Remote Teaching: Some tips

As we are once again in lockdown and doing remote teaching I thought I would share some tips and things which have worked for me.

Big pointer

It a simple thing, but resizing your pointer makes it easier for students to see what you are pointing to.   Simply type Mouse Pointer Size in the search bar in Windows 10 and you will then get the ability to make your mouse pointer as big as you would like.

Lesson Holding Card

I now start the video feed on lessons just before the allocated time, using a holding card to display some basic info about the lesson.    The holding card is created in PowerPoint and I have set PowerPoint to display the slideshow in a window, which allows me to have the holding card on screen while also having other things on screen at the same time as I prepare for the lesson.

I note I could also use this holding card to list a starter activity for students to do; This is something I will be experimenting with over the coming weeks.    This just makes the lesson start that little bit more polished and controlled.

Thanks to @HecticTeacher for this suggestion.

@Forms; Quick Learning Polls in Teams

Thanks to @IanStuart66 for this one.    In Teams it is easy to quickly create a poll for students to answer.   This is really useful for a quick learning check at the end of lessons.

Simply type @Forms ? , , ……. Into the Posts within the channel you wish the poll to appear.   A poll will then appear under your message with a summary of the results showing under this.

So, for example, I might use the below:

@forms Are you able to add formula to a spreadsheet? Very Confident, Confident, Not Confident

Students can then respond in MS Teams with an instant summary display of the results also showing up in Teams.

Stream; Creating pre-recorded content

I strongly believe that when teaching online, it is best to mix synchronous and asynchronous methods.   For the asynchronous and for pre-recording lesson content or support materials my current go to app is Microsoft Stream.   I particularly love the ability to record picture in picture meaning I can demonstrate something on screen or go through a presentation, but with the students able to see me.   I think the ability to see me as the students teacher makes the content feel that bit more personal when compared with simply recording a narration over the top of screen recorded content.

Stream also makes it easy to control permissions so you can make it available to all students in a class or just some students in a class, or to the whole school, as needed.

The one additional point I will make in relation to stream, but also in relation to any pre-recorded video content, is to simply get it done.   Initially I found myself re-recording the content again and again to try and get it perfect, leading to a 5 min piece of video taking hours to produce.   I quickly realised this was unsustainable and that, like in lessons where we make mistakes or say “erm” too often, I am human so there is no harm in these things being included in the videos.  The videos simply need to be good enough for the purpose for which they have been created.

Conclusion

The above are 4 reasonably simple ideas which I have found to be quite useful in my teaching over the last couple of weeks. I hope that you find them useful or at least they provide you with another couple of items for your teaching toolbox.

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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