Is pedagogical practice in a face to face classroom different than in a videoconferenced classroom?
Some may say yes, some may say no. I maintain there is no difference between the two. If you’re an effective teacher in a traditional classroom, you’ll be an effective teacher in a videoconferenced classroom.
To teach over VC effectively, you first much teach in the classroom effectively, because while it seems that this huge technological barrier is in front of you, if you don’t have the proper mindset in place to communicate locally with your students, then you won’t be successful over video conference.
Accept that lecturing is dead as a form of teaching. Standing at a lecturn and using a powerpoint slides with limited interaction will work to their satisfaction just as it does in a regular class. They will get bored. It’s alright to have these presentations, just make sure they’re not the basis for everything that occurs in the classroom.
Don’t even think about ‘trying to give them the same experience’. Make that a given in whatever you do. Students at remote sites are just as much a part of the class as those at the local site. If you have this mindset, whatever anxiety you or the other students feel about the distance will be reduced significantly.
- At the beginning of class, a great way to test connections to the remote sites is to greet your students with a “Hey ‘X Location’, how are you doing today?”
- Use props, this way each student, regardless of location, is having the same learning experience experience. For science, treat the classroom like a lab, for maths, work together on a problem, for literature, act out a play or a scene from a novel,etc. Remember, the longer it takes to set up, the lower the chance that it’ll work well. Think, simple, but effective, for illustrating your point. This gives the students context, with interacting with the information you present them, and guides them in a constructive manner.
- Be as imaginative in your learning designs as possible. Remember the word ‘play’. Playing and doing kinetic and interactive activities can help the students get to know each other and help to create a community of learning.
- Just as you do in the classroom, make activation of prior knowledge a priority. Have them experience the content based on what they already know, then take some time to reflect on that experience by having question and answer time, or local / remote group discussions. Students should learn things for themselves, and this process helps them arrive at conclusions. All you’re doing is directing them towards the appropriate conclusion. This has nothing to do with their location.
- Technology should be transparent, so don’t call attention to the videoconferencing system if you can help it. The more the students don’t notice its presence, the less separated they’ll feel.
- If its within your means, try to travel to the remote sites and teach there once in a while. It will help to make the students feel more a part of the whole group, and like your institution gives equal weight to their learning experience.