Teaching Online: Questions and Help

I have no idea what I have to do or how to do what I don’t know how to do. I don’t even have a webcam! I’m a total computer moron, and I’m sure I’m not the only one around here who’s starting to sweat bricks.
Please use this thread for questions, helpful suggestions, guides and walkthroughs.

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To start, you def need a decent webcam and a good mic so the kids can hear clearly.

I have the logitech C920 and it works very well for my needs.

https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/computing-components/peripherals/what-webcam-5-reviewed-and-rated-1027972

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Do you have a computer?

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I seem to. It does crash periodically, though.

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Did you say you were using an old windows operating system?

I worry the webcams and whatever program you would use to do the video sessions might not work with a old operating system.

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I’m using Windows 7.

I think you might need a new computer tbh. I’m not sure how things will run on that operating system.

Maybe @Marco can help. He know a lot about computers.

There seems to be a plan afoot to not do online teaching, but to get the students to do assignments via email.
I’m praying to The Old Gods and The New. :praying: :pray: :praying:

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Hey! My PM offer from last time still stands.

I’ll even sit beside you on the MRT if we need to get parts :grin:

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Thanks, mate. Much appreciated. :heart:

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It will work but he may have to boot into safe mode and disable driver signature verification.

Could probably teach off of your phone if you had to, depending on grade level, etc. Spend some time on youtube–everyone overseas has really taken up their game the last 15 months and there are more resources now. It’ll be okay.

Does your school have a specific computer package to use? My university has us all on Microsoft Teams, so that’s what I’m going to have to figure out how to use this weekend; the teachers and students all have accounts.

Basically it lets them see and hear me, and I can share parts of my computer screen with them: PowerPoint slides or word files or whatever.

Technically you don’t need to use a webcam, but I think it would be odd for the teacher to always be audio only.

They seem to be going for that, as Zoom is not allowed.

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I’d say your first step is try to install Teams on your computer and see if it’s even possible: take it from there.

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Depending on your students and your learning outcomes you may choose different platforms (Moodle, Zoom, just email) and different activities. Sometimes the best and easiest thing to do is basically what you were going to do anyways.

It would be helpful to know what you teach, and how you usually teach it.

I am teaching Content and Language, integrated, for professors who are transitioning to teaching in English; so my content tends to be pedagogical or sometimes meta-langauge. I’m lucky that classes are small but the shift to online teaching means they will also be busier than usual so I want to make the online teaching more flexible for them.

I’m lucky that this week I’m preparing an unusually content-heavy lesson. So, I’ll proceed with my slides as usual and then record a lecture over-top describing the points on the slides and how this relates to the course so far and/or to their needs. This is basically the same as I was planning, so it is easy to accommodate. A shame that I can’t see the confusion on their faces, and I can’t ask questions to check their understanding, but on the bright side they can control playback so if they need to listen again or look up a word they have those options.

In a face-to-face class I would usually plan some activities around some of the content to break up the lecture and give them some speaking practice. Here is where I am lucky to not be far ahead in my lesson prep because in an online context I will not ask my learners to meet at a given time for synchronous meeting through Zoom/Teams. I haven’t decided what I will do for activity, but probably I will give them some mini-assignment where I ask them to take some point from the lecture and give me an explanation of how this can be useful for them. If I proceed like this, I prefer to give them flexibility in how they respond (an audio file, a written text, maybe a video/animation) but I’m learning that flexibility doesn’t work well with the students (partly their culture, partly the challenge of learning in a foreign language) and I expect I will not get great results. The good news is, there will be a few good submissions and I can use them for examples next time. I will give feedback on these (written, verbal) with the goal of improving their English.

In addition to direct instruction of content, every week we have micro-teaching where each learner gives a 3-5 minute presentation based on our previous lesson (this week they should be presenting their lesson plan outlines). For moving this to online learning I will ask them to send me a recording, audio or video, and I will give them feedback using my voice recorder (faster than writing). Because I only have 21 students this shouldn’t be difficult; if I had 60 students in a conversation class I would do something like have them work in groups to record dialogues in order to give feedback, and then make notes on common language problems and send the feedback en masse.

For my plan this week, all I need is email and a spreadsheet to keep track of who has sent things in and who I have responded to. I already have a spreadsheet of registered students with their email list, so I’ll just add a few columns and I’ll consider that attendance.

Next week I don’t know, I’ll worry about that in a few days, but I’ve already made it clear that my syllabus is a work in progress so I might shift to “language for email communication” as a topic for one class and “designing online learning activities” as a topic for the week after (these are already on my syllabus for level 2, so it is just temporarily moving them forward). For “designing online learning activities”, I have previously used web quests with Thai students learning to teach English, and with international students in Canada in a graduate education course, and both times it worked well, but it will depend on how busy my learners are with their own students…

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Oh FFS. It looks like my university’s guidelines are the students are having distance learning, but teachers have to go to the regular classroom and use MS Teams to present the lesson as normal. So not only is it distance learning, it’s distance learning with a crap computer that uses Windows in Chinese (I know the Mac system). The friggin’ thing is going to be audio only, with no video at all (well, except for shared computer screens for PPT or whatever), because there aren’t any webcams on the campus computers.

I thought I had a fighting chance of figuring out how to do this from my home computer. Now … ugh.

Oh, bonus point that I’ll have to be holding a microphone, because I don’t think there’s a way to get audio-in from the USB ports (I tried a couple of years ago and failed). So … not literally one hand tied behind my back, but damn close.

I hope these guidelines will change in a hurry.

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See if you can record narrated powerpoints and share and then do Q&A live. That’s probably the lowest bar technically and the most likely to get students the content you want.

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Do you have a USB plug-and-play webcam at home, or would you be willing to get one?

Also, a few days before my first class I took all my stuff to the room when it was empty to do a trial run; making sure I could use the technology I had with the technology in the room. I wouldn’t advise going into the room 5 minutes before you are expecting to begin and hoping everything just falls into place (Murphy’s Law).

Also, just assume a shit show, so no reason to get stressed out. You have been put in a less-than-ideal situation through no fault of your own. All you can do is your best, you’re not a god.

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Geez! Hardcore! Luckily my uni has said DO NOT COME IN! ALL CLASSROOMS ARE LOCKED!

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