In my position as a technology specialist, I often participate in online meetings and webinars. However, I do not often lead online meetings, so this week’s live online lesson was still a bit of a new experience to me. I was very grateful for the opportunity to present to two trusted colleagues, rather than a live audience of strangers, because I still have much to learn before I consider myself an online teaching expert.
First, I found that my attention was often distracted with the unfamiliar controls of the online meeting app that I was using. I use a different online meeting app every week; in just the past month, for example, I have participated in a Google Hangout, an Adobe Connect meeting, a GoToMeeting, and a YouTube Live discussion. Each of these platforms has similar functionality, but the buttons and controls are all slightly different, and located in different places. The important lesson here is that an effective online teacher should select one platform for online trainings, stick with it, and use it often enough that students also become comfortable using it. In my district, we are currently shopping for a paid service to help us manage a series of webinar training programs we will be creating next year. Everyone recognizes the importance of selecting one common training platform; people are busy and do not want to spend a half hour learning a new platform every time they have to attend an online meeting.
Second, I should have taken the advice of Greene (2014), who admonished online instructors to speak more slowly than in everyday conversation. I tend to talk quickly, which is quite normal in the fast-paced administrative world, but when teaching students, time must be given for students to internalize what they are hearing, and connect it to whatever concepts are in their working memory. My colleagues were very polite, but I think I may have spoken a little too quickly and tried to squeeze too many concepts into a 10-minute presentation. If I were to ramble on like this for a full hour, many of my students might lose interest and start browsing other web sites on hidden tabs.
Finally, I noticed that my two students responded very positively to the live online quiz game at the end of my lesson. I selected Quizizz as the platform for this assessment because it is commonly used by K-12 teachers in my District, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used effectively for adult learners. Everyone likes to have a little entertainment with their assessment, after all; the soft music, colorful interface, and humorous feedback memes helped break the ice. Learning is difficult work, and teachers shouldn’t be afraid to take the occasional opportunity to have a little fun, as long as the focus on learning is not lost. In the case of my Quizizz game, my students completed a four-question quick check in about two minutes, which gave me a rapid insight into which concepts were well understood, and which one was still confusing to my class. This type of formative assessment is crucial in the online learning environment, of course, because students are not physically present, so it can be difficult to read their facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.
Greene, K. (2014, March 19). Wk4_BigMarker_Online_Lesson [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/_lF3-ox8AhA