In the last year, we all learned the ins and outs of online communication the hard way. Although schools (for the most) part have now returned to normal, online teaching and online education in the wider sense will stay with us. If you’ve ever struggled with student engagement during an online class, here are 5 quick hacks to make your sessions more captivating!
- Get a proper microphone
Let’s start with the technical side of things. You can only be listened to if you can be properly heard. If your students keep leaning in towards the screen when you speak, it could be a sign that your mic is so bad, they have a hard time hearing you. Unfortunately, built-in laptop speakers and microphones are usually very low quality. If you have headphones with a mic, that is already a step forward, but you can find very affordable options on the market that give you a crispy clean sound. When you’re browsing, make sure to look out for dynamic USB mics, those will cancel most of the background noises.
- Keep all cameras turned on
More understanding teachers often allow the whole class to participate with their cameras turned off. And when no one is looking at you, you tend to get distracted so much easier. Teachers who only lecture and don’t aim to engage their students can very well allow this to happen. But if your goal is an attentive and engaged class, be strict with cameras! After all, even the best meaning, most hardworking students are more prone to drifting off if there is no accountability during their online class.
- Use the participation features
Luckily all mainstream video call software (Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Teams) have these features now, and they are unbelievably useful. You can use different reaction emojis and buttons to ask simple questions and direct your class. Make up a system, where emojis all have a meaningful function – ask students to give you a thumbs up if you can proceed with your next point, or send a smiley when they hear something that they think could be useful in the next test, etc. This way everyone has to pay attention to stay in the loop and get useful information.
- Use a digital whiteboard instead of presentations
Let’s be honest, for most of us, a slide-by-slide presentation is usually is enough to be lulled into a deep sleep in minutes. It much more engaging for students to be following your notes in real-time. This way you can make stresses and structure your class dynamically, based on what is actually happening in your virtual classroom, and not what you thought would happen when you created those PowerPoint presentations. Not to mention that your students are more likely to follow along and make their own notes, or if they don’t, when they study from your notes they can more easily access their memories about what was said when those notes were made.
- Collect feedback and opinions before, during, and after your online class
If you teach a larger class, it can be a tricky thing to grant enough speaking opportunities to everyone. Listening to each other through a video call can be very tedious for students. However, if they don’t have the proper avenues for feedback, they (understandably) get disconnected very fast. Before the class you might wanna lightly survey (not test) your students to find out how much they already know of the subject. During class, it can be super engaging to do quick real-time time questionnaires, so opinions and attitudes can be discussed. And after the class, you might wanna send out a question to recall what you taught. For these purposes, 5-WORDS is offering a handy solution. You can collect and display opinions, then 5-WORDS immediately cleans and clusters answers for you. You can get a free subscription or a heavily discounted Pro package in a special offer for academics and teachers.