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5 Ways EdOptions Academy Teachers Use Video Conferencing to Make Virtual Learning Real

5 Ways EdOptions Academy Teachers Use Video Conferencing to Make Virtual Learning Real

Hear the words ‘virtual learning’, and the image that comes to mind is probably one of students working independently, quietly, in solitude, with their face buried in a screen. But the reality is that new tools are making virtual courses a more interactive, engaging, and connected experience than ever before.

Last summer, Edmentum rolled out video conferencing software, powered by Zoom, for all of our EdOptions Academy students and educators and it’s been a game-changer. EdOptions Academy teachers have always prioritized relationship building, but the ability to easily connect via video is helping deepen student-teacher connections, improve teachers’ ability to provide intervention, and allow students to more quickly and fully get their questions answered.

Here are five of the most effective ways EdOptions Academy teachers are using video conferencing to bring virtual learning to life:

Office Hours

Remember ‘office hours’ from your college days? Remember how the students who made the effort to show up for that weekly time with the instructor consistently seemed just a little more on top of things than everyone else in the class? There’s a reason for that—when students and their teachers informally connect on a regular basis it goes a long way in building a real relationships. Questions get answered, preferences get uncovered, challenges become understood, and both sides benefit. All EdOptions Academy teachers   host their own online ‘office hours’ so they have a similar opportunity to touch base with their students at the click of a link. Most teachers hold office hours once a week during a fixed time that all students are made aware of so they can build the time in to their schedules.

Live Help from Teachers

Anytime teachers and students are logged in and working on their courses, they have access video conferencing—so why not take advantage of it? Many EdOptions Academy teachers leave their video conferencing ‘rooms’ open (via a link) throughout their work day. This allows students to just ‘drop in’ as they have questions, comments, or just exciting news come up, and gives teachers the ability to invite students in for one-on-one instruction as they identify gaps or roadblocks to learning. Screen sharing and interactive whiteboard functionality makes it even easier for students and teachers to work through concepts and activities together, streamlining the process for teachers to provide timely instructional intervention and further building those critical, personal connections.

Department-Wide On-Demand Help

One of the benefits of traditional brick and mortar schools is that students have access to a whole staff of educators, not just their own teacher. With on-demand ‘Help’ video conference rooms, our EdOptions Academy teachers have come up with a creative way to replicate this online. EdOptions Academy teachers are organized into subject teams—just like teachers at traditional schools. These teams are creating team-wide conference room links that are always staffed by a teacher throughout the day (usually 8am-8pm CT). Students can drop in to these video conferences for help from a certified teacher in their subject whenever they need it, and take advantage of the chance to meet and learn from other EdOptions Academy teachers.

Live Lessons 

Ask any EdOptions Academy teacher what’s the coolest thing about video conferencing, and they’ll tell you that it’s the ability it gives them to offer live lessons for virtual students. Teachers are doing incredibly creative things with these live lessons—like facilitating group read-alouds, breaking down complex algebra concepts, and hosting writers’ workshops to name just a few. Teachers simply set up a time for their live lesson and communicate it out to their students so they can join the teacher’s video conference room at the appointed time. Not only do students get to watch and interact with their teacher in real time, but they get to interact with one another for an entirely different level of engagement. Teachers also record their live lessons for students who aren’t able to attend.

Individual Appointments

Many students who enroll in virtual courses do so because of scheduling concerns and the desire to work when they want, where they want—which often is outside of traditional ‘school’ or ‘working’ hours. For these students, there will always be a need to set up specific one-on-one time with their virtual course teachers. Video conferencing is helping enrich these individual appointments between students and teachers. Instead of relying on a phone call or email exchange, students can get dedicated, face-to-face time with instructors which can be used to focus on their specific needs. This humanizes the virtual learning experience on both sides. It makes the tricky conversations easier to move through with empathy, and it makes the positive conversations that much more fun. Individual video conferencing appointments facilitate more of those actual connections between students and teachers—and all the research shows that leads to student success.

Want to learn more about EdOptions Academy teachers go above and beyond to connect virtual learning to real-world experiences? Check out these 5 Ways Our Teachers and Instructional Methods Help Students Stay Engaged!

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