In my last post, we talked about how to help students retain information when they are in a virtual classroom. Today, I wanted to go over a few ways to make online learning more interactive. When you get in your groove, it is very easy to forget you’ve got people on the line and that you aren’t just talking to yourself. If you keep the class is interactive and engage your students, they have a better chance at processing and retaining the information.
Tips for Increasing Interaction:
1. Virtual Whiteboards
Allow students to use the whiteboard function through you web conferencing provider. They can brainstorm together during a meeting. Writing down ideas will keep them focused and allows them to work with you during the meeting.
2. Polling Feature
Use the polling feature to ask multiple choice questions during your session. You can test students on the information that you just taught and get instant feedback on whether or not they are actually “getting it”.
3. Application Sharing
Some web conferencing products allow you to pass control of your application to a student. Call on individuals and give them control of your document via application sharing so that they are in control and can try it on their own. It lets students show you what they have learned and keeps everyone on their toes.
4. Web Tour
This is a great way to allow attendees to surf the web and research topics that you may have just discussed. During a web tour you can “drop” participants on a certain web site and let them click around. When the tour is over, all participants are returned to the meeting.
5. Feedback Indicators
Colored boxes or emoticons that allow participants to show feedback will let you know if someone has a question of if you should speed up or slow down, etc.
Remember to talk to your virtual students. I realize this may seem like a strange one, however I’ve caught myself many times just going through the motions of presenting in an online class. All of the sudden, I realize I haven’t stopped for questions, asked for feedback or checked for retention. If you are using a slide presentation, put in markers in the notes area to remind yourself it’s time to stop and relate to your audience.
The practices that we would use in a traditional classroom are the same practices that we should use online: be engaging, check for questions, take breaks, engage students every five minutes, test for knowledge, role play, etc. With today’s technology, all of these are possible even when using a virtual classroom.