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  • Writer's pictureJames Kieft

My reflections and tips for working and teaching remotely

In this blog post I thought I'd do something different to the usual review of an app. We have all had to adapt the way that we work due to covid-19.So I thought I would reflect on how I adapted to working remotely.

Where to start.

With the move to teaching remotely we need to look at establishing a new routine, for both us and our students. That routine needs to be both achievable and realistic. I don't feel it's realistic to try to teach a full timetable mimicking what you did during your face to face delivery.

Teaching via screen is completely different to teaching face-to-face the energy and effort required is different but equally demanding. You and your students are presented with a range of different distractions, whether that is your children and pets to look after or their siblings and friends wanting to chat.

Which tools to use

Webinars can be useful as a way of conveying certain bits of key information, whilst getting some students input and feedback. Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet make this relatively easy to do, and both have the benefit of allowing you to record your webinar, so you can make it available for those students who can’t attend.

However I would suggest keeping your webinars short, no longer 15 to 20 minutes, as your students will find it hard to concentrate if they are too long. Instead of hosting a webinar, consider using a screen recorder, as a way of adding a voice-over to one of your existing presentations.

Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic are both browser-based screen recorders that are easy to use. To make your presentation video a bit more interactive, make use of a tool like Edpuzzle or Microsoft Stream that lets you add questions at various points in the timeline.

My suggested approach would be to record a briefing that details the work you want the students to do. This could be put out either at the beginning of the week or every few days, Make sure the students are clear on when the briefings are going out.

In addition to the tasks detailing what you want them to do, provide them with the timescale of when they need to be completed. Also let them know when you will be online for them to access support and ask questions.

Chunk your set activities and be realistic with how long you provide them to complete them. As you're not on hand to give them feedback try using a tool that will provide automatic feedback. Tools such as Microsoft and Google forms will allow this, as does the homework feature within Quizizz.

Here is my video playlist on how to use Quizizz.

Here is my video playlist on how to use MS Forms

I would suggest limiting the number of edtech tools that you expect your students to use, to a handful, especially if you did not use many during your face face teaching. Initially set some fun relatively easy exercises that help them to become familiar with how to use those tools.

Here is an infographic I created picking out the different apps I was going to focus on using with my students.

Remember not all students will have access to a computer at home some, may only have access to the internet via their mobile phone so consider this when designing activities that you expect them to do.

Even those who do have a computer may only have limited access because parents or siblings require it for work or study. Consider the length of time that you give your students to complete their work and ensure this takes into consideration their potentially limited window when they can access the household computer.

Looking after yourself

Remember to take regular breaks. I made a mistake on the first couple of days sitting down at the computer at the time I would typically leave to travel to work and only getting up to get lunch before sitting back down again until the time that I would usually get home.

Looking at the computer for that long is not good for you, I now try to chunk my tasks into bite-size pieces. I use Microsoft planner to help me to do this, MS planner also has the benefit that you can collaborate with colleagues so you can use it to ensure everyone is clear on who's working on what.

I now typically start the day by walking the dog or going on the cross trainer, I find morning exercise helps me to concentrate.

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