7 easy steps to engage your students during live video online classes in itslearning


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student at a table sharing information with her work group via video conferencing

Picture of Bart van Kimmenade

Bart van Kimmenade, Product Owner, itslearning

Video conferencing has become an integral part of remote learning. For many teachers and students, it’s now a necessity to use Microsoft Teams meetings, Google Meet, Zoom or other live video tools to keep learning going during this period of school shutdowns and social distancing.

Efficient, effective and economical – such tools make it possible for teachers to stay in touch with their students and colleagues, and for students to maintain a human connection with their teachers and peers via real-time video interaction.

With itslearning, it’s now even easier to use live conferencing tools. You can click the icon in the text editor to add either a Google Meet or MS Teams online class meeting link. This can be done anywhere where the text editor is available in itslearning such as Assignments, Pages and Announcements.

Use any video tool that supports LTI

You can also seamlessly link any other video conferencing software, such as Zoom and Big Blue Button, to itslearning using the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) tool. Some organizations may not allow for video conferencing or use alternate external providers, so please check with your system administrator for more information on what video conferencing tools are available to you.

Here’s some ideas on how to best use video conferencing when students and teachers cannot meet face to face:

  • Set specific times for video conferencing
    • There is little doubt that video can help deliver learning and training in a more efficient way during remote learning. However, as someone who has been very involved in education for many years, I don’t recommend replacing all regular class time with video conferencing. It’s not healthy for students to be in front of a screen for several hours. Over reliance on video could also lead to students becoming bored and disengaged.
  • Determine what instruction needs to be done via video
    • Not all instruction has to be via video. There may be times when synchronous communication is not needed, such as when you want to tell your students where to find some information. Send an announcement, or record an audio/video message using the itslearning integrated audio/video recorder instead.
  • Video interaction encourages active participation and engagement
    • Encourage your students to have their video camera on and set time for Q&A so students can verbally ask questions for better two-way interaction. Facial expressions, body language and tone can communicate so much more than a simple text message.
  • Split the class into smaller groups
    • You can use ‘breakout rooms’ for collaborative sessions. Smaller work groups facilitate better interaction and communication. Not only do smaller groups encourage quieter students to participate more, they are also a good way for students to take the lead and ‘teach’ (share knowledge with their peers). Research has shown that students who ‘teach’ what they’ve learned have better understanding and knowledge retention as well as other benefits, as this article explains.
  • Security and privacy protections
    • Be aware of potential risks. Select a vendor that is GDPR compliant. Determine the data that vendors are collecting, maintaining and know how they are using this data. Know who is the data processor and who is the data controller. Use multi-factor authentication for improved security and lock your live sessions to prevent online intruders.
  • Practice good cyber hygiene
    • Ensure that all teachers and students are aware of data privacy and GDPR. Talk to your students about your school’s rules around live online classes such as recording virtual classes and posting the recordings on social media.
  • Connecting with parents and guardians
    • Video conferencing is a great way to maintain ties with parents and guardians, especially if you are teaching younger students. However, parents should not be attending online classes at home alongside their children, unless you have opened the class to parents. Your online classroom should be no different than your physical classroom, with similar set boundaries.

Video conferencing adds a personal touch to remote learning and there’re many more ways to use video tools to connect and create exciting learning. You can always share your ideas and get inspiration from other teachers in the itslearning community by visiting our Teachers’ Lounge. itslearning super teacher Angela Burgess has this week shared with the group her latest newsletter, in which she talks about adding a Google Meet directly within itslearning, additional tips about Google Meet, and fun resource groups for teachers.

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