Synchronous online means teaching not lecturing

Posted on Posted in Collaboration

I’ve been attending the Elluminati Community Conference today which gave me the opportunity to be both a speaker and a delegate, very similar roles to those of teacher and student. During one of the other presentations by Kimberly Gates, I realised that my use of Elluminate for my “class” left something to be desired.

Kimberly’s presentation was about reaching students who have poor levels of reading and numeracy but her tips were equally relevant to students of all levels. When she asked the participants how they would describe the session she’d been running so far they sent in the following comments (extremely rapidly):

Lots of polls
In easy to digest bits
yes, simple words
v. interactive – good
very clear slide content – not too cluttered
Lots of QA
Slide builds
appropriately chunked
Audio paired with text
lots of active learning
typing as you are speaking
lots of polls require interaction
revealing content 1 point at a time
You say and also we can read it
minimal slide text content
slower and lots of white space and large font on slides
you are speaking slowly and clearly
making sure that everyone understands
need to ensure color text can be read by students who are not color blind for red

Kimberly continually posed questions and asked people to type in the responses. She was multitasking by typing one thing while she said another (how did she do that?) Meanwhile I had basically just delivered a tedious traditional-style lecture; I could barely keep up with reading and advancing my slides, watching the countdown timer to ensure I didn’t overrun, referring to my notes and trying to look at the camera at the same time. I certainly did not manage to keep on top of the dialogue taking place in the chat window or monitor whether people were sticking up their hands, clapping or otherwise gesticulating at me…

Online synchronous teaching is not about lecturing at people – it’s about involving your class continuously in a whole host of different ways. I saw how you can bring video clips easily into your presentations to provide illustration; I saw great question and answer sessions with people either speaking their questions or typing them; I saw how students can interact between each other individually during the class as well as interacting with the whole class; I saw wonderful use of polls with instant feedback to the whole group, pointing devices which highlight particular parts of your slides… I have a lot to learn.