We have trained over 1,000 teachers. Here are some of the virtual learning tips they have found most helpful:
1. Do something different every 8 minutes to keep attention. No matter how much the class likes you and you know your content, you need to change something to keep attention (every 8 minutes according to our dial testing research).
By Bill Hoogterp
2. Light up the camera with more than your smile. Backlight is good for sci-fi and murder mysteries but not online classrooms. Get light on your face not behind you.
3. Find the lens and fill the frame. Broadcasters learn to find that lens. Imagine your students are inside that lens and speak directly to it and you’ll have a more commanding presence. Adjust the camera angle so it just barely cuts off the very top of your head.
4. Have a bigger view. Gallery view (think Hollywood Squares) is better to read the feeling of the room. Speaker view means whoever is speaking (i.e. the teacher), their screen gets bigger.
5. Use the chatbox once per online class. “Let me do something a little different. Today’s class topic is X, so everyone goes into the chat room and put in a half-sentence about what comes to mind when you first hear topic x.” This works for a few reasons. First, it pulls them into your topic. They will also want to type something thoughtful since their peers will see it and they can’t resist seeing some of the other responses.
6. White Boards are EASY to use and involve the students. Through the share screen, open the whiteboard. Students then can “annotate” and draw on the whiteboard. Advanced tip, educators: Divide the board into parts and have multiple students working on whatever problems you set at the same time where the whole class can see them.
7. Engage the class: Starting a class with an Around the Room gets everyone on their front foot, pulling them from passive mode to active mode. Until a student talks in the class, they are not there “emotionally”. Body Polls work well too. “Show me with your fingers from 0-10 how you feel about X.” Or “everyone show me with your thumb what you think about y.” These give you data, the class gets data, give you a break (it’s in your union contract) and emotionally connect everyone to your topic and each other.