Ideas to make your students active in distance education

While we thought we would find a semblance of calm with the start of the year in our classes, some had to apply distance learning faster than expected, many classes also found themselves in both face-to-face and remotely. Here are some ideas to encourage students to take action.

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While we thought we would find a semblance of calm with the start of the year in our classes, the health situation unfortunately deteriorated rapidly. Some had to apply distance education faster than expected, many classes also found themselves in so-called “hybrid” education (both face-to-face and distance learning).

Quickly, the implementation and collaboration between the students was essential. Here are some “tested and approved” avenues to promote these, particularly in high school. 

1- Take advantage of the collaborative possibilities of digital platforms

Whatever digital workspace (ENT) or platform one uses, one can learn to exploit the possibilities of collaboration and group communication. (If you are not using one, I sincerely recommend that you focus on this primary goal of mastery before anything else).

Sending a file by email or messaging, even with instructions, will not create opportunities for collaboration or effective two-way communication. Moreover, the students themselves often replace the educational channels with others of their own and where they can exercise this need, for example in a WhatsApp, Instagram or Snapchat group.

  • Moodle notably offers the possibility of creating discussion and exchange forums by adding resources. This addition inside the virtual classroom space will encourage students to take action.

The tutorial to help: https://youtu.be/u0zIrCF3sGc

  • Microsoft Teams allows the creation of specific communication channels within the team (or private if that meets your objectives). You can also proceed through the collaboration space inside the class notepad.

The tutorial to help : https://vimeo.com/399484703

  • Google Education Suite including Classroom, which seems to be a must have. Do you also know the application " Cat "? In addition, the collaborative features on a document are to be used without moderation to put students into action.

The tutorial to help: https://youtu.be/-9xKLv9XQnI   

2- Voting / quiz tools

The students can take action through the use of an interactive voting tool. There are many of them in the educational sphere and respond to this need for interactivity which is sometimes so lacking from a distance. The platforms mentioned above sometimes have these functions, directly integrated. In other cases, it will be interesting to turn to outdoor applications. We can see the students' choices and answers live, thus avoiding the purely ex-cathedra adopted during remote synchronous work phases.

Some examples of applications

  • Microsoft Teams integrates the possibility of launching questionnaires Forms live during your videoconferences (to be used in the cat to engage your audience).
  • Wooclap “The Belgian Swiss Army Knife”, as we say here, is an updated equivalent of Mentimeter.com, is free for primary and secondary teachers.
  • Kahoot, famous app for creating quizzes that put students in action by answering interactive questions planned by the teacher (or built together!).

Tutorials to help: https://sway.office.com/fNKTJArMMLI6nEkD?ref=Link&loc=play

Prerequisite: mastering screen sharing

To effectively use this type of distance learning application, it is important to first master video conferencing screen sharing. Without it, it is difficult for the teacher to show everyone the results of the vote, which is certainly the most interesting part since it allows exchanges and immediate feedback. Indeed, if the student can participate without problem individually, he will however have to rely on the teacher's screen sharing to see and understand all the responses sent by the other students in his class.

3- Pedagogically divert the functionalities of videoconferencing platforms

It is not uncommon for videoconferencing platforms to offer interesting features for the teacher to exploit. Here are a few to encourage participation.

  • Chat (cat) useful for compiling students' questions while waiting to be able to answer them. For a live analysis, send here the addresses of sites that students will need to visit, for example.
  • Raise your hand a feature present in almost all platforms that allows you to manage speaking turns efficiently.
  • The “breakout rooms” (virtual sub-rooms) to carry out live group work by creating several videoconferencing rooms where teams can meet and among which you can "circulate".

The tutorial to help (with Google Meet for example): https://youtu.be/qLtYbS6zCHg.

4- Alternate between synchronous and asynchronous teaching

In class, a teacher mobilizes different methodological approaches to promote learning. This is also true at a distance, and it is just as important to maintain the motivation and attention of the students (and to encourage them to take action).

Honestly, how many of us are able to listen to 6 or 7 50 minute periods of video conferencing in a day while remaining focused? Here! This is why it is essential to vary and adapt your learning paths.

Digital technology can help us in this regard, through interactive supports and exercises. Indeed, one can privilege the activation during asynchronous phases by supporting the theory given by short videos. Live moments are ideal for correction and pooling. 

Wherever you are dear colleagues, I wish you good luck in facing this crisis! Moreover, do not hesitate to share your tips by leaving us a comment below.
For other free tools for hybrid training, Carrefour education offers its distance learning guide.

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About the Author

Laurent Di Pasquale
Laurent Di Pasquale
Laurent Di Pasquale is a secondary school human sciences teacher in Belgium and a digital-supported pedagogy trainer. He describes his pedagogy as being deeply positivist, human and innovative. Her first four years in special education forced her to show creativity and benevolence in her practices, in order to make students want to learn, despite their difficulties. He also helps his colleagues on a daily basis to develop their practices. This is what pushed him since September 2018 to open a Facebook page dedicated to Ed.Tech, where he publishes new tools to use, daily advice, and examples of innovative activities.

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