One of my friends mentioned to me that her daughter was participating in a live school session from home while some of her classmates were also in the teacher’s class. At one point, the teacher disappeared from her videoconferencing screen while the rest of the distance learners remained, wondering what to do. When it was clear the teacher didn’t realize the disconnect had happened, one of the virtual students finally texted a friend in the physical class to tell the the teacher.
Another teacher shared on Twitter recently that he began his class with “a big bang”, gesturing profusely and full of zeal, only to find out after he finished his intro that his audio was muted.
These are the real, understandable issues that happen during live online instruction, especially when the teacher is responsible for students in the physical and virtual classrooms simultaneously. It’s frustrating for all of the participants, and I’ve been looking for practical solutions in my social media feeds. It seems that the only common element I can find is that you should have a plan that everyone (students, teachers, and caregivers) is aware of – because it will happen.
Though technology problems were what first brought this to my attention, another obstacle to overcome is privacy. We all know students who are reluctant to ask for any kind of help, but are especially reserved in public. Although some conferencing tools, such as Zoom, have chat windows, that can be set to private, not all have this option and, of course, they won’t work if the video connection is lost or frozen.
Here are some of the ideas I’ve seen, but I would welcome any more suggestions in the comments section for this post or on Twitter (@terrieichholz):
- Some teachers give out Google Voice phone numbers to caregivers. Similarly, others are using the Remind app.
- Students can use Classroom Q, an app and website where students can use a “Join Code” and add themselves to a queue to ask questions with the press of a button.
- In hybrid classrooms, some teachers suggest that you assign one or two students to monitor the live feed in case there is a breakdown.
- Have a standard Google Form where students can type in their names and a quick comment or question. (Benefits of this are that you will have questions on a spreadsheet in order, and you can keep a log of questions.)
This is all I’ve seen so far. Any other advice out there?