Teaching online during Coronavirus: how to be in 25 places at once

Amid the shutdown of schools in Australia, it’s time we really start considering what this will mean for teachers and students. This probably won’t mean an extended time off work and no teaching. This will mean teaching classes from our living rooms (possibly still wearing pyjama pants).

Feeling unprepared? No stress. We’ve put together some solutions for your most pressing problem—where and how to deliver content. We hope you’ll be off to a strong start to deliver lessons online.

Step 1: Get connected

Make sure that all of your students are connected to you online through some sort of online LMS, like Google Classrooms or Microsoft Teams. All have their pros and cons, but any will do in a pinch.

Step 2: Consider your delivery.

How will you deliver lessons? Will you do this synchronously,meaning you’re online at the same time as the students and interacting throughout lesson time, or asynchronously, where students have the work and must complete it by a certain day and time?

Depending on your students, their level of diligence towards unsupervised work, and the type of lesson you are delivering, the right answer is probably a blend of both; but make sure you take it into consideration when you’re planning out the next few weeks of work.

Step 3: Change up your structure.

Depending on the content and what help you anticipate students will need, you might need to change up your lesson’s structure as well. For example…

1. You need to teach students something, and then they need to practise it.

Screencast or podcast this content delivery and upload this to your LMS for that lesson. Have students sign in on time and synchronously complete the task, or they can complete at their own pace and contact you if they need any help.

Differentiation Tip:

  • Remind students they can speed down or speed up the video/podcast of you to suit their learning speed.
  • Give a few more examples than normal to cover your different student learning levels. Start with easier examples and work up to harder ones.

2. You need to have a class discussion about something.

Use Zoom video conferencing. Great for large video chats. You can also split the group into smaller groups so that students can pair, square, share to aid in idea formation and discussion.

Tips:

  • Having everyone turn off their microphones until they want to speak helps with noise pollution and makes it easier to hear.
  • Send students home with a traffic card system (Red, Yellow, Green) or have them whip one up using coloured pens or paper. They can use these to communicate non-verbally; green shows that they know the answer, or that they understand a concept, yellow shows they have questions, and red means they’re completely lost.
  • At some point in the session ask students if they have pets, and to introduce them.It’s a good ice breaker —  and  who doesn’t want to see cute pets?

Step 4: Prepare for tech issues.

It’s just a fact of life in Australia. Your internet connection, and definitely not all 25-30 of your students’ internet connections, will not be all working at the same time.

Delivering your lesson content live is simply bound to fail. Imagine a glitchy facetime connection with your friend travelling overseas in a different time zone. Then multiply that by 25 students.

Solution? Record your content in advance using a screencasting or podcasting app.

Screencasting

Screencasting is literally that — recording (or ‘casting’) your screen. You can record literally anything , from powerpoints to word docs.

Screencast O’Matic is a great free solution we’ve used. Install it into your browser and screencast away. The free version is limited to 15 minute videos so keep this in mind and don’t waffle!

If you don’t really need the visuals, you could try podcasting.

Podcasting

For longer, non-visual instructions, consider making a podcast using Anchor.

Anchor is a podcast recording app that’s simple to use. As a bonus, students can access them on all devices and podcast apps meaning they can listen to you while they are doing something else.

Added bonus: if you teach the same content each year, you can reuse these videos next year for flipped or differentiated learning. Having a whole unit worth of content videos that students can work through at their own pace? That’s simply what dreams are made of.

For more tips for teaching and working online, check out our other blog post — ‘4 free apps teachers can use to encourage online collaboration between students’.

Ange Alcock

Ange is the Founder of Flohh. She is a teacher and head of English at Mac.Robertson Girls' High School. Ange is developing the Flohh suite of Educational Tools because she is passionate about reducing teacher workload so there is more time to focus on the needs of students, generally and individually.

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