I was talking to a colleague recently – I teach his son and we were discussing an activity I had used during online learning that week. My colleague said “Hey, you need to tell people about that thing you do with your Zoom chat, when you type instructions while you are saying them. That’s a good strategy.”
It took a while for me to figure out what he was talking about. I realized that I had developed a habit of repeating instructions, and new ideas or new vocabulary, in my Zoom chat at the same time as I was verbally presenting it on screen.
I can’t recall when I actually started doing this. But, it has – over time – become a part of my instruction.
I type fairly quickly (and I don’t need to look at the keyboard as I type), so typing simultaneously to speaking has never been an issue for me. But, for those who are not yet masters of the keyboard, one strategy is to have questions and instructions typed out in advance requiring you to only cut and paste them into the chat when needed.
Another great multimodal strategy I add to my instructional mix is the use of illustrations. I stage my Zoom classes in front of a whiteboard and use it regularly to help students visualize complex ideas.
The bottom line for me is to offer students more than one pathway in the exploration of ideas, providing them with the opportunity to select the option that best meets their needs.
I am grateful for my colleague pointing this strategy out to me. Until our conversation, it was something that I employed because it felt like the right thing to do. I really didn’t give it much thought. It makes me wonder if there are other small, but powerful, online learning strategies being used out there.
Here’s hoping we can get out of our silos and open a dialogue with our peers about what we do, or – better yet – have the opportunity to actually watch our colleagues in action. That would be transformative.
As always, write in if you have any ideas to share.