The pandemic crisis has continued over the past year, changing many people’s lifestyles. One of the main things that has gone through a change is education. Face-to-face classes have turned into online classes, making students and teachers unable to physically see each other.
Because of the sudden change, many schools, teachers, and students were, at first, not fully prepared for the new style of classes, causing a lot of issues. One of the problems was a lack of information on the virtual services available to them. The teachers’ lack of awareness of the new technology created confusion in classes and students, which led to less participation in class.
I remember my first day of university classes via Zoom. Half excited, half nervous, I was fully prepared for class, sitting in front of my laptop computer ready to participate in class. However, the link that I received was a private one and I could not enter the class without the password. The professor did not realize this issue and contacted the students thirty minutes after the class start time. This was a waste of time and money for everybody in class.
Although it has been more than a year since classes became virtual, there are still some improvements needed to leverage the quality of hybrid and virtual classes. In today’s blog, I will explain some steps to make a better virtual learning environment.
1. Learn the Technical Functions
First, educators must be aware of all the technical features of a platform. They must be familiar with every function of the platform in order to perform at their best in the virtual setups. If the teacher is not sure of what they are doing, the confusion goes straight to the students, just like my story above.
2. Identify the Strong Points
Once you’ve figured out how to use the virtual functions, the next step is to find out the strong points of virtual learning. People normally think that virtual classes are very hard and puzzling, but when used wisely, they offer a lot of positives.
Take break-out rooms in Zoom, for example. A break-out room is a system in which the teacher can make a number of virtual rooms and the students can go into the rooms in groups. This can be better for the students than the face-to-face classes because their voices are not mixed up with other students and they can talk freely without their teachers watching them.
Also, because students can send messages to the teacher privately, they are more likely to ask questions without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious. I use this function a lot in class, writing down the questions I can think of during class and sending them to the professor through Zoom Chat. Then the professor replies quickly through Zoom Chat or by speaking out loud.
3. Check in Constantly
The last step to maximize the effects of virtual learning is to check in constantly. Whether through Zoom Chat or break-out rooms, the educator should check on whether the student is keeping up with the material or going through any difficulties. They can even set up a one-on-one appointment with the student to help them even further.
If we cannot change everything that is happening, we at least should do everything we can to adapt to it. In this case, this includes using all the helpful functions of virtual learning. Nobody is sure when the pandemic will end, so let’s just make the most of what we have. Be knowledgeable of the new technical functions, find the strength in virtual teaching, and check in again and again. I believe these three steps will leverage our virtual setups to improve student learning.