Part 1 of the 3 part Keep Calm and Go Virtual blog series focused on the need to adjust your design for online delivery. Now it’s time to focus on classroom instruction tips and how to provide an effective learning experience for your students in corporate learning, higher education, or K-12.
These delivery essentials for instructors are 5 tips to help make the virtual classroom delivery method an effective way of learning.
Tip #1: Keep your class environment dynamic – video ON!
In your virtual classroom, whether you’ve designed your session to be a webinar or interactive, if you are the instructor, turn on your video. For webinars, you’re engaging your listeners who can connect with you personally. Take a cue from all of the very successful and engaging YouTube personalities with millions of subscribers – they turn on their videos. And if it’s an interactive virtual classroom session, set the “video on” expectation before the entire class and ask everyone to turn on their video. To make it easy, when you set up your virtual session, set “video on for all” as a default. Remember, the virtual classroom is, in fact, a classroom, and when you’re in a live class, you and your students see each other and get visual cues. The virtual classroom should be just as dynamic an experience – so turn on your video and connect!
Tip #2: Have a class “producer” or co-teacher
Just as with the live sessions, you have tools to facilitate learning in the virtual classroom. Many of the virtual classrooms have tools such as polls, annotation, screen sharing, digital whiteboards, and break out rooms. These are how you engage your students in collaborating with the content to make them partners in learning. If you’re not an expert in the tools, or even if you are, find someone to be your “producer.”
Think of the producer role as your support instructor. Their role is to help with the tools and keep the class running smoothly while you deliver the content. Some examples of what a producer can do are:
- Launch tools such as polls or whiteboards and demonstrate how to use them
- Provide technical support for the students without interrupting so the instructor can continue to teach the class
- Serve as instructor support – watch the chat for questions or comments, rephrase questions for clarity or, in the unfortunate event that the main instructor is disconnected, keep the class moving while the instructor reconnects
Tip #3: Connect beyond the virtual class session
Learning is more than an event, and engaging with your students should happen beyond the classroom – in-person or virtual. As the instructor, you are the “face” of learning for students. You should find ways to connect with them before, between, or after class, especially if it involves multiple sessions.
A few ways you can connect with students before, between, or after sessions are:
- Send an article to read or a video to watch
- Ask questions to assess understanding, start a discussion or provoke thought
- Follow up with learners to check for clarity or see if they have additional questions
With a tool like Bluepulse, sharing content, asking questions, and following up with learners can be done in one place to allow you, and the entire class, to stay connected easily.
Tip #4 Give clear instructions and a classroom orientation
Just as you would do in a live classroom, go over the logistics at the start of class. Show users where to find the emojis and feedback tools. Have them practice using them, for example:
- Ask them to raise and lower their hands
- Show where the “stepped away” emoji is and request they use it if they do step away
- Have the class use the annotation tools to introduce themselves to the class
When giving instructions, be specific and clear. To do introductions using the annotation tools, direct students to read the instructions in their guide (see blog 1) and give verbal step by step directions, such as:
- Click in the bottom center of your screen for more tools
- Choose Annotation tools. You will see a toolbar appear
- Click the typing tool represented by Aa
- Click on the screen and type the information
Tip #5 Hold a Rehearsal and a Dress Rehearsal
Preparation is key, and it is even more critical in a virtual classroom. While this may be an obvious step, it can be easily overlooked or not done thoroughly. You don’t need to deliver your presentation word for word, especially if you’re an experienced instructor. What’s most important is to build your confidence with the virtual classroom tools and ensure that they work properly for students.
Key parts of successful preparation include:
- Run through the class by yourself in the online environment as if you are teaching – rehearse the content and test all the tools for interaction
- Record your solo practice session and review it to assess areas for improvement
- With at least two other people as a test audience, run through an abbreviated version of your class. Present all the content to ensure that the students can view it. Be sure to test each tool and interaction to ensure students can interact successfully
Also, consider asking your test audience to fill in a post-class survey just as you would to gather student feedback. With a tool like Metrics That Matter, you can easily create a survey specific to the virtual classroom, share on-screen a QR code to scan with a mobile phone or chat a link to the online survey. You can then test your survey and use that feedback to adjust for the live session.
While shifting from an in-person to a virtual classroom is an adjustment, it is also possible to make it an effective delivery experience for both instructors and students. As instructors, we may be asked at times to “think on our feet,” and with the virtual classroom, it’s no different! With some practice and preparation, you may even find that you enjoy giving your students an engaging learning experience in an online environment.
Want to know more? The final post in this 3-part series is titled, “Feedback Matters! Evaluation in the Virtual Classroom.”
Watch the webinar that ties all 3 blogs together.
COVID-19•Educational experience•Student Experience Management•Webinar•