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VLN Primary eteachers 2020
Photo by Rachel Whalley

Effective Strategies in the Video Conference Lesson

NetNZ Teachers —

Advice pulled together from teachers who teach online

  • Get students to demonstrate learning by getting them to do a seminar on a topic of their choice. Could be supported by a slideshow. Encourage other students to ask questions. Advantage is that students are prepped beforehand and know what is coming. No hiding.
  • When checking “homework” activities, select a student to answer the first question and have that student select a student from another site to answer the next question (this strategy is very good for engaging students and students get to know names and where students are from very quickly) – builds good working relationships in the class
  • Encourage students to discuss the topic in line or in context with their ‘local environment’ (this strategy encourages them to view the world around them and link their knowledge)
  • Similar to above but also send them a list of questions on something and then throw the questions into the group randomly choosing, so they don’t know which question you are going to ask.
  • Pre-quiz on points from the last session at the start of the lesson. General or randomly targeted.
  • Post-quiz on the end of a lesson on what’s been covered. Especially on what is required for the next lesson or what and when for next deadline.
  • Question basic concepts. e.g. What causes a shift along a demand/supply curve? Define Market Demand. What is Ceteris Paribus? etc. (L1 Economics)
  • Quick quiz on topic terminology/features. Backed up by viewing a video clip and writing down where the terminology/features appear (sometimes watching clip through twice). Discuss what students saw, where and how it was used. (L2 Media Studies)
  • Send out vocab game cards by email and play games like “I’ve got ….whose got ….. to start the VC lesson – but remember to bring a master sheet along to cover any absences
  • Students can build models in their class time but bring them to demo in VC class
  • Get students to show what they are interested in: play music, show art works, etc. This enables other students to see and share interests.
  • Direct questions … so all students have to provide an answer …
  • Ask students to communicate non verbally occasionally, e.g. Place yourself in relation to your seat to indicate how comfortable you are with this topic/skill/concept (might sit on it or move to edge of camera view); if more than one student in a location may use a similar activity for pairs.
  • Share an image of the above in the review of the topic to show progress with humor, or repeat the activity.
  • Point to specific parts of a model as part of a demo (see 11) or feedback test (e.g. parts of the student’s own body in anatomy, or model)
  • Choose 1-2 students per session for teacher to bring in something that is personalised to each one from other parts of the course, web presence etc. Over time cover whole class systematically without making it too obvious or taking up too much time.
  • I try to use the VC sessions as a university style tutorial – so students are expected to have completed the work prior to VC sessions. To cope with this my VC week runs from Wednesday to Tuesday.
  • Role playing – for example in languages choose one person to be the waiter and ask the other students what they would like to eat or drink, and then repeat their order back to them.
  • Hot Seat – like role play, one of the students is assigned a role for example a famous person in history, the students have to ask him/her questions to find out their identity. Alternatively the student in the hot seat doesn’t know their identity and has to guess who he/she is by asking questions of their classmates

It is important to remember to ask yourself some important questions when determining whether a lesson should be delivered live:

  1. Is the lesson uniquely suited to synchronous learning? Or can it be effectively delivered via dissemination of a document, a post or even a recorded lecture?
  2. Is there agreement among the participants that every effort will be made to contribute meaningfully to the experience? This includes awareness by all parties that everyone’s time is valuable and that their time together should take advantage of that fact.
  3. Does the lesson replicate traditional, instructor-led activities, or does it take advantage of new avenues of exploration in teaching and learning? An uninspired slide show lecture delivered face to face will be similarly unappealing (if not more so) in the online environment, where the opportunity for distraction is greater (Finkelstein, 2006).