Puerto Salvador Allende, Managua, Nicaragua - Photo by Jonathan AcuĂąa-Solano
Videoconferencing in Online Teaching: Practical Tasks By Prof. Jonathan AcuĂąa-Solano, M. Ed. School of English Faculty of Social Sciences Universidad Latina de Costa Rica Thursday, May 17, 2018 Post 320
I cannot say that working on videoconferencing rooms is a new task for me, which -in my particular teaching scenario- has become a routine in the last year or so. However, participating in an online course through the Consultants-E with Prof. Janet Bianchini has become an eye opener in several different directions and the videoconferencing room is one of these paths I must clarify for myself. Knowing the features of a videoconferencing platform is not enough to host a successful learning session with students; it does require practical tasks that can bring students together and that can help build a real community of learning.
Conducting a live session with learners is a challenging task, but finding the suitable components to make it meaningful and memorable is much more demanding. Prof. Bianchini proposed a very practical way of using the polls as part of one’s teaching in class. However, depending on the system one is using, this feature can be available or not in different ways.
Polls in the videoconferencing room
Schema activation activity to set the mood for the topic to be studied As an exercise to find out what students know about to direct one’s attention to areas where they need more coaching or just some review A survey to know what new piece of knowledge learners are living the session with
If the systems have this built-in feature, it has to be used by the instructor to profit from it in terms of re-directing his/her teaching to foster a smooth learning process. Screen sharing is another practical feature most videoconferencing platform have for online tutors. This characteristic allows the instructor to think creatively and personalized tasks that can become interesting, meaningful, and thus memorable for all participants. So, what can be shared through screen sharing? Basically, anything one can think of is shareable.
Screen sharing in the videoconferencing room
Sharing photos attached to memorable moments in the life of a person to have them speak about the experiences encased in those pictures Sharing texts written by former students to work on editing and sensitize them to identify mistakes or errors in writing tasks and to find suitable corrections Projecting reading passages or videos to generate the sharing of ides or to debate positions regarding the content of both types of media
And these are just three basic ideas to deal with speaking, writing, and reading. What else can be added here to cope with listening tasks? I bet it all depends on the creativity of the instructor to use the platform’s features. Breakout rooms is one of the most versatile features a virtual classroom can have. These pair/group work-oriented videoconferencing rooms can be used manifold and dependent of the ideas the instructor has to practice the content for the class.
Breakout rooms in videoconferencing
Pair or group discussions: Students can be taken out of the main room to deal with a topic or set of questions and then bring their points of view to the rest of the class. Role plays and skits: Learners can be provided with some set of roles for a conversation and let them build it based on a grammar component or thematic unit that is being covered in the course. Interviews: Students can be moved across rooms to discuss questions with different individuals for them to report to the class later on, like in the “find someone who” speaking task.
One of the best things about the breakout rooms is that they allow pupils to socialize and create the human bond we all expect to materialize in the F2F classroom. To sum up, videoconferencing in the online teaching of EFL/ESL/ELF can be highly beneficial for participants and for the instructor. Here it is listed just a handful of basic ideas that can be expanded way beyond with the aid of one’s creativity. In the end, it is the teacher who needs to get into some pensive mood and find ways of using his/her favorite language production activities in a virtual classroom and its features. Tasks can become meaningful and memorable and can be conducive to the creation of the ideal atmosphere for a community of learning in ELT. Journal Entry 03 BlendIt Course
Ideas to use a videoconferencing room in language teaching