“Can You Hear Me Now?” – 6 Tips for Your Online Class
With many organizations jumping in to help educators in this time of need (Zoom has offered their platform for free!), we put together some tips for running a class online or via conference call.
1. Start your first session by taking 5 minutes to have everyone familiarize themselves with the platform. Make sure you have done a run through and understand the platform as well. Ask a friend or colleague to test it out with you ahead of time!
2. The most important function you will need is the mute button. To eliminate ambient noise and distractions, you will want to ask your class to be on mute unless they are speaking. Be prepared to remind people to “unmute” themselves as many will begin talking and forget that no one can hear them. Be patient as everyone learns this process.
3. If you are using an online platform that has messaging capabilities, think about how you would like this to be accessible to your group. As the host, you will be able to control how this is used. If you do not want students to be able to message each other privately, disable this option. Many platforms may offer the option for messaging to be seen by all. This can help if people have questions or comments, but don’t need to/want to speak them out loud. You may also have the option to allow them to just message you directly.
4. One of the toughest parts about leading a group remotely is being able to engage your audience and garner their participation. A “free for all” ability to speak may seem ideal at first; however, it can create unnecessary time delays and awkwardness for those wanting to talk. After a few times of multiple people speaking at once, you and your participants will be wary of the continued need for courtesies and figuring out who gets to speak. If your platform has a “raise hand” option, utilize it to call on people; or use the messaging feature. If you do not have access to this option, find ways to call on people in differing orders (don’t always go A-Z, mix it up!).
5. Some platforms will allow both those with video capabilities as well as those who can only call in via telephone. Be aware of the differing availability of technology to all students and create a safe space for all to participate without feeling left out. Think about how you want people to engage and ways it can be inclusive no matter how each student can participate.
6. Give yourself some credit. Remote work and education seemingly come with a whole new realm of challenges. Obvious, right? But remember that these challenges are also present in person. You have already been responding to them and found ways to keep your students’ attention; we just have to tackle them in a different way now. Distractions can be mitigated and also used to our advantage. Utilize what you know, the tools available, and don’t forget that you can ALWAYS ask your students to come up with ways to do this too! Teaching is one of the best ways to retain information…ask your students to come up with ideas on how class can be engaging and have them present them!
**If you can have ALL of your students on video conference, Zoom also has an excellent breakout room feature. You can assign small groups (or have the platform randomly choose) to have smaller discussions and then bring them back to the larger group.
We are working hard to continue to provide more content that will be a resource to you and your colleagues during this time. For more free resources on teaching and learning online, click here.
We will be releasing some FREE online lesson plans to support teachers and students through this transition. These lessons are designed for teachers and advisors to use with their classes so that they may continue to develop important skills in areas like leadership, critical thinking, and professional development. If you are interested in joining this online community, please fill out this brief survey, and you’ll receive the link to our first webinar to be held on Thursday, March 19th from 4pm-5pm PST.
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