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Many schools are making the move from on-ground to online classes. Having taught a fully online course at @USCRossier last semester, I wanted to share some tips for instructors who are using Zoom for the first time.
Be prepared: This sounds obvious but as an instructor, be sure to explore the features of Zoom to become as familiar as possible with the platform prior to your scheduled class.
Breakout rooms: Helpful feature which allows you to split the class into pairs or small groups. I used this feature EVERY class to break up the monotony of a full class discussion. I then popped into different breakout rooms to answer questions and listen to the conversation.
Before splitting the class into breakout rooms, make sure students are 1) clear on the task and 2) aware of the time allocated. You can also send class announcements (e.g., Bringing you back in two minutes; Move on to _____ if you haven't already done so).
Chat feature: Similar to an in-person class, not all students may feel comfortable speaking out to the entire group. Be mindful that students may be using chat to contribute to the class. Also note that students can ONLY see the chats that get posted once they enter the room.
Gallery View vs. Active Speaker: Each person can choose how they want to "see" everyone else in the space. As an instructor, I preferred "Gallery View" so I could see all students at once (this might be tough for larger classes).
Polling: I used this feature on occasion to survey students -- however, Google forms offered more flexibility and I would pre-create my survey and then paste the link in the chat box once everyone arrived.
Screen Sharing: Although you can share slides, handouts, or websites in a synchronous format, I DID NOT use this feature because students preferred to see each other's faces. Instead, I posted these as links in the chat (also sent via email and posted in the course LMS).
Organization: Depending on the class, there can be a lot of documents to keep track of. To avoid having an excessive number of windows open at once, I created a Google doc that included a list of links for each class. This allowed me to easily copy and paste a link in the chat.
Schedule meetings: Depending on your account, Zoom allows you to schedule meetings ahead of time. If possible, DO THIS. Zoom must be installed in advance -- this gives students a chance to test their audio and camera before their scheduled class.
Record the class: In anticipation of technical difficulties or absences, record the class so students have this for future reference. An audio transcript accompanies each of these recordings which is a great resource and supports accessibility.
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