Learning remotely can be an isolating experience for students who are used to seeing their classmates every day. As an educator, you need to prioritise student communication, collaboration, and interaction when designing your lesson online. As one would imagine, not all activities that you do in a physical classroom can be replicated in an online setting. In some cases, it is just not advisable or simply not possible to do. You need to understand the challenges and opportunities of this mode of teaching and be prepared to adjust the learning activities accordingly. . Instead of simply disseminating resources, giving assignments and collecting students’ works, consider the following questions when planning online class interaction:
- How can you use the online space to connect with the learners?
- How many students are participating the online class/tutorial?
- How can you leverage tools such as online discussions and video conferencing, to allow interaction amongst learners?
- How can you utilize the collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams or Google Suite to get groups of students working on a project together?
- How can you make time to meet with my students to work with them virtually?
You can use options such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype to deliver your live lectures and tutorials. Remember the more opportunities that students have to communicate and collaborate with their peers online, the more likely they are to stay engaged during an online class.
Preparing to deliver live lectures
Here are some good practices to help you set expectations for your students before the session:
- Share your expectations on how students should participate in each activity, whether it is the lecture, breakout session, or synchronous chat. For example, posting their questions in the chat window or verbally queue up to ask questions will help to run the class smoothly.
- Use existing communication channels such as email, LumiNUS and Whatsapp to send announcements to students.
- Conduct trial sessions with your students to help them be familiar with interface and basic features of the technology tools that you use.
- Provide students resources for learning these tools and getting help. If you are not comfortable to provide technical assistance or answer technical questions, you can refer your students to send question using this portal.
During the live session
Here are some simple ways to make your remote classroom a vibrant and an engaging learning environment. Communication is still the key to having a meaningful session, so be sure to communicate your expectations with your students during and after the online session.
- Class size
- If you are handling a small class size (< 25), encourage students to turn on their video and make sure your video is on for your students to see you. This makes the session a more personal teaching/learning experience.
- If you are handling medium to large class size (> 25), communication is typically one way (teacher-to-student), but you can still provide opportunities for the students to ask questions. As long as the students’ microphones are muted throughout the lecture, instructors should experience less issue speaking to the class.
- If you are recording the session to make it available for later review by students, do get your students consent beforehand.
- Use the Text Chat to encourage interaction such as Q&A. Instructors can solicit questions while the lecture is ongoing. To minimize confusion, instructors should set rules for how and when students should ask questions. You can choose to answer the questions at the end of the lecture, or you can address the questions in between to make it more interactive. Having a TA will be a good way to monitor incoming questions in the chat window and help you answer immediate queries while the lecture is ongoing.
- Use the Share Screen tool to share slides, websites, documents, images, videos, etc., and provide different means for representing the information.
- Use Breakout Rooms to facilitate small group discussions.
- Summarise key points covered during the session when you end the class. You can offer to stay a bit longer to take final questions.
You may feel a bit awkward when you are conducting online classes for the first time, but you will get more comfortable with it after practicing a few sessions. Remember that your students are not used to learning in this way, either. The key is to communicate your expectations clearly and centre your teaching on students and their learning so that can they remain engaged throughout the session.
Technology How-to Guides
Supporting Academics to Teach Remotely using Zoom
Behind an Engaging Zoom Workshop on Oral Defense: Teacher’s and Administrator’s Voices
Engaging Webinars by Design: Teaching while ‘Social Distancing’
Va-va Vroom in Zoom – Establishing an Online Teacher-Presence in the Zoom Classroom
Tags: high bandwidth, interactional, synchronous