Teaching remotely or teaching online is becoming more and more common, especially with the latest pandemic where teachers are finding their courses and classes being placed online. Since then, there has been a scramble for finding alternative and suitable applications to support teachers and students with their online lessons with Zoom being touted as the most appropriate.
In this blog post and video, I am sharing with you seven ways you can incorporate Zoom to help you with your synchronous remote teaching and to engage and interest learners with lessons.
Tip Number 1: Background Image
One way you can engage your learners is adding a suitable background image to your webcam. The good thing about Zoom is that you can create a virtual background image without the need of a green screen. The best way to engage students online is downloading a background suitable for the topic of your lesson. For example, if you are teaching about transport, you can download an appropriate background and upload it for Zoom. Students will know what your topic is or you could get students to learn or guess about the topic. There are more creative possibilities with the virtual background within Zoom but let me know in the comments of any ideas you may have.
Tip Number 2: Random Generator
Rather than nominating students independently, you can use other online tools to help you. A website that I like to use is Wheel of Names. You can use this selector to nominate students within Zoom and share the website with students via Zoom so they can see who is being selected for whatever activity or task you are setting. What you can also do with Wheel of Names is adding images (to review vocabulary) or incorporating sentences/sentence prompts to get students using key language. It is a wonderful website/tool and you can save particular wheels for use in the future with remote lessons.
Tip Number 3: Share Documents
You could share documents or student essays via Google Drive or Word via the share tool within Zoom. If you give students the opportunity to annotate during the lesson, they will be able to highlight particular corrections or comment on suggestions to help each other. Also, rather than just sharing the screen with students, you could share Google Documents with learners but make sure you allow them the opportunity to edit documents as I have made mistakes with just letting students being only able to view documents. Within Google Documents, you could comment on particular areas so that students are aware of possible changes.
Tip Number 4: Use The Whiteboard
One of the best things about Zoom is the fact that you have a remote whiteboard which students can see as well. You can use this whiteboard just like any physical whiteboard. The only thing missing from this is the capacity to import images within the whiteboard. If you were able to do this, then it would be great. There is so much potential but hopefully with future updates, there will be improvements. One game you could play remotely with the students is that they choose a word (which you have written on the whiteboard, along with others) and have to describe the word without telling other students the word they are describing. The other students have to guess what the word is that the students is describing. Once a student guesses correctly, that student then chooses another word to describe and the game continues.
Tip Number 5: Save The Whiteboard & Chat
One thing that is wonderful about Zoom is the opportunity to save the Whiteboard as an image or the Chat as a text file. It is important to save the Whiteboard at the end of the lesson (before leaving or finishing the class), as well as the Chat, so that you can share it either via email or other means. Any links that you include within the Chat function could also be saved for students and they could access particular websites for their own self-study. Also, rather than just saving the Whiteboard or Chat yourself, you could get students to save them on their own computer. You could also record yourself during the lesson and share it for students to rewatch when they find it convenient.
Tip Number 6: Get Students To Use Chat
One thing that I learnt after teaching remotely with my normal face-to-face class is that they can usually hide behind their devices and become less vocal. I would recommend teachers to get students to engage with the lesson and communicating by asking questions and responding where appropriate or suitable via the Chat function within Zoom. One of the initial obstacles that I faced was that students would turn off during the lesson by switching off their webcam or removing themselves from activities. This isn’t anything new but by getting students to agree to rules by responding to questions from students or the teacher as soon as possible would alleviate the possibility of students becoming detached from the lesson.
Tip Number 7: Use Kahoot With Zoom
One of the good things about Kahoot is the opportunity to share websites that you have loaded up. Kahoot is a great tool to review language or topics that you have covered during the lesson with your learners. Combining Kahoot remotely with Zoom is a wonderful chance for students to compete with each other online. It adds an element of fun and competitiveness which is sometimes lacking with remote teaching. Furthermore, you could also connect your iPad/iPhone with your MacBook via Zoom through Screen Mirroring.
One of the good things about Screen Mirroring is that you could share any Apps from your iPhone/iPad to Zoom via your MacBook. There is no limit with what you could incorporate within your lesson via your devices and it would be great to hear what ideas you have with Screen Mirroring your tablet or smartphone via your laptop.
I hope you found this blog post useful and some of these ideas offer inspiration with your remote lessons and online classes. It is relatively early days with remote teaching and it would take time to establish appropriate games: Online Kim’s Game, Online Word Finder, etc. Hopefully this blog post (as well as the video at the beginning of the post), offers some inspiration for teachers and don’t forget to comment your ideas below.
It would be great to hear your ideas and I wish everyone a safety at the moment, despite the difficulties that all are encountering. Stay safe, stay at home and keep yourself happy by teaching remotely.