Tools for teachers in online classes

Getting to know technology is the first and foremost aspect of entering virtual education. Teachers must be familiar with the online platforms they choose. From tools to functions, they should accustom themselves so that they can use it every day with ease. Knowing simple functions such as muting a conversation or providing microphone access to students in need are vital necessities with regard to online classrooms, says Ms.Lola Shiv Shankar. Many resources are accessible to teachers free of cost, while some teaching applications can be availed through payment.

The basic tools from Google, such as ‘Google classroom’ help the teacher save time, keep activities organized, and help in communicating with students. “Google Jamboard’ is a whiteboard-like touch display that helps in meetings and presentations. Similarly, ‘Google forms’ is another tool advantageous for worksheets, multiple-choice questions, and collecting survey-related questions.

For science and mathematics teachers, an application called ‘PhET’ provides interactive research-based simulations. A link can be sent to the students or the teacher can choose to teach them to experience it. ‘GeoGebra’ is another powerful mathematical tool useful for teaching concepts and solving math problems. This also includes providing solutions.

‘GoConqr’ is also an application that can be used by the teachers. This application includes tools to create mind maps, flashcards, slides, and quizzes. For drawing purposes, ‘Whiteboard.fi’ is an excellent digital board that engages students to create drawings. To improve vocabulary skills, ‘Word Wall’ tool can be used by English teachers.

Paid applications including Augmented Reality features to create experiences pertaining to real life, which enhance visual and auditory experiences. Three-dimensional models, animations, sounds, and videos are all part of such tools. Digital Worksheets in the form of interactive live exercises can be self-corrected and sent to the teachers. Mentimeter is another online editor that can be used to create polls, quizzes, slides, and images. This tool is fairly used for making engaging presentations. ‘Padlet’ is a free tool best described as a virtual notice board where students and teachers can post notes on a common page.

“You have to be very familiar with your online teaching platform”.

To know if a student has learned lessons, teachers can make use of an application called ‘Quizizz’ that conducts student-paced formative assessments. From ‘guess games’ to flashcards, this tool is helpful for monitoring such progress.

Generally, no online classes are conducted for kindergarten students, instead, teachers are advised to send them interactive and lively videos. Seeing their teachers on-screen will instill in them a pleasant feeling as well as wanting to learn more. Good quality videos and usage of props would make the session better.

For teachers who need more assistance in learning about cyber tools, there are various paid applications that teach about using these tools. It gives more knowledge and insight into the vast world of online teaching.

Online teaching vs traditional classrooms

Despite the challenges of virtual classrooms, there are many advantages that can make an online session interesting for the students as well as teachers. A proper network should be available for the students to engage in, making it an experience of a traditional classroom combined with online applications. A well-balanced combination of these factors can make for good class participation.

When it comes to teaching styles, teachers should use their own methods but remember to give shorter tasks to students. Assign them more work, to encourage flipped learning. This gives more effort from students and less from teachers. Avoiding long texts on screen, but breaking down of information would enhance the attention of students. Include various teaching styles to make the class more interesting. Using props, dance videos, or music in between online classes will better a student’s learning experience.

“It should be a combination of both, then only children will enjoy”.

Students should come to terms with this new system and adapt themselves to the changes involving their school life. Usually, a few minutes of recess are allowed during school hours, where students exchange details of their personal lives and discuss matters of interest. Parents could take up responsibility and guide their children to maintain a bond with their peer group. Making voice calls and video calls among friends or groups after school hours will help students to destress and accept the new practice.

Regarding the time allowed for virtual classrooms, Ms. Shiv Shankar states that going by the MHRD guidelines is adequate for any session. As directed by the MHRD and several eye hospitals, four sessions of thirty to forty minutes for higher classes, two classes of forty minutes for lower to middle school and a thirty-minute session for kindergarten is the allowed screen time. In between these sessions, teachers have to make students blink their eyes and allow them to concentrate on objects elsewhere in order to relax and ease vision.

What are the 21st-century skills for teachers?

For a successful class delivery, certain tips can help teachers to understand why an online class could be challenging. A well-presented teacher with lively gestures and a pleasing attitude would catch the attention of students. Looking at the camera and starting the session with a general chat ensures that the student is equally involved with the class. A simple way of showing appreciation to a student is by offering rewards in the form of stickers, smileys, or online certificates.

Courses like the Neurolinguistics Programme (NLP) help students build their communication skills and develop personality, it is also a great way for teachers to remove examination fear from their students. According to Ms. Lola Shiv Shankar, a basic course is sufficient for schoolteachers to help students boost their academic confidence.

“Online classes needn’t be with just online tools, there are other factors which help teachers to keep children engaged.”

Voice modulation during conversations with students helps them be more attentive. Communication between teachers and their students is a prime factor in online classrooms. To make certain of hassle-free conversing, teachers can give access to microphone features meanwhile others can make use of the chat boxes. If a child requires to speak to a teacher, the teacher should try to understand the student’s needs and speak in clarity, even if it takes to converse in their local language.

Giving a screen-time break is necessary for health benefits. Teachers can ask students to look around or play outside. Lectures can be substituted for interactive sessions, making sure that students remain active and participate equally. Similarly, teachers can ask students relevant doubts to keep the classes interesting.

As far as parents are concerned, they need not worry about their child learning. Teachers would try putting in their sincere efforts to educate them. Parents should communicate with the children in order to know and monitor their progress. A parent’s responsibility is to make sure that the child reciprocates the effort put in by the teacher. Parents should be at the backseat and motivate them. No parent should judge a teacher as these platforms could be new to them as well. As a child learns, so does a teacher.