As full-time distance learning heads into the 11th month for many, teachers and parents are increasingly challenged to find innovative ways to keep students engaged while attending class from home. While video conferencing platforms provide an effective solution for allowing students and teachers to connect remotely, they also have a rich set of capabilities that can be used to make virtual learning fun and interactive. BlueJeans Meetings is easy to use and delivers a broad set of features to create an effective learning environment. Here are some tips and recommendations that teachers and parents can use to keep students engaged during online learning.
When learning in a physical classroom setting, students typically have a central focal point they concentrate on – the teacher. With virtual learning, concentrating can become nearly impossible. The most effective way to minimize distractions and foster better concentration is to designate a study room or area within your home where distance learning takes place. Replacing toys and electronic gadgets with books and other educational material is a great way to create an inviting learning space. Additionally, an overly stimulating background can hinder other participants’ experience. Encourage students to use solid, still backgrounds for online lessons that will help keep everyone focused on the lesson. Virtual backgrounds can add significant value while still making things fun. For team projects, students can get creative and transform their backdrops to match their work!
Collaborating with peers and instructors is a fundamental aspect of learning. In this virtual learning environment, students are missing out on crucial social interactions with their friends and faculty – hallway chats, before and after class quips, even in-lesson side-bars. Encouraging students to continually engage and build new relationships in distance learning can help compensate for some of these lost interactions. Group or private chats can be used during lessons and workshops to inspire creative discussions.
Take a Break
Sometimes, the process of virtual learning can become overwhelming as students sit in one place, class after class, staring at their computer screens. While the uninterrupted, focused learning time is important, it is just as essential to balance it with sufficient breaks. Ensure students are incorporating enough small breaks throughout the day to recharge and to help reduce screen stress.
As a wise woman once said, ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and snap! The job’s a game’. As education moves to the virtual domain, it is essential for teachers to adjust their approach accordingly. Adding an element of fun to the learning environment can go a long way in boosting student morale and active participation. Almost any lesson can be gamified. Adding a theme to the lesson based on a movie or show, earning points for active participation in virtual classroom, or receiving badges for team performances are some ways instructors can gamify their lesson plans. Teachers might consider using BlueJeans Smart Meetings to arm their students with a tool to mark specific moments that are particularly relevant during a class, and reward the ones that identify all of the “Easter eggs” appropriately. Similarly, parents can transform a plain weekly homework assignment into a fun game to ensure students are excited while continuing to learn and grow.
Virtual Escape Rooms
Similar to gamification, escape rooms present an opportunity to transform a virtual learning environment into a fun and engaging activity. The idea of a virtual escape room is simple and works best if multiple groups are competing against each other. Students must complete a task to retrieve or gather information needed to ‘escape the room’. The first student team to escape the digital room wins. Instructors can use Breakout Sessions in BlueJeans at the end of a lesson to randomly split students into different groups. BlueJeans Meetings allows instructors to create up to 75 breakout rooms. Each group receives a puzzle to solve based on what was discussed in the classroom and are able to escape the breakout room upon completion. Virtual escape rooms can be both challenging and fun for students and ensures collaboration in the virtual learning environment.
Digital Show and Tell
Visual explanations, diagrams, on-the-fly sketches, notes and annotation driven by students are other ways for instructors to keep students engaged. Students can use screen sharing in small group settings to showcase their work, engage with their peers, and also get feedback from a larger audience.
Institutions, teachers, and students around the world have transitioned to virtual learning since the global pandemic hit last year. This transition to virtual learning has provided an opportunity for institutions to enhance the learning experience through digital platforms to make them more accessible, interactive, and engaging.