This week’s best practices for your online class meetings
By M. P. Ramaswamy, Barry Lee Reynolds, Frank Gong, Katrine Wong and Chris Fulton
With online learning now being implemented at the University of Macau, committed teachers are holding classes online with UMMoodle and Zoom. This blog post features some of our colleagues’ tips and best practices. Let’s see what has worked well to support teaching and learning of different disciplines in an online environment.
Prof. M. P. Ramaswamy (FLL)
Blending the best of online and classroom pedagogy using Zoom during the class suspension.
Among various tools providing a dynamic learning environment in Moodle, none equates with real classroom experience as much the integrated Zoom utility offers. During the challenging period of suspension of classroom meetings, I have been using Zoom regularly to offer real-time classes online. With Zoom, I was not only able to conduct classes as per the original schedule but also harness it with the effective teaching and learning needs of legal education. I found that the Socratic method of legal education, warranting live interactions to emulate a courtroom experience is fully made possible through the powerful features of the Zoom program.
The specific features I found useful to ensure effective learning are the possibility to simulate a live debate on any topic of learning among large participants, the tool that enables the creation of breakout rooms to separate a large class into small groups to achieve active learning through group discussions, the ability to supplement with public and private written chats, the prospects to test specific learning outcomes using the polling tool and the technical means to ensure student attention and involvement even during long class sessions.
Such features are readily accessible using the embedded Zoom gateway built into the UM Moodle without having to separately open and maintain a Zoom account in its proprietary web platform. This facilitates the use of powerful features without having any need for technical expertise or training. The quick learning curve, the ease of use as well as the effectiveness of the learning features highlighted above should motivate a full utility of the Zoom program among academic colleagues in not only legal education but also across other disciplines.
The role of CTLE and ICTO in this regard, bringing together mutual learning through shared experiences and facilitating the use of Zoom, deserves to be commended.
Prof. Barry Lee Reynolds (FED)
Colleagues can use Zoom not only for real-time delivery of lectures but also to record full or mini lectures without requiring students to be online. These recordings can then be uploaded to Moodle. This method is useful for colleagues that would like to get familiar with Zoom before leading a lecture or activity in real time. Here are the basic steps to follow:
1. If you intend to use presentation slides, make sure to open your presentation before starting Zoom.
2. Open Zoom and confirm the audio (and video if you wish) is turned on.
3. Start screen sharing by sharing your presentation program (if you are using slides).
4. Start recording.
5. Use your presentation slides to lecture as normal.
6. End the meeting.
Once the meeting ends, Zoom will automatically create a video file and audio file of the lecture. This is a great way to do any type of screen recording without needing to learn any new programs.
Prof. Frank Gong (FED)
Here are a few things that I have been doing during this period of online T&L:
- I give students PPTs and readings two or three days before a Zoom class;
- I suggest that students preview learning materials in advance;
- I suggest that students go into a Zoom class with questions;
- I print out PPT hardcopies before class in case of interruption of the Zoom transmission;
- I check functions of Zoom before the class (mic, video, chat etc.);
- I frequently check with students if the Zoom teaching is clear for them;
- I use homework/tasks to consolidate Zoom learning;
- I review students’ submissions to check their learning process and outcome;
- I provide other communication channels for students, such as email and discussion forum.
Prof. Katrine Wong (CTLE/MLC/FAH)
I find that taking regular breaks from screen helps keep everyone engaged. It’s been more than 2 weeks since I started my regular Zoom class meetings. I typically structure my class as such:
30-minute Zoom (with ongoing chat activities)
30-minute Zoom (with ongoing chat activities)
Video or no video?
A few of my students have written to me and explained why they couldn’t switch on their camera during our class meetings on Zoom: ‘My siblings and I are having Zoom class at the same time, our home WiFi is not strong enough to support both our video feeds’; ‘I don’t have home WiFi, and I need to divide my phone data plan wisely. Switching off my camera helps me save my data usage so that I can stay within my data plan’.
As much as I encourage students to switch on their camera whilst in class, I appreciate the fact that sometimes circumstances stop them from switching on their video feed. After all, as long as students are with me during class discussion on Zoom, as long as they respond to me when called upon to speak, and as long as they are on task, I’m fine with it.
It’s also useful to remind our students to mute their mics when they’re not speaking. This helps reduce distraction and environmental noise during your Zoom meeting.
Dr. Chris Fulton (CTLE)
Two common technical questions asked by colleagues relate to screen names and screen sharing. First, we can change our screen name either permanently or temporarily.
1. In a meeting, teachers can temporarily change screen names by opening the Participants list. Next, move the mouse over one’s name and click on rename. Lastly, type a new name.
2. If the feature is enabled by ICTO, one can change one’s screen name to show one’s first and last name. To do this we will need to edit our profile at https://umac.zoom.us/profile. Sign in with SSO (UMPASS).
Colleagues new to Zoom have also enquired about how to share the sound from a video. When one wants to play a video using share screen function, one needs to click that share computer sound button.
Here is a list of resources to facilitate teaching online. In these resource pages, you will find different methods described, with supplementary step-by-step guides:
· CTLE: Getting Started With Online Classes
· CTLE: Five ways to make the most of UMMoodle
· CTLE: Can I conduct online classes with a basic Zoom account?
· ICTO: Quick Start to eLearning
· How To Use Zoom? 如何使用 Zoom?
Students who would like more information should pay close attention to their courses on UMMoodle. Video tutorials on how to use UMMoodle can be found at an ICTO page, A Distance Learning Quick Start Guide for Students.
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2. Chat live with our support team by visiting your account and selecting help in the lower right hand corner here.
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