Wonder if your child can benefit from online classes? We have gathered the 8 critical features for Online tuition that boost the effectiveness of our classes!
As a (online or offline) tuition centre with students coming from different schools, a robust and flexible curriculum and a strategic way of teaching (as opposed to going through answers solely using assessment books or past year papers) are essential to align students of different calibres and to steepen their learning curves.
Now that all tuition classes have to go online, it’s no surprise that parents start wondering “Can my child learn as effectively in front of a computer?” and “Am I throwing money into the sea?”
Over the past weeks of personal teaching experience, I have gathered 8 important and critical features to have for online classes that helps to close up the gap between online learning and classroom setting.
1. Teach using PowerPoint Slides with animation effects.
In classroom setting, I have the luxury to show the step-by-step strategy to solve a question. I can now mimic this experience by using animated PowerPoint slides where points are shown as clicked, and as I speak! This helps my students to focus on one thing at a time, instead of being flashed with a cluster of information (this creates a kind of stress and they would probably switch off).
This beats writing on the digital board as it takes more time, which gives our young ones the perfect opportunity to drift away. Besides, the digital fonts are nicer than my handwriting. On top of that, PowerPoint presentations still allow me to highlight, to write and to draw if I needed to fill up more information.
And this works with English such as comprehension open-ended too! I simply place one question per slide, and accompanied with the comprehension text on the other side. Added on with the sequential animations, it works like a gem!
2. Don’t scroll the pages excessively!
Sometimes I may need to use PDF/word/excel documents, and I make it a point not to scroll the pages excessively (up and down) or scroll them too quickly. This frustrates the kids (try doing that to yourself) and possibly makes them giddy. If need be, click on the page number at the top and move from page-to-page. Otherwise, attempt to scroll at a slower speed. Adding on, instead of flashing a big chunk of notes, try the Comment function and slowly release the information one at a time...
3. High Energy Speakers
I cannot emphasise enough how this is so important for online classes. If I think engaging the kids in a classroom setting takes 100% of my energy, I am doing 200% for online classes! Easy to tell, try sitting through a monotonous lecture for 15 minutes, I bet you fall asleep before that.
The volume and tone of my voice, my non-verbal actions… It doesn’t kill to drop in some humours into the lessons with some prepared jokes, no matter how serious an educator you are. Above and beyond, kids are still kids, I can get their attention easier with a ‘funnier’ way of teaching.
4. Live streaming Features
Most of the tuition centres will be dealing with live-streaming. Against popular belief, live-streaming classes take a heavier toll (physically, emotionally and financially) on educators than classroom setting. The preparatory works, the transitions, the worries of whether your kids learn properly, whether they can trouble-shoot their digital devices, whether we can complete the syllabuses on time, if my parents are satisfied and the list goes on.
That aside, what I want to say in this column are the features that we must have, or rather MUST NOT have.
(i) Disable private chats among students or group chat.
As much as sharing of knowledge is important, when the setting comes online, it is inevitable that the kids will spam the chat with non-related content. It is VERY disruptive for the class.
(ii) Make sure the Share-Video is on.
Privacy issue? Sits the kid against a wall so others still won’t see his/her background. Switching on the video allows me to check the facial expression of my students in order to determine the progression of the class. And for the tutors, I think it is psychologically very depressing to be talking to black screens!
(iii) Mute the students during teaching (do not allow them to unmute themselves)
As much as I encourage engagement, during teaching, I have to mute them. Being unmute somewhat encourages them to talk, and mostly irrelevant things. Rather, my take is to allow them to raise hand (digitally) and to keep directing questions to individuals for engagement, and so unmute him/her separately.
(iv) Security Measures
This is primarily the biggest concerns of parents around the world. So, please be sure that security measures are prioritised over monetary expenses.
5. Science Demonstrations, Online resources and Bring-the-experiment-home!
I do a lot of Primary Science. One of the key features in Geno House is that we carry out experiments to explain certain concepts visually. Now that the kids aren’t able to do so, we improvise by recording Science Demonstrations and using online resources that allow the students to conduct digital experiments (recently the students were constructing their own electric circuits, some ‘exploded’ safely). We also post to our students the simpler experimental kits and protocol, so they can conduct the experiment while following our demonstration ((https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlMcRvsS0tk). In this way, they can still bring the fun home!
6. Recorded Videos by Sections
I provide pre/post-recorded videos for my students, for a couple of occasions and reasons. Mostly, they are done in segments such as lecture or certain sections of tutorials. Clearly, the file for the entire live-streaming will be too huge and trust me, I am almost 99% sure that they will not watch if I were to send them the entire 1.5-hour of the lesson video.
(i) Recorded content, especially the important ones, they are still taught during live-streaming (in case they skip my video altogether). However, some lectures with deeper concepts will be pre-recorded to facilitate the transition between classroom setting to online learning. This gives them time to watch again on videos if they are unable to catch up during class (or if the platforms lag).
(ii) Post-recorded content. Knowing that online learning could take a while for some students to get used to, if I spot any blur faces during, I will post-record that segment and send to them too.
7. Organising submissions and uploads
Let’s say one tutor teaches 2 classes, with 10 pupils per class, we are talking about 20 emails per week, back-and-forth. And surely, we have more than one set of tutorials that needed to be submitted. Not just for the tutors, students would be confused and lost with emails flying around. At Geno House, we organise our uploads and submissions using the G-platform, so our students will always be able to retrieve the materials themselves, even if their parents aren’t around. One thing, my previous worry about kids unable to handle digital platforms, I am so wrong, IT is in their blood!
8. Small Tuition Class Size (maximum 10-12)
Despite lessons conducted remotely, I strongly believe the live-streaming lessons would be the most effective if the student numbers do not exceed 12. This allows me to have enough contributions from the floor (learning the unknown) and yet I could monitor each of them and decide on the lesson progression.
Hope these 8 critical features would be useful for your child’s learning journey over this period of online learning!