If you are one of those teachers who have never taught an online class before, and all this eLearning stuff seems like a nightmare to you, maybe these dynamics will be easy for you to put into practice in your next online class. With the perfection of digital technology and the greater availability of the Internet, online study is becoming more and more relevant. That’s why paper writers have researched the topic of activating online classes. Teachers need to adapt to the new conditions and make online courses more interesting to improve the quality of education.
Before you start, it’s essential to make sure that the video call tool you use, whatever it is, has a chat feature and students’ ability to talk.
A student can become a great teaching assistant. Giving a student a responsibility proves to be very beneficial because they will go out of their way to reciprocate that trust. This ‘co-teacher’ will fill those awkward silences in an online class while you check or look something up; he will let you know if a comment or question has been left unanswered in the chat. He will choose the ‘volunteers’ to answer questions or correct them, and above all, he will break the monotony of listening to the same voice for so long with his interventions. Finally, it is essential to change ‘co-teacher’ from one to another, because each class will be different.
Chat is for More Than Just Chatting
It is a necessary but fundamental tool. To avoid an orchestra of noise, it is best that all students have the microphone closed and that the teacher is the one who gives way to them. How to quickly check if someone is not following the explanation? The chat is dynamic for quick response questions. For example, you can ask if a section has been understood and ask the students to answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the chat. If someone says ‘no,’ there are three options: give way to the student who has not understood a section to ask; repeat the explanation from another approach or invite those who have questions to stay for five minutes at the end of the videoconference to resolve doubts.
A Classic: Videos
If they are used in face-to-face classes, why not in an online course? On the one hand, they are a unique didactic tool, and, on the other hand, they prevent students from getting bored of always listening to the same voice. However, it is essential that this viewing has a purpose and is associated with a planned activity.
Combining Video Calling with Collaborative Applications
Methodologies that promote more participatory learning also have a place in an online classroom. Collaborative tools such as Jamboard can engage students in the learning process and make it more active. This application from the G-Suite environment was designed for businesses, but it has special functions for the online educational world. You can draw, handwrite, incorporate colored notes or play videos from laptops, mobile and digital whiteboards.
How to use this application in an online classroom? It will depend on the imagination of the teacher. A question is posed, and the students add their ideas to the same slide in the form of posits of different colors. The teacher can then analyze the whole class’s result in silence and give way in an orderly fashion. Another possibility is to set up discussions in which students contribute their ideas through images that they then have to explain.
Sharing Documents with Learners
The large eLearning platforms allow the teacher to divide his class into small closed groups, in which learners interact independently from the rest of the study. However, this is not such a widespread possibility among the most widely used and free video conferencing programs. This small group work can be carried out during an online class, creating and sharing documents with our students.
The study is divided into groups, a different form is shared with each of these groups, and in this way, each group can work simultaneously online. Then, each group collaborates on that document independently, and during its elaboration, the teacher can check how they work while sharing the screen with the whole class. Once everyone has finished, each group’s work can be shown to the rest of the course while sharing the screen.
Gamification has become a didactic technique increasingly present in classrooms. Games are mostly valid for learning closed concepts such as the periodic table elements, historical dates, names of literary works, past participles of English verbs, etc. These closed concepts are fundamental to articulate the subjects, but often their learning is a headache. Games can be used in online classes for the teaching of these closed concepts and also; to ensure the motivation and constant attention of the students. There are many ways to apply gamification in an online class, but a straightforward one uses chat.
Proper Use of Presentations to Energize Online Classes
By now, all teachers know that an attractive presentation is essential, but sometimes the same expressions are used as for face-to-face classes. It is a mistake. In an online course, the distractions for the students are, if possible, much more present than in a face-to-face class. For this reason, you should make the presentations more attractive. Invite the students to read a slide, become teachers explaining a decline with a title but blank, and; ‘hide’ clues in some slides. Yes, it is beneficial to hide clues on some slips to keep students’ attention and review. The ideal is to include aspects that need to be studied, such as tiny images of art in an Art History class, calculus operations in a Mathematics class, vocabulary in an English class, etc. As a last resort, you can always include emojis to keep the attention.
Music and Sounds
On many occasions, while all the students in a class join a videoconference, a few precious minutes can pass. It is a time that can be used to energize online courses by playing songs that contribute something to the musical culture of the students. There are many criteria to configure this playlist, but a very recurrent one is celebrating great musicians’ anniversaries. Also, you should not underestimate the different sounds to make the class more exciting and dynamic. A horn’s sounds, a countdown, or a clock add an extra touch to the lessons.
How About a Masterclass?
Collaborating with professionals from outside the educational center is always problematic due to travel and the difficulty of combining schedules. However, thanks to video calls and online classes, there is the possibility of inviting specialists who want to collaborate in the studies but cannot attend in person. They don’t need to be very relevant figures.
Whether they are aware of it or not, people communicate a large part of their messages through non-verbal communication. In a way, teachers are actors who attract very special spectators and students in their classroom performance. Even if a video call is available, the barriers to nonverbal communication are evident. Teachers in an online course are similar to radio announcers. Therefore, it is time to be enthusiastic with your voice so that students feel that we are closer than ever despite the distance.