Hello and welcome to the tale of my first class this year and I should say at the outset that it was an uphill struggle- in fact, it took me 5 days to get ready for it!
Does this sound like you?
So, I was teaching a class on the role of an airport check-in supervisor to my HN 1st year class. We are teaching remotely, so it was all to be taught online-eeek! I had a PowerPoint from last year, so how hard could this be, right?
During lockdown I had used Zoom with my classes and found it straightforward, but we were moving over to Teams, but I knew Zoom so surely Teams was pretty similar?
Well, that was my first shock! I had NO idea on how Teams worked, and I had a class looming on Monday, so I had to learn it and learn it fast. So, day one was spent watching YouTube videos on using Teams and by the end of the day, I felt fairly confident I knew what I was doing. I set up my team and invited them all to their first class on Monday- I’m getting there!
Day two. Ok, so over to prepping the class now! Now, I have long been an over-achiever and boy, did I regret this characteristic when I planned this class! So, I decided to use an app on my iPad called Explain Everything. This app allows you to import a Google Slides presentation, and then use an Apple Pencil to write on it whilst recording yourself talking. Cool huh? Yes, it is, but again, a massive learning curve! By the end of day two I could import a Google Slides presentation (via a PowerPoint pdf), write on it and record some of the slides and eemm… that’s about it!
Day three- finished off all the recording of the slides. I decided to create guided slides so my students could take notes as they watched my presentation. Ha- so much easier said than done! Could I work out how to do this in Google Slides?- nope! So, on to Google to try and work it out and eventually got there after importing to PowerPoint and saving as a pdf- thanks Google!
So, after a whole morning spent trying to crack that problem, I imported my video from Explain Everything to Clickview to allow me to add questions in throughout my video to check for understanding. Again, no idea how to do this, so back to Google! Got there two hours later and it’s now the end of day three!
Day four and today I want to focus on an activity I want the students to do where they use a Mayfly to work out how many staff they need on shift to check-in, board and meet flights. This is quite a tricky activity, so in class I would normally spend ten minutes or so explaining how to do it, then split them into groups to get on with it. But that becomes more complicated in the online world! So, I spent this day making a video using Explain Everything showing them how to attempt this activity and learning how students can collaborate using Teams.
Day five- I spent today putting all my new material into Canvas. Now this is a new VLE in the college, so before I could get going, I had to learn how to use it all. But I got there and by the end of the day I was good to go. And I could quite honestly say that this is, without doubt, the most prep I have ever done for a class (and I have been teaching for 26 years!).
Show time! So, today is the day! My class starts at 1pm, so I go into my Team call just before 1pm and start letting students in from the lobby. I had watched a video during my “prep” showing me how to see all my students and I had enabled this setting. But, nope, I could only see 9 of my students and the rest were left languishing across the bottom. Then the messages started rolling in through the chat function- their microphones weren’t working, their cameras weren’t working, they couldn’t hear me or see me or…. Then I got an email from two students saying they couldn’t get connected- aaarrggh!
Anyway, 20 minutes later we were good to go! I know how to mute students on Zoom, but couldn’t work out how do it on Teams, so carried on regardless. And as I was giving them a guided tour of Canvas, I could hear a tweeting sound- yep, one of my students was online with her budgie beside her!!
The students worked their way through my presentation and seemed to enjoy it (they thought it was cool that I was writing on the screen!). So, on to their activity and it all went wrong. I had set-up different channels for them to go into so they could work in small groups. In each channel I had given them access to a notebook (via OneNote) so they could work collaboratively. I won’t go into exact details of what happened but let’s just say that chaos ensued!
Luckily after lots of to-ing and fro-ing, we got there and made it to the end of the class.
Now, as someone who has (ehem…) done a class on the hoof on occasion, I have to say that this class was a baptism of fire for me!
And I know that you may be reading this and thinking I was very ambitious- even over-ambitious- and you’re probably right. And, of course, I will get faster as I do this week in and week out.
But, if my first class has taught me anything, it’s that this year is going to be HARD.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way!
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Good luck with your students this year and let’s hope you can prep. classes faster than me!