Paths to Successful Online and In-Person Teaching and Learning

Original Published Date: 10.1.2020. Updated: 1.28.2022

It's been two years since educators across the country charted the murky waters of teaching in a pandemic. Since then, classroom settings have fluctuated between in-person and virtual, making it more difficult for teachers to keep their students on track.

Most schools have opened their doors to in-person learning in the 2021-2022 school year, but online learning is still a vessel for many schools. We don't know what the future will look like for online instruction. However, NMSI coach Jason Walker shares four teaching methods appropriate for online and in-person learning, which he presented at an education talk during the height of the pandemic, "Going Virtual: Pandemic and Beyond."

"I believe that what students will experience…has the potential to transform how students learn and how teachers educate," Walker said. "If we do our due diligence, we will be able to see the evolution of a great classroom into a powerhouse classroom that schools all around the world can look to as a successful model that they want to simulate."

Blended Learning

The blended learning strategy – taking the best of both digital and traditional teaching methods – is a great approach, regardless of whether students are in a classroom. That’s because it balances between digital tools and activities and face-to-face time with the students – even if the faces are on a screen.

Walker said no number of third-party videos, lab simulations or online activities can replace a teacher. Students still need to see their teachers, make connections with them and hear their lessons. That’s why blended learning can be so powerful. Students get the advantage of a connected and invested educator while also reaping the benefit of online tools and digital resources.

Flipped Classroom

In a flipped classroom, students prepare to participate in class by watching video lessons, reading articles or doing other tasks that inform the activities that will take place during class time. This concept was originally designed for a mix of in-person instruction and homework but can effectively be applied to remote learning.

This method allows students to spend more of their class time working on applications of what they learned in their homework, even if the class time is remote.

Station Rotation

Applied to an online setting, station rotation can be just as impactful as it is in the classroom. For example, one group of students can be working on a virtual lab project while others are in a breakout session with the instructor and a third group watches and discusses an instructional video. This allows every student to have face time with the teacher and with their classmates, while also maximizing the amount of time available.


This acronym stands for Question, Investigation, Video, Elaboration, Review, Summary Quiz. The Qu.I.V.E.R.S. model can be an excellent way to bring some structure and dynamism to an online class session. Here's how it's done

  • The class begins with a question – it should be a question that engages the students and points toward what the class session will be focused around.

  • The investigation follows. It can be done many ways, but the point is to give the students an opportunity to start looking for the answer. That may be in research materials, it may be in activities, as long as the students are working to investigate and find the answers themselves.

  • Next, the instructor introduces a video, either self-made or found from a third party, that teaches the concepts called into question at the beginning of class.

  • Following the video, the teacher elaborates more into vague areas or points of confusion. Then the class reviews the material together – again many methods may be used for reviewing the lesson.

  • Finally, when the instructor senses that students understand the material, a summary quiz is given to assess learning.

In a virtual learning setting, Qu.I.V.E.R.S. is an interesting, interactive and dynamic method of teaching.

Embrace the Change

Whichever method teachers choose for virtual instruction, Walker’s encouragement is universal: Embrace the change. This is an opportunity for education to reach new heights, a disruption that opens the door for educators all over the world to rethink how students can learn more effectively.

“This whole year [has been] an excellent opportunity to remove ourselves from the normal status quo” Walker said. “This is our opportunity to rethink the way education occurs.”

Jason Walker is the manager of secondary science curriculum for IDEA Public Schools. He’s also among some 400 accomplished educators who help deliver NMSI training to teachers across the country.

Download Free NMSI Resources

NMSI has free lessons and curated resources for teachers in a range of math and science subjects you can find here. If your school is looking to partner with NMSI, we provide a plethora of resources and support including a full-year’s worth of lessons - great for virtual and in-person instruction - saving planning time for educators, so they can focus on their students. Learn more about NMSI.