Sitting all the time in front of the screen during your video sessions or Zoom meetings can make your students bored and distracted. You’re also likely to get bored and tired from sitting in one position. I know you need to sit down in front of your camera so that your students can see you. Yet, moving from time to time will make your lesson more fun and interesting.
Here are some hints:
• Stand up and interact with your students as you did in traditional face-to-face learning. Adjust your laptop at a higher level to make your face visible to your students. Stand back in order to move from one side to the other and students can see your body language and hand gestures.
• Even if you can’t stand up you can still move. Move a few feet away from your camera while you’re providing instruction to grab more your students’ attention. And get closer to your camera to listen to or read your students’ questions, answers or comments.
• Interrupt your students with an unexpected stimulus or what’s known as Pattern Interrupt. This can help your students refocus since you’re surprising them. So, move, play music, stand up, laugh and have fun with them. Because this is the ‘Unexpected’ they’ll not just get attentive but also enjoy more your online classes and learn. Here are two examples that can induce such effects :
1) Assign a task to your students online (individually or in groups). Pretend that you’re leaving the room for some time so that they can communicate freely with each other, ask for help and so be at ease because you’re not watching them. Your students will see you walking away from the room. But, you’re going to stay at the door for a few minutes.
Then, come back silently, hiding from the camera so that they won’t take any notice. Surprise them by getting suddenly too close to the camera, saying: “Ah! How are doing with (name the task)”? Or “I can see what you’re doing”!
2) While you’re providing instruction turn off your camera and pretend that something wrong is going on. After a few seconds, turn it on, stand back and show your students you’re happy it works again. Then, ask them to remind you what you have said or explained so far.
2. Use Non-verbal Communication
Using non-verbal communication in online learning can help you get your students’ attention online. Because it makes students feel more connected, seen and heard from a distance. It can also help you save time and promote their participation online. There are various signs you can share with and explain to your students. For instance, to praise students’ effort and work you can do a thumbs up. Also, get close to the screen and do high fives or a fist bump with the student while smiling and showing that you’re proud of him/her.
These gestural praises are not only going to produce positive motivational effects, but they’ll also help you build more connection with your students virtually.
Standing up can also help you show your body movement and communicate your messages. Even if the camera angle only covers your head and shoulders, your students still can see you using your hands and body language. To learn more using sign language online read this post: How Using a Little Sign Language Can Improve Online Classes
3. Create Interactions
To capture students’ attention in your online classes, it’s so important to incorporate different interactions: teacher-students interaction, students-content interactions, students-students interactions, etc. So, vary the way you interact with your students. Don’t focus only on sharing the screen during your video sessions, but do also a split-screen, engage directly with your students, use the whiteboard feature if you’re using Zoom and switch between these within the same lesson.
Besides, help your students interact with different types of content. Use full-of-text presentations, engaging videos, images, etc. Also, get them involved online. Pause to ask a question and invite students to answer or comment. Encourage them to work in groups, to generate questions, to explain to each other, and involve in discussions using breakout rooms.
4. Help your Students Decompress
Many studies have found that pausing for a moment to relax is essential for resetting students’ energy level, retaining and staying on task. To do so, use brain breaks in your online classes (during 3 to 5 minutes) when you feel your students’ energy and attention are waning. Some examples of brain breaks include :
• Singing together, • Playing a musical instrument or asking your students to do it. • Practising yoga or making some movements. • Taking a selfie with your students. • Sharing jokes or funny anecdotes. • Playing games and making guesses. • Watching a funny video.
Even if you have not planned for any particular brain breaks, try to incorporate breaks that allow your students to re-energize, drink water, stretch their legs and take some time to breathe outside that learning environment.
To get your students’ attention online, try to move, use non-verbal communication or signals, help them experience different interactions and learn through, and think about them when they need a rest or break. You can make online learning more enjoyable and engaging for your students.
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