Everything you need to know about online teaching

Prepare your desk

In my opinion, you need at least two devices.

A laptop and a tablet

During the lockdown, I was using my Mac with Zoom to talk to students, to chat with them, to see them or to take attendance. In addition to that, I was using my iPad as a whiteboard shared with them to write and explain things.

Guidance for remote teaching

Speaking of Zoom, one last thing. Please remember some of the recommendations we gave last year to teachers:

  • You do not know who could be listening
  • All contacts to be made exclusively through school-issued email accounts
  • No use of personal phone numbers, no WhatsApp, no personal email.

Plan your online classes

Give clear instructions & guidelines

When we shifted to online teaching, I had to rethink the way I transmit instructions. Before we all went online, when I was in front of my students, I could always explicate my expectations. Now, my instructions are much more detailed, precise and numerous.

Synchronous and asynchronous learning

Maybe, as a teacher, you are used to synchronicity. It means everyone is doing something at the same time, in the same room, learning the same thing. That’s what is synchronous learning. Asynchronous is the opposite: students and the teacher are not engaged in the process at the same time, there is no real-time interaction. And no-one is in the same space. But can’t we take advantage of that? Using breakout rooms for instance. You are not dealing with 20 to 30 students in the same space at the same time. It’s an opportunity to make everyone work at his/her own pace, on specific and differentiate topics. You can deal with them as individuals without no one interfering. But let’s close these parentheses for now and go back to our subject.

Design your lesson

Distance/Hybrid Learning by Katherine Goyette

Katherine Goyette provides nice suggestions when it comes to designing your lesson. Read the article Distance/Hybrid Learning and watch the video to learn more.

  1. Set the stage (welcome your students)
  2. Content (deliver content: text, video, books to explore)
  3. Collaboration (provide students opportunities to engage with content in a collaborative environment)
  4. Synthesize Learning (provide students opportunities to demonstrate learning using a method of their choice)

The Learning Designer

Please also have a look at the Learning Designer.

One more thing

I also like this proposition of Alexis Kauffmann. We may call it a pedagogical learning scenario to design your lesson plan. In this example, there are seven steps:

  1. Quiz
  2. Hello
  3. Lesson
  4. Exercices made autonomously
  5. (Break)
  6. Exercices made autonomously
  7. Correction
  8. Goodbye

Engage the passive students

Greeting students is very important. Warm-up activities or ice-breakers are of paramount importance these days.

Google Classroom

In Google Classroom, just remind your students to write a comment if they don’t understand something. This is why most of the time, I create Assignment (instead of Material or Question) so that students can comment and ask any question they have whether they want to you to explicit instructions or clarify something.

Google Groups

I discovered last year that we didn’t use Google Groups. Google describes this service this way:

Give and get feedback

Provide feedback

At LIL, we make great use of Loom.

Receive feedback

Finally, I like the idea of asking students for feedback, to ask them how satisfied they are. That way, you can improve your work. We all had at some point to shift online and to learn a new way of doing our job. Students can help.

Assessment

How to assess online? If you have to, I suggest you use Google Docs or Exam.net.

Using Google Docs

  1. Work on a shared Google Docs (so you can check from time to time).
  2. No copy and paste in this doc (if you suddenly see 30 lines appear, it may be suspicious).
  3. Warn students you’ll check history.
  4. Use some antiplagiarism tools (more on that down below).
  5. Students have to keep cameras on all times (using Zoom or Google Meet). So you can check from to time to time.
  6. Sometimes parents are willing to help to monitor their child.

Using Exam.net

Exam.net was free until the end of 2020. It’s really a great online platform to assess students’ work.

  1. Student is prevented from copy/pasting anything during the exam.
  2. The student’s device is locked to the exam environment or the teacher is notified when a student leaves the app.
  3. Like in Google Docs, the teacher can monitor the progress during the exam and see the history of how the student’s text has evolved.
  4. The teacher can control the time of the exam (when it ends for instance, you can limit the time, force the submission).
  5. There is a built-in antiplagiarism tool (Urkund).
  6. You can anonymise the exam (student’s identities are replaced by a code, and you may reveal the identities after grading the exam.
  7. Exam.net can be used together with several videoconferencing solutions (Meet, Teams…). It can monitor what the student does on the device while the video solution monitors what happens at the student’s location. To be honest, I haven’t tried this (but I will).

Checking academic honesty

If you have any doubt about the honesty with which a work has been done, you may be happy to find some plagiarism detection tools.

Conclusion

You can really create a great online learning experience for your students. This is not an easy thing to put in place. It requires organisation and reflection to adapt your teaching to this new way of doing things. But it’s a real opportunity to raise important questions related to pedagogy, to find new ways to teach and to probably refine our use of technology. It’s also an opportunity to develop the autonomy of your students.

  • You can read this article and even copy and paste the all text formatted in Markdown.
  • You can view it in Slides mode. It’s a little bit like a PowerPoint presentation. Don’t forget you have vertical and horizontal slides as well. Use the keyboard ←↑↓→ to select which slide you want to jump to.
  • You can select Book mode. Yes! that’s an ePub!

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Yann Houry

Yann Houry

Teacher and Director of Academic Research & Innovation @ Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill