I miss those days in a physical classroom. I teach a beginner Chinese course for the age group of 7-9 years at weekend language school. Games-based tasks accounted for two-thirds of all my course delivery, in which sitting in a circle and playing vocabulary cards brought kids great fun. Most importantly, when playing games with kids, I could clearly spot whether an individual student has a good grasp of the knowledge or not.
The rest of the course activities came around playing Kahoot, the most used app in my classroom. This was an unbeatable way of totally allowing them to stay engaged in my class without any distractions.
But with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down schools across the country, kids, their parents and teachers are reimagining what the school day looks like. However, those changes extend well beyond what they need in a brick and mortar school. For many parents and school kids, it means a sudden deluge of technology, while selecting the appropriate and consolidating them in one platform could help kids and their parents spend less time and energy learning technology and steering clear of registering countless websites and apps.
I am fortunate that the guideline and learning outcome from eci834 have inspired me a lot in creating my online course. Google Classroom is a platform that all the learning materials could be consolidated in one place, in which, parents and kids could stay focused on the well-chosen materials, instead of searching around on the internet.
Another aspect I need to consider before delivering my online course is that I cannot take it for granted that every participant would have the same knowledge of using technology as what I have acquired. In this regard, I posted some walkthrough documents with screenshots and descriptive words aiming at showing participants how to use those related apps and sites before they hit the external links corresponding to course content. Google Classroom plays more than being an asynchronous learning management platform. When I host synchronous sessions via Zoom, it also helps keep my mind focused on the task at hand—and avoid potential embarrassment, like having too many tabs open at one time could even affect the quality of my call.
Beyond Google classroom, I primarily use Quizlet and Kahoot to facilitate my Zoom sessions. Quizlet allows my kids to learn the Chinese characters in a visual way by flipping the cards I have designed in advance. The genius part on Quizlet is when you type in the vocabulary on their cards, it always can automatically match a random image to your content, which enhances vocabulary memory associated with the authentic objects.
As for me, Kahoot will never disappoint me when it serves the way of motivating individual kids to catch up with others. “Let’s do it again”, this is what they always said when a round of the game ends.
Flipgrid is my choice for offering extra chances for the interactions between me and my kiddos for the rest days of the weekend synchronous class. My video contents on our Flipgrid community rely on feedbacks from communicating with parents via Wechat and text messages as well as kids’ responses to my questions raised on our synchronous Zoom sessions. In this way, I can post a video to help them address what largely shared problems they are struggling with or design a personalized video to fix the problems that are challenging individuals. So far this strategy goes well as my class is on a scale with approximately 6-8 kids.
One of the major concerns over my online course is that my course could become less fascinating, attractive, or engrossing if I would stick to the same set of apps or tools in my visual classroom. So exploring more apps that can fit in my classroom has become a priority. I really appreciate those apps and tools introduced last night, some of which serve a similar purpose with my current tools but come with the fresh layouts and new features to be explored. My plan for the next week is to dive into Edpuzzle‘s feature of making an interactive and student-centred video and to design a set of questions on Quizizz.com.
Keeping kids engaged during online learning is always a big challenge for me. My personal teaching practice online has convinced me that embedding technology into teaching holds the key to keeping courses dynamic and evolving in the 21th-century education setting.