Supporting remote students in a hybrid/concurrent class

Below is feedback from a variety of remote high school students attending my school where the vast majority of their peers are on campus and in physical classrooms.

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

Feedback: Sometimes in class [my teacher] can forget to invite us from the waiting room, so I miss like the first 15 minutes but thats alright. 

Fix: No, it’s not. Bless this child’s heart. As the teacher, though, I get that you can’t simultaneously watch the Zoom waiting room and teach class. Delegate!

  1. Ask a couple of students to join the meeting from their computers then mute their mic and speaker to prevent audio feedback.
  2. Make these students meeting co-hosts. They can admit classmates from the waiting room AND monitor the chat.

The remote students added that they like to type a question into chat to replace the lost ability to whisper a question to a neighbor.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

Feedback: It’s tough to read the whiteboard via Zoom. 

Fix: Broadly speaking, beware of glare and check up on image quality often. I recommend you switch from filming handwriting on a whiteboard to using a document camera that’s then screen shared to Zoom and projected to the whiteboard. I like the wireless Ipevo VZ-X camera ($300) if you have budget or a mobile phone pointed at the table and joined to your Zoom call as a participant if you don’t have budget.

Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash

Feedback: it is a bit confusing converting all the deadlines into the time zone here, but fortunately I have contacted all my teachers, and they all understand my situation 

Fix: Share with your students that they can set their local time zone in Canvas Account settings. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to Canvas
  2. Click Account, then Settings on the left side
  3. Click Edit Settings on the right side
  4. Choose your time zone in the center of the page

At least one student has told me the time zone feature will change their life!

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Feedback: one thing that I can think of is probably not being able to hear other classmates clearly when we are outside. 

Fix: The student suggesting this went on to say “my teacher really helped a lot by repeating the students’ answers.” That’s a great interim solution, thank you, whoever was already doing this! 

Also, be aware that sound intensity drops with the square of the distance from the microphone. How can you get students closer to the mic while still distancing? A few solutions to try:

  • Reduce the group size.
    • Split the class. Give group A an independent task while you hold a discussion with group B.
    • Hold a fishbowl discussion. The folks on the inside talk while the folks on the outside work in the Zoom chat or a Google Doc to record observations, push conversation further, etc. 
    • We heard from remote students recently that if they’re the only one on Zoom, they find group discussion with 2-3 people in the group to be fairly natural. Bigger than that is tough to be a participant in.
  • Change the medium.
    • Canvas Discussions seem to work best if the discussion group is under 8 people. Above that, I think it’s tough to follow a lively discussion because of sheer volume. Encourage students to try audio and video responses within Canvas Discussions for variety.
Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

Do more of these please:

Further words from the remote students.

  • “Make me feel like I’m in the classroom by moving around the room on purpose (with the teacher marker) just to get the Swivl to move around. Also, it’s nice when the Swivl cam is at the same height as students.”
  • “I like when the Swivl view is of the class (as opposed to just the whiteboard). But, I want to be able to see the board AND the class at the same time.” You can do this! Point the Swivl at the room and use your laptop to see the whiteboard (or better, to screen share your document camera). Hit me up if you want help getting this set up.
  • My teacher is attentive to me and my needs as a remote student.

What’s been working for you and your students? 

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