Video Conferencing in 2021 and Beyond!

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Video Conferencing in 2021 and Beyond!

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Video conferencing apps, like Zoom, have been a life-saver for students and educators around the world this year. Now that it seems like Australia is past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should take stock.

How should teachers be using video conferencing to ensure they achieve maximum impact? And what will teachers be using this technology for in the future?

Oh, 2020.

Be gone.

Brutal bushfires, a paralysing pandemic, polarised politics… need we go on?

The pandemic, in particular, has upended our families, our schools and our workplaces. It has forced many of us to fundamentally change the way we teach and learn. Video conferencing apps have been indispensable. Let’s put our newfound tech know-how to good use! Let’s talk about Zoom!


How should teachers be using video conferencing? Three helpful hints.

1. Etiquette

Your online classroom should have the same tone and rules as your regular classes at school. Engagement, positivity and mutual respect are essential!

Teachers who are well-prepared are much more likely to maintain an effective online learning community. Schedule your meetings a few minutes early. Try to be the first participant online to ensure the connection is working, and to check that your regular security settings are in place. Some teachers like to let the waiting room grow while they make sure their learning environment is A-OK.

This is similar to arriving a few minutes early to your classroom to check that there are enough chairs and tables or to make sure you have enough paper or whiteboard markers. Easy. Effective.

From the very first online lesson, teachers should clearly explain their expectations. These should include no silly or off-topic conversations from the students either in the video or in the class chat, no videos or photos of any participants, and no silly backgrounds or names. Simple. Respectful.


2. Energy

Rolling! It’s learning time!

Working with up to 30 students in a classroom can be tiring. It’s a performance! Teaching online can also be deceptively tiring. To engage your class, you’ll need to be energetic and energising! Bring your students out of their shells. You’ll need your grandest hand gestures, your brightest smiles, a lot of variety in your voice, and an arsenal of amazing tasks and learning strategies. This is not a boring lecture! You will need to be 200% YOU!


3. Engagement

Don’t let your students zone-out. They should keep their video cameras switched on unless there is a compelling reason for turning them off. Camera off = likely not engaging.

Direct your questions and comments to individual students, sympathetically of course, just as you would in the classroom. Ask your students’ opinions. Ask them how their day or week has been. What else have they been up to? Design learning games in which the students have to engage with each other. Depending on your year group or specific cohort, use break-out rooms. They can be fantastic for group-work.


Future Zoom!
Or, once we’re all back in the classroom, what should we be using Zoom for?


One straight-forward future-use of Zoom will be to use it to connect with absentees, including students who are unwell. And if students are unable to jump online during your lesson, you can record single lessons or whole units of work for them. These can be shared via a URL or as movie files. 



Bring experts into your classroom using video conferencing! Your experts might be artists, scientists, farmers, writers, activists, politicians or super-parents! Students have always valued outside perspectives. They perceive their days to be very repetitive. They’re often right. Zoom, and similar apps, can help educators break out of their old habits. Younger and older students will value these interactions for both the expert knowledge they bring, and for the thoughts they provoke about future careers.

Savvy teachers and agile external organisations are beginning to reimagine the nature of school incursions and excursions. Here at Kimberlin, we have been absolutely inundated this year with inquiries about our remote learning initiatives, including our Expert Classroom and Virtual Classroom programs. There is a change in the air! The pandemic has accelerated it, but it will be refined and perfected by you!

This year has been tough on all of us, but it’s been incredibly tough on students and their teachers. Let’s turn lemons into sweet, sweet lemonade! Let’s take everything we have learned about online learning environments this year and put it to great use!


Gotta go! I’m off to a webinar!

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