Even before concerns about the Corona Virus, influenza, and student absences, educators around the world were beginning to think about how to take learning online. But the transition can seem overwhelming to those not familiar with the resources and steps. Educators are looking for a quick start to online learning and a roadmap for their journey.

Here you will chart your course to online learning with the co-creators of 21things4teachers. Guided by some key questions, we will walk through three easy steps to get started using FREE resources and tools to engage your learners.

The Three Step Transition

Several decisions need to be made prior to transitioning to online teaching and learning. 

Step 1: Planning

Choosing a Platform for Creating a Face of the Classroom
During the Planning step, consider what platform you will be using for your online workspace. Identify how your key stakeholders will access the resources, what you want to share, and how you will facilitate.

Consider the following questions regarding PLATFORMS:

・What PLATFORM does your district use?
・What is Free or Freely Available, such as Schoology, Google, or Office 365?
・Where will the online content live and how will students have access?
・What are the important elements of the Face of Your Classroom?
・What are the procedures for logging in, joining or becoming a member?

For ideas on how to do complete these steps, visit:

Thing 2 - Face of Your Classroom
Thing 5 - Collaboration in the Cloud

Teachers must decide on where the content will be hosted and how students will have access to that content.  Creating a “Face of the Classroom” involves choosing a learning management system, web page, shared document, blog, virtual meeting/video conference, or other collaborative space. On the, teachers learn about the difference between these types and are encouraged to use free or freely available tools.

Framing the Face of Your Classroom

Learning Management System


Google Classroom
Classroom Notebook



Google Sites
Square Space

Blogs and Wikis






PB Wiki

Other District or Platform System

These are NOT free, and are usually a subscription service provided by the district.
District may be using 365, Google Drive, or a paid web service like Foxbright.

Here are three of our favorites with the most flexibility and ease of use:

Schoology (FREE version)

Schoology is a powerful learning management system that has a user friendly interface. The FREE version is a quick way to get started and is mobile friendly. Owned by PowerSchool, you can create a free account as an instructor, parent, or student. Use the “Courses” menu to create a new course, then share the “Course Code” with students to open-enroll as “Members” of the course. Students create their free account and login and “Join” the course.  Instructors can organize content by folders or just begin to “Add Materials” like documents, links to content or videos, interactive content, or Discussion forums. With features like “Gradebook”, “Analytics” and “Badges”, you can be up and running in less than an hour. Use their “Schoology Help Center” to get started by visiting here:

Office 365 with Skype, Classroom Notebook, OneNote, and Email

Microsoft Teams
Teams for Education brings all your favorite Office 365 tools to one place. Office 365 schools will love these features. Creating an online workspace is as easy as logging in and determining which resource(s) best fits the bill. 

  • OneNote - Download the Learning Tools add on to make your lessons accessible.
  • Skype - Teach and discuss challenging content in real time via Skype.
  • OneDrive - Share files from OneDrive to create opportunities for students to collaborate online.  
  • Chat - Use the chat feature to answer questions or continue using classroom management strategies like see 3 before me to manage troubleshooting questions, chat feature to clarify directions and remind students strategies like See 3 Before Me Use the chat feature and

One of the biggest advantages is that Teams connect to OneDrive making it easy to share and collaborate on documents. Make your lessons accessible with OneNote learning tools, or download the Class Insights tab to monitor student progress. Lots to explore in Office 365. 

Google Classroom, Sites, Hangouts, and Email
If your school is a “Google School”, chances are your students have GMail addresses and the power of Google Classroom to organize your content. Use Google Classroom to create content, then share the Course code for students to join or auto-enroll them behind the scenes. Create your stream, add classwork, add due dates to the calendar, use the gradebook, and use Drive as a workspace.

Google Classroom
The closest thing to a learning management system in Google, create your lessons and push content to your students. Integrate with calendar, gradebook, and Drive.

Google Hangouts
Connect in real-time with students by sharing out the Hangout link. Includes a chat feature and opportunities for participants to share their screen and speak when audio is enabled.

Google Drive
Shared collaborative documents and storage space. Allows for students to create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.

There are several other tools in the GSuite, as well as apps and extensions. For more information on how these tools can improve productivity and create a robust Face of the Classroom, visit Google for Education Help Centers.