This year has been a roller coaster in more than a few aspects of our lives, and education is no exception. The transition to remote learning has been challenging. However, instead of focusing on the obstacles, let’s explore the positive sides of online teaching and learning, and what benefits they bring to both teachers and students.
Thanks to new technologies and modern software and tools, such as the online whiteboard, videoconferencing, etc., there are many ways to create a more personalized experience for students and make the studying process more rewarding and interesting.
Are you searching for ideas on how to improve student engagement in the virtual learning environment? One of the tools that can have a large impact on the learning process is the online whiteboard. It’s simple to use and you can incorporate it right away in group activities, as well as in one-on-one lessons.
At first glance, the online whiteboard is an alternative to the whiteboard/blackboard in classrooms, but it is actually so much more than that. This interactive part of the virtual learning environment is a great collaboration tool for synchronous learning. It makes it easy to incorporate an abundance of visuals, games, and exercises that encourage students to take an active approach in their lessons.
How to improve student engagement using the online whiteboard?
- Work in small groups. Although the virtual whiteboard allows the ability to collaborate with multiple participants at the same time, it is better to teach to small groups of students (no more than 5-8). This way there are fewer distractions in the learning space and it is easier to give individual attention to every student.
The online whiteboard is the perfect virtual space to improve the collaboration and the teamwork skills of students by encouraging them to actively interact with one another and to express their ideas, opinions, and knowledge through drawing, writing, images, etc.
In addition to working in small groups, one bonus tip is to teach in short live sessions. The younger the students are, the harder it is to keep their focus on the lesson. Stick to brief lessons that are interesting and engaging with more visual techniques and students will be more focused and engaged in the studying process. Keep your students interested in the curriculum by assigning homework projects that stimulate their creative thinking, such as a task to create presentations on related topics (for instance “Wild Animals Living in the City,” “5 Things I Want to Do When I Grow Up,” and many more). This is a great opportunity to combine synchronous with asynchronous education by using the online whiteboard for projects and exercises.
- Visuals create a significantly more interesting and rewarding learning experience for students of all ages. The online whiteboard is packed with features for sharing content, drawing, doodling, writing, coloring, adding images, and making presentations. Visuals are one of the most effective ways to explain concepts and to keep students interested.
The ability to work together on the online whiteboard is great for incorporating exercises, such as creating mind maps, diagrams, concept maps, drawing, and including images and pictures. The virtual whiteboard is the space where students can express their creativity through storytelling, brainstorming, etc.
- Fun is an essential part of a rewarding learning experience. It is an awesome part of breaking up the monotony in class. Educational games encourage active learning and student engagement.
How to you use the online whiteboard for fun games in online lessons?
Create quizzes with both closed- and open-ended questions. They are great for the end of the lessons where you can recap the learning material in a more relaxing way. Crossword puzzles are among the easiest but also the most entertaining games you can play together on the virtual whiteboard.
Younger students will have a lot of fun with the game Hangman and will learn spelling and new words with ease.
Another stimulating educational game is Fact or Fiction. The teacher prepares in advance different information and statements and presents them to the students in the form of questions, images, riddles, text, etc. Their goal is to differentiate the facts from the fiction. This game is very effective for reinforcing learned material while having fun.
Among the most engaging experiences in the virtual learning space are competitions between teams. Divide the students in the class into small teams of 3-4 students. Present the rules, the goals, and the assignments, as well as the time frame for completing the competition. Each team works separately in a dedicated virtual space in the virtual classroom called a “breakout room,” and is provided with an online whiteboard for collaboration where every member of the team can contribute in real time and work together on the assigned task.