By using simple tools in Collaborate or Teams you can incorporate interactivity into you synchronous online sessions to enable students to feel more energised and engaged. Follow the tips below for inspiration.
1. Start as you mean to go on
Build in some kind of interaction right from the start of the session. Make it easy and fun such as adding an emoji or gif to the chat or taking part in a simple poll. This sets the scene for the rest of the session and builds students’ confidence to participate.
2. Agree the meeting etiquette
It could be around use of microphones and cameras, how to ask and answer questions, participation in breakout groups, or what to do if you have to arrive late or leave early. If you are seeing the same group for several sessions consider devoting some time at the beginning to collaboratively agree a set of ground rules that the whole group are happy with. If everyone’s on board, they’ll hopefully feel happier and more confident to take part.
3. Post an instant poll
Make it anonymous so that students don’t worry about their answer being ‘wrong’ or different from their classmates. Choose a fairly controversial topic to get people interested. Follow it up by asking if anyone wants to elaborate on their answer. Polls in Teams make use of the Microsoft Forms app and can be prepared in advance of the meeting.
4. Use the reaction buttons
Whether it’s applause, a like or thumbs up – this is a really quick way to gauge how students are feeling about a topic or question. The reaction buttons are a relatively new addition and students can access them from the ‘raise hand’ icon at the top of their screen.
5. Collaborate on a Whiteboard or a shared document
In Teams you can share Word, Excel or other documents, to allow people in the session to edit them – you can upload the file to the ‘Team’ and add a link into the chat. You also have access to a Whiteboard in every Teams session where you and your students can type, draw and add post-it notes. Access the built in Teams whiteboard from the screen share icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen and then select the Whiteboard from the screen options at the bottom.
There are a whole range of activities that you could base around a shared document or whiteboard from pooling of ideas to SWOT analyses, quizzes and knowledge checks.
6. Use breakout rooms
Working in small groups on an activity allows students to develop a deeper understanding and benefit from diverse perspectives and can help build a sense of community. Within a meeting you can use the breakout groups icon on the Teams toolbar to instantly put students into groups. You can choose to allocate them randomly to groups or add them manually. When you’re ready you can bring them back to the main group.
7. Check knowledge and understanding with a quiz
Questions and activities used as knowledge checks can reassure you that students are ‘getting it’ or highlight areas to reinforce. It can also help to engage students by giving them the chance to test and apply their learning. Getting answers correct can provide a motivating, confidence boost.
Use the Forms app which is part of Office 365 to create a quiz and share it with the group. Or use images on a whiteboard or shared document as the basis for questions and answers.
DMU staff who would like to find out more about any of the ideas in this article can attend our ‘Energise and engage students in a live online session in MS Teams’ staff development workshop. Further details are available on our DMU Connect page and on the My Development page of the DMU Hub.