Individual or small-group videoconferencing allows for feedback to flow in both directions to support engagement and learning. For larger video conferencing sessions, speakers need at least one audience member to receive feedback in order to adjust their performance and maintain engagement. For example, my son sings along with his live music class of more than 40 students online. He responds to the teacher’s prompts and celebrations online even though my son’s mic is muted and the teacher is likely not actually looking at him.
Your job: Chose a format that allows for real-time, responsive feedback. Provide encouragement for students who get frustrated and celebrate with them when they reach milestones. Model how to actively participate in a conference call by asking questions and responding to the speaker verbally and nonverbally.
3. MOTIVATING: Does this media support students’ autonomy in their learning?
Many of us are working while homeschooling, so we are relieved when students engage with learning activities independently. Research shows that using multimedia that provides students with different options of how to play—providing a sense of autonomy support and structure—are more engaging and conducive to learning than those with only one way to play.
When students are engaging with something new, caregivers may initially need to sit and support them. Once they gain an understanding of how to complete interactions successfully, the caregiver will be able to step away. In our house, we spent about an afternoon reviewing how to use Hour of Code with our students. The next time they went to the computer, they needed a brief reminder, and we stayed close by. This week, they were completely self-directed and using the built-in tutorials as needed.
Your job: Set up an environment that fosters autonomy by building in choice and introduce new tools to boosts students' confidence to use programs independently. Look for programs that include many ways to play, which will increase their engagement.
4. PERSONAL: Does this media build relationships or leverage relationships to support learning?
Learning is incredibly social. When students know the teacher believes in them, they are more likely to believe in themselves. For example, having familiar teachers supports learning better compared with having new teachers. One of my favorite media examples is that toddlers can learn better from Elmo than from an unfamiliar puppet, but with some effort students can get to know new puppets and mirror Elmo’s advantage. At my daughter’s elementary school, the literacy specialists and teachers split up the instructional videos they created. I immediately noticed that she was more engaged with the videos from the teachers she knew.
When the in-person connection isn’t available, videoconferencing promotes bonding and supports relationships. Class online meetups can maintain a sense of community through rituals such as morning meetings, birthdays, and sharing. Setting up casual one-on-one or small-group chats is also fun and breaks up the days.
Your job: Be intentional about connecting your students with school friends and family. What used to happen naturally will now take more effort. Even small moments of connection are well worth it.
Over the next few months, your students will use several media and programs for digital learning. Some of these programs may be missing at least one of the above elements from RAMP. By keeping the questions and tips above in mind, you will be able to maximize media to ensure better learning outcomes for your students.
To help you continue teaching and learning during the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), visit HMH's At-Home Learning Support page for free resources.