Make Synchronous Teaching More Effective
Moving physical classrooms online comes with many challenges. However, instructors who teach in a synchronous setting can improve outcomes with a few strategies.
- Ask students to complete a task before scheduled class sessions. Then discuss that exercise during class.
- Require attendees to turn on cameras upon entering the session if their wi-fi and camera connections allow them to do so. Explain why seeing their faces helps you connect with your students.
- Remind students to mute their microphones when not speaking. This will avoid broadcasting background noise.
- Greet students as they “enter” class. A simple wave or a smile and a hello can do a lot to help students feel they are part of a community.
- Preface the class with an overview of what the day’s lesson will entail. Start class by telling students what they’ll be doing.
- Vary activities, and keep them short. It’s difficult for students to sit still through a long lecture. Break up the tedium for them (and you!) by changing activities several times.
Stay Focused When Working at Home
To quote BB King, the thrill is gone. Working from home has become more and more difficult the longer the pandemic goes on, and that’s bad for concentration. As the interruptions mount, experts offer ways to get back to business.
Control distractions. Silence alerts on phones and other devices, which can distract even the most dedicated worker. Turning off wi-fi can also help focus and minimize the temptation to check e-mail or social media.
Buy key supplies. Noise-canceling headphones and white noise machines can help block distractions. Stock up on sticky notes to jot down reminders, too.
Plan the day. Write down the day’s goals. Stick to working toward one goal at a time.
Schedule breaks. Use breaks to check e-mail, eat, and to conduct other at-home responsibilities.
Clear a workspace. Avoid working on a bed. Have a comfortable chair with proper back support and a spot on which to place your computer.
Finally, take care of yourself. Get enough sleep and avoid overeating, which can make you sluggish.
Facebook Returns to Its College Roots
Facebook, which started in 2004 as a way for college students to communicate but long ago morphed into the world’s meeting place, announced a new platform dedicated solely to college students. Facebook Campus is designed to allow students within an institution to share content that can only be seen by others attending that school.
Featuring chat rooms and a news feed for updates about fellow classmates, Facebook Campus will also publicize a campus’s future events and contains a campus directory. However, participants in that directory must opt-in—the app will not automatically populate with all student names.
The new platform has been adopted at some notable campuses including Brown, California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins, and Rice.