Zoom teaching has become the thing in the classroom since the start of the COVID pandemic. Now one year after the start of zoom teaching, there is a struggle to get students engaged. In some states, higher education students do not have to turn on their cameras. Imagine teaching to blank screens? Are the students listening? Are the students still sleeping? How do you know if the students are engaged with their cameras off? Last year, I had the opportunity to zoom teach and let me provide you with three ways to engage students in the zoom environment using active learning techniques.
Active Learning in the Synchronous Environment
Active learning is defined as when a person uses information in the service of achieving a learning outcome. As the instructor, you design an activity that engages the student with a specific outcome in mind. The students are engaged the entire time. In the synchronous environment, try the Pro/Con debate activity. The activity requires students to be divided into groups of 3 to 4. Students must prepare both pro and con to the topic you have issued. The students do not know which side they will debate. The students will go off into their group and prepare for both sides of the topic. Bring the class back into the main room and have pairs of groups debate one another. Provide each group whether they are pro or con. Group 1 debates Group 3 and Group 2 debates Group 4. All students in the group are actively engaged in the learning process, not just passively learning.
Analyzing and Evaluating
The next activity you can do in the synchronous environment is analyzing and evaluating a video, story, artistic work, etc. I had my students analyze and evaluate a companies marketing strategy. The way these activities work is to specify the learning objectives and the criteria for evaluating the work. The learning objectives for the activity were for students to identify customer’s needs from the marketing commercial. I told students to go on YouTube and find a marketing commercial that identifies the customer’s needs. I should have set parameters such as making sure the marketing commercial was appropriate for the classroom. One student showed a commercial from a non-U.S. company that bordered the line between appropriate and inappropriate.
The explaining activity is up to each instructor because you have the student explain their work. I did a creative space where the student draws an environment where they can be creative. I found the activity online titled “your creative space,” and I am providing the link. I gave my students about five minutes to draw their creative space. After time was up, I had each student turn on their camera and explained their creative space. If you want students to turn on their camera, do an explaining activity.
There are numerous ways to do active learning activities but start with at least one activity and how you like the active learning activity. You can check out more activities from the presentation I did a few weeks ago at the Adjunct to Adjunct Conference at Roosevelt University. How will you get students engaged in the zoom classroom?
Learning Technology Specialist with business experience. Check out more at www.jayphd.com
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