Maintaining the Connection of the Classroom 2 - Keeping it Simple

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You may have read my previous blog around maintaining the connection with your classroom. This was written as teachers moved from a classroom situation to teaching online.

Link to Blog - Maintaining the Connection of the Class RoomMaintaining the Connection of the Classroom

I wanted to write this post as the current circumstances means more and more educators are providing resources online to students who are working under a very different environment. Things have changed very rapidly in the last few weeks. In my role, I'm so lucky, I spend my time with fantastic educators around the world, looking at ways of using Canvas to change and enhance educational delivery. The situation we are presented with today means we need to step back and focus on new users, under pressure and with little time. By this, I mean our students and parents as well as teachers. They are juggling many priorities of a personal nature as well as professional. 

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After thinking about your level of capability with the tools make a decision on what is really important now

Then let's ask ourselves 3 questions.

1 - Can we actually find time to be online together?

Tips

  1. Use Virtual Classrooms as open Q+A sessions.
  2. Don't forget the "Chat" tool.
  3. Use a single-threaded discussion tool to gather questions.

When everybody is at home, it may be putting a strain on the people as they spend more time together. We also need to consider it could be putting pressure on the internet and access to devices as well. Will your whole class still be available at the normal time?

We can think of what can be delivered in your virtual classroom on a continuous scale.

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If you are not used to delivering online video classes, maybe a simple approach in the time online together will be more beneficial. Consider setting your work in assignments and discussions that can be completed asynchronously. Use shorter webinar times. Do they really need to be run at the same time as the usual school schedule? These sessions can be an opportunity to answer your students' questions or cover a crucial point they've not grasped in the assignments and quizzes. Do not undervalue you explaining a concept verbally.

If circumstances mean that web calls are inappropriate or inaccessible, you can use the chat tool to answer questions and support students synchronously.

Discussions can also help maintain the connection of the classroom and could be more accessible to students if they are unable to attend a scheduled virtual class. These to allow students to share ideas but simply keeping one discussion board pinned and open to gather questions can help students ask for help and gain support.

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2 - Will they find their way around my course?

Tips

  1. Use the first module in your list as a box for this week's resources and tasks.
  2. Set due dates or add to the student to-do list.

There's no point in setting work that they can't find behind a large number of clicks. The modules page in Canvas is a fantastic way of presenting your resources in a structured manner to your students. Think about your students (consider parents) and their ability to navigate the course. One idea is to put a module at the top of the page with the current work. You can drag and drop, or move the module if need be.

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Canvas automatically creates a to-do list for students. If you add dates and times to your tasks, it increases the visibility for students and helps organise their time.

3 - How do they get feedback when I'm not available?

Tips

  1. Use short self-marking quizzes where feedback is given based on a response.

When you can't be online at the same time as your students, there's no need for them to wait to get feedback on simple concepts. You can add mini-quizzes and if you use the feedback tools in the quiz students can see straight away if they've grasped a concept or idea.

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I hope this discussion blog has been useful and feel free to comment. We see the work and effort you put in during these challenging times. Remember, you can only do what you can do. 

Stay Safe!

Jonathan

Summary of Ideas

  • Use a single-threaded discussion tool to gather questions.
  • Don't forget the "Chat" tool.
  • Use Virtual Classrooms as open Q+A sessions.
  • Use the first module in your list as a box for this week's resources and tasks.
  • Set due dates or add to the student to-do list.
  • Use short self-marking quizzes where feedback is given based on a response.