Even after the pandemic ends, it’s likely that online teaching will continue to be a staple of higher education. As instructors, this means it’s more important than ever to refine our virtual teaching skill sets, so that we can provide superior experiences for all students.
Tips and Tricks for Better Virtual Teaching Engagement
If you’re a teacher or professor, your world has been rocked as much as anyone’s over the past year. And moving forward, it’s likely that you’ll continue to be affected on an ongoing basis. Virtual teaching is now officially part of the norm, and it’s up to you to adapt. Here are some suggestions for how you can become even more skilled at your job:
Use the Right Video Streaming Tech
Before even thinking about your curriculum and teaching style, it’s important that you get your technology right. The right video streaming technology and high-quality audio will make all the difference in the world. (After all, if your students can’t see and hear you well, how will you keep them engaged?)
While you can always use a basic option that’s available online, consider investing in a video system for live classroom streaming. The VALT system is one great option.
“VALT is a simple to use turnkey video system that both educators and students can learn in minutes,” Intelligent Video Solutions explains. “It provides low-latency live video to ensure a near real-time streaming experience with almost no delay. Video and audio streams in HD quality to ensure students receive as close to an in-person learning experience as possible.”
The beauty of VALT is that it doesn’t require any additional pieces of hardware (like encoders). Because it’s a browser-based client, it’s as simple as logging on.
Develop Digitally Engaging Curriculum
You might need to make some changes to your curriculum in order to create a successful online learning experience for students. There are certain topics and formats that simply don’t translate as well to an online environment.
For example, straight lectures probably aren’t going to cut it. Even slides can put people to sleep (especially when they can’t see your face). But the great thing about using a virtual teaching environment is that you’re able to integrate other visual elements – like YouTube videos and clips. Use these capabilities to your advantage!
Structure Your Teaching Properly
The longer your class sessions are, the more important it becomes to structure your teaching properly. Mixing things up and keeping students on their toes will ensure they remain more engaged. Switching from lectures to Q&A sessions to video to breakout sessions can be just disruptive enough to pull people in and ensure the information resonates.
Use the Right Voice and Inflection
There’s research to suggest that online instructors who show their faces are far more effective and engaging than those who simply flip through slideshows.
In addition to showing your face, be mindful of your voice and projection. It’s easy to become monotone and sound disengaged when you’re staring at a computer. For best results, set up your screen so that you’re able to see some or all of your students’ video tiles. This helps you feel like you’re speaking to a room of people, which will come through in your voice and inflection.
Avoid straight lectures. While there’s a time and place for lecturing, keep it to a minimum. The more you can ask for feedback from students and get them to talk, show their screen, and provide answers, the better the experience will be for everyone. Depending on the grade level and your experience with the students, you might even ask some students to do some of the teaching each session. This will draw in students in ways that you can’t.
Prepare for the New Age of Teaching
While physical classroom-based learning will always have its place, experts fully expect to see a major migration to virtual learning over the next few years. Many students who left the physical classroom and opted for online learning will never return to the classroom. Likewise, some who are still in physical classrooms will eventually make their own move.
The future of learning is a hybrid environment. And while it’s possible that you’ll return to a physical classroom again, you need to be prepared to engage students virtually as well. The hope is that this article gave you some helpful things to consider.