There’s no denying that the pandemic has introduced significant changes to the student learning experience— class time is now spent interacting online through a combination of remote learning tools, including Zoom, messaging apps, email, and learning management systems. While both teachers and students have rapidly embraced the new virtual classroom environment, many teachers are finding that the most essential ingredient for learning —time with students— is suffering.   

The reality is no remote learning solution on its own, even Zoom, can directly replace the engaging in-person experiences the physical classroom provided you and your students. But with a few clever online teaching strategies, you can get smart about using your remote learning tools to create an engaging virtual learning environment that preserves more of your live class time for active discussions, answering questions, helping individual students, and even fun social activities.  

Here are three easy strategies that can help to maximize the time you spend with your students online.

1. Teach first, discuss and debate later

As a teacher, you already know live class time is precious. You may already be using a majority of it to deliver your lecture or lesson, but in the online teaching world, there’s a better way.  Using a “flipped class” approach, you record your lecture or lesson and share it in advance to allow students to view it prior to class.  This frees up class time to discuss the material and answer questions.

It’s normal for teachers who are new to the flipped class approach to feel anxious about recording lessons in advance.  While you may already have your lesson in digital format, such as PowerPoint, KeyNote, or any other presentation solution, trying to record yourself presenting it may seem daunting. But here’s the good news—it’s easier than you might expect. With just a few clicks, you can start recording your lesson and then instantly share it through YouTube or Google Classroom, or download and share it using whatever solution you wish, including your learning management system.

Flipping your class is one of the best ways to make the most of your time with your students, both online and in the physical classroom. In fact, according to the Flipped Learning Network, 71% of teachers who flipped their classes noticed improved grades, and 80% reported improved student attitudes as a result. Don’t hesitate to try it! If you need a little extra encouragement, here are some useful tips to prepare you for flipping your class

2. Assign and explain homework before class

Another strategy that will give you more time to interact with students during live online class sessions is to record a quick video in which you explain the upcoming homework assignment(s). In your video, you can be short and brief, or go into greater depth, referencing elements of your flipped class lesson that will reinforce the concepts they’ll learn in their homework assignments.  

To make even better use of your live class time with students, share your explainer video through your learning management system in advance, so students can familiarize themselves with the assignment and come to class or Zoom office hours prepared with questions they may have. 

3. Answer common homework questions before class time

You may find students are less willing to speak up during a live Zoom class session.  This doesn’t mean they don’t have questions about homework or concepts covered in a prior lesson. One advantage the virtual classroom environment offers students is the ability to use alternative communication channels, including discussion boards or the course page in your learning management system, to more comfortably ask questions.

Regardless of how students prefer to ask for help, in the virtual classroom environment you can quickly identify the concepts with which students may be struggling. The good news is you don’t need to use valuable class time to get everyone up to speed.  Instead, you can record and share a video that provides further information and answers common questions.  To ensure students achieve success with their homework, they can review (and re-review) these recordings at their own pace until the concepts sink in. 

Give Recording A Try

Easy-to-record videos offer a flexible, efficient, and effective medium for teaching remote students — without sacrificing valuable time in live class sessions.  And you don’t have to wait to begin putting the strategies we share into action.

Try recording a video right now with Panopto Express — our zero-install FREE screen and video recorder that works on your Mac, PC, or Chromebook, and supports instant sharing to Google Classroom, YouTube, or your LMS.