So many other professionals responded with some great tips. Thank you all!

A number of days ago, I asked on Twitter a question about how to go about a task within an online environment. I received a number of practical suggestions including Pete from ELT Planning and Leo Selivan of Leoxicon. This prompted me to record a video (available below) about the suggested applications and review some which I had used in the past.

The task that I was trying to organise within a remote environment required placing headings in order and then matching the descriptions to the headings. A simple enough idea, yeah? In a physical classroom this would work fine, but in an online environment how does one achieve it? Thank you to all who contributed their suggestions.

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In this post, I will be sharing a few of the applications that were recommended as well as some of the others that I have used to ensure that lessons are interactive, engaging and memorable.

Website 1: Jam Board

You can add images to a ‘whiteboard’ from a URL and also add text to make more interactive lessons.

One of the first applications that was recommended was Jam Board. I had never heard of this website, so I decided to look into it. If you have not heard about this website, much like myself, then I highly recommend it. It is run by Google – perhaps in response to the whole requirement for teaching remotely for emergency purposes – which will have issues for students that need to overcome the Great Firewall of China.

The advantage of Jam Board is that you can share the material with students, much like you would when sharing a Google Document, and they can access the material and complete tasks remotely. There are also a range of tasks that you can set up, including matching exercises (words to images, words to definitions, etc.), reordering activities (putting headings in order, putting ideas in order of importance, etc.) or pictionary with the tools for drawing.

The disadvantage emerges when you cannot have keyboard quick-keys such as Ctrl+C (copy) and Ctrl+V (paste) and you would expect some right clicking to bring some more pop-down menus but that is not the case. Perhaps with time, Google will refine the whole experience, however at the moment it is a little clunky and requires a little more improvement to make it more intuitive. Finally the colour palette is restricted to around ten colours – it would make sense to make all colours available.

Website 2: Google Drive

Google Docs is a very useful online word processing tool whereby students can access the same document remotely

Google Drive is a popular application which many teachers and educators have used to encourage group work and participation. You can do many things with Google Drive: you can create quizzes (with Forms), allow students to complete written work together (with Docs), and you can also arrange individual students to submit their work via Google Drive.

I have used Google Docs in the past to allow either groups of students to report back communication (as in the example above) or to develop drafts and offer feedback with individual student writing. Also with Docs, you can make a note of all key language, feedback and error correction, and share this with all students via email after the end of the lesson.

Again, the disadvantage of this is that those that are based within China will have difficulty accessing this material or to contribute to activities, but the way around this is to download the document, email it to said student, and then await their contribution to copy with the rest of the class.

Website 3: Padlet

An activity whereby students can either share images, videos or descriptions of their home as part of a lesson

I was introduced to Padlet last summer by another teacher and was also recommended to it via Twitter. It took a number of months for me to finally build up the courage to incorporate it within a lesson – actually my last lesson. If you are not familiar with Padlet, it is a great tool whereby students can share documents (for their written work), images, videos, etc. Also, once you share it with your class, students will be able to comment to each other and like things which have been shared.

The greatest benefit with Padlet is the fact that it is available throughout the world, including China. I had no issues with my students based in Mainland China contributing to a scavenger hunt activity – again a huge thanks to someone on Twitter who recommended this task – and students made some wonderful contributions. I am also using Padlet as a depository for recording any EAP-related work, materials that have been developed as well as contributions to conferences, with the aspiration to achieve BALEAP Associate Fellowship – something which is a little difficult with the national lockdown, while motivation wanes. I highly recommend other teachers to incorporate Padlet within online lessons.

Other Websites Worth A Mention

There were some other websites that were mentioned that I have not had a chance to look at but those that were suggested included:

  • Wordwall: this seems like a really interesting website but if you wish to incorporate a little more within the lesson, there is a charge.
  • Learning Apps: this website looks like an open-source application whereby users can create applications or tasks for students. It needs a little more investigating but so far, it looks like there is a bit of potential.
  • this is a similar to a traditional whiteboard with all the necessary tools (at first glimpse). I have not used it but will check this out in due course.
  • Triptico Plus: I haven’t looked into this but after a very brief check on their website, they seem to offer an environment whereby you can build online lessons and activities. Just need to review further in due course.
  • Lino: this seems like a sticky-based app where you can share various videos, audio, etc. with students with them responding in due course. I will need to look into the potential but there seems some interactivity involved with this application.
  • Nearpod: the goal of Nearpod is to “Make every lesson interactive” and I do like the sound of that. I will have to check out their potential but they do have some very inspiring statistics but I will need to dig a little deeper and try this out in the future.

If you have any other websites that you recommend for develop engaging or inspiring online lessons, please let me know in the comments below. It would be greatly appreciated.