The traditional classroom environment is generally assumed to be more engaging than the virtual learning space. But the changing global scenario has compelled educators to find ways of enhancing engagement in online classrooms. With a variety of advanced tools available online, it is absolutely possible to make e-classrooms interactive for students.
Here are some effective techniques to strengthen interaction during online teaching:
Choose the right tools
To begin with, select a suitable video conferencing software or app. At present, there are several digital tools specifically designed for conducting virtual classes. Some of the most popular ones include Google Meet, Zoom, Skype Meet and Adobe Connect.
However, before inviting your students to any particular app, you must check its features and test it carefully. There may be apps where you can hold live classes but cannot share assignments, while others offer multiple functionalities. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the chosen app aligns with your teaching techniques and goals.
Establish ground rules
Just as there are standard rules for a real classroom, you can establish a set of guidelines for virtual classrooms as well. This will let students know about the online etiquette expected of them. For example, when and how they can ask questions, whether they can use the ‘chat’ option, when they should mute their audio and so on. Setting such rules will help you carry out successful online sessions with minimum distractions or interruptions.
Present yourself well
Some teachers take live classes without turning on the camera. This kind of classroom delivery seriously hampers engagement with students. On the other hand, when you show your face in a virtual classroom, students feel more connected. Hence, you must conduct a virtual class with a camera and audio in proper order.
Furthermore, you must ensure good lighting and background, and maintain an appropriate distance from the camera.
Deploy diverse learning techniques
If you continue teaching with monotonous digital content, students will eventually lose interest in virtual classes. So, it is always a good idea to integrate different types of content into your lessons. You can use recorded videos, presentations, documents, audio clips and other formats of content. This way, students with variable learning styles can seamlessly adapt to your teaching method.
Besides, you should keep upgrading your course content and teaching methodologies as per new developments and practices.
Incorporate in-class activities
In conventional classrooms, teachers often include simple activities like giving students some time to read a passage or solve a problem. You can incorporate these activities into your live classes as well. Such tasks will help you assess the attentiveness of students and boost their participation in a class.
Interact on an individual level
The trend of online teaching tends to isolate students due to a lack of real interaction with peers and teachers. Thus, you must make them feel valued. For this, you may conduct occasional, short follow-up or clearing-doubt sessions in small groups or chat with them individually. Also, you can ask for their suggestions and opinions during live classes.
Give them independence
Students tend to grasp their lessons better when they are given a certain amount of independence and flexibility. To encourage peer-to-peer interaction among students, you can assign them interesting group activities that do not necessitate your presence. Furthermore, you can ask them to explore alternative learning tools for specific lessons. This will give them space for self-reliance and allow them to decide what works best for them.
Whether you are teaching in a real classroom or a virtual one, feedback is essential. However, since the online learning system is relatively new, students’ perception becomes even more significant for teachers. You can utilise online forms to receive feedback from students and then address their concerns accordingly. Alternatively, you may carry out feedback sessions periodically.
With time, the model of education may have changed and will continue to witness more changes in the future. Yet, with modern technology tools, teachers can always make learning a delightful experience for students.