Over the past month, education institutions have been working to transition their instruction online. We have been working with faculty and institutions during this triage phase of the rapid instructional design process, focusing on getting instruction moved on to learning management systems and digital platforms.
As this phase has started to wind down, and students are now taking their virtual seats, faculty are finding themselves looking for ways to leverage online spaces and tools to enhance their instruction. One of the biggest questions faculty are now asking is: how to do I make my class more engaging and interactive?
Our Tool Suggestions
Why We Love Them
Our very first requirement for recommending tools is always that we use them ourselves. Some of these tools, we've used for years in many different courses in front of hundreds of learners. Some of these tools, we're just now experimenting with in our courses, with our educators, and at the Toolkit. All of these tools, however, are tools that we have researched, vetted, and use.
Our second requirement is that they are user-friendly for both educators and learners. All of these tools are easy for faculty to set-up and also easy for students to navigate. They also have robust support services from troubleshooting databases, video tutorials, and chats. Their interfaces are accessible and mobile-friendly, meaning that everyone can use them wherever they find themselves.
Our final requirement for recommending tools is that they add something unique to the learning experience. This is a requirement because you and your learners will only be able to juggle learning so many tech tools, so the ones you introduce need to be right for your learners, discipline, and course, and they need to add value. Each of these tools provides something you are not going to find in your learning management system.
How We Use Them
Let's talk about how we use these tech tools:
Pronto: We use Pronto to build class community through live chat, send real-time announcements, and have face-to-face student conferences. It's an asynchronous and synchronous tool that gives our learners a sense of belonging. We love that this tool is mobile-friendly and that learners love the group-text look and feel. This tool is great for group work and learner-to-learner connection. We also love their commitment to accessibility and making sure our learners can have quick, reliable access to our materials.
Flipgrid: We use Flipgrid for icebreakers and mini-presentations. It's an asynchronous tool that focuses on customization and playfulness. We love that this tool allows us to personalize and humanize the online learning experience. This tool is great for getting learners started producing multimedia learning responses and artifacts. We also love that it is mobile-friendly and that learners love the social-media look and feel.
Playposit: We use PlayPosit to create interactive videos and enrich our lectures. It's an asynchronous and synchronous tool that focuses on making video content interactive. We love that this tools allows us to take videos we have already created and enhance them with multimedia, notes, and questions. This tool is great for making sure that learners are actively engaged with your lessons. We love that it can be embedded anywhere--learning management systems, websites--and that learners can take it on the go.
Whether this is your first time delivering instruction online or you're a veteran online educator, these engagement tools will help you and your learners stay connected while still social-distancing.