The Missouri Reader WINTER ISSUE Vol. 44, Issue 1 - Page 25

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footage, teachers find this format to be a one-stop-shop for a friendly online classroom. Though some teachers view this tool as one more thing to do, parents view this tool as a pleasant addition to the virtual classroom (Goulding, 2008). The stakeholders can view the community of learners’ goals and objects, as well as classroom guidelines and expectations to stimulate a sense of belonging – a sense of community.

Online Learners Need a Structure That Promote a Sense of Community

Online learners need a structure that promotes a sense of a virtual community to stay engaged and focused on the course assignments as part of a community. A teacher’s presence in building a positive online learning community is “one of the most important aspects of online teaching” (Richardson, J.C., Besser, E. et al, 2016, p. 6). As teachers consider the structure that promotes a sense of community, some specific recommendations are included here to support the instructional plan to promote positive learning communities.

An appropriate forum option to consider in lieu of the traditional discussion board might be the Edmodo site (https://www.edmodo.sg/). As the largest complaint of online learning is the lack of student communication, this educational site provides an engaging and exciting connection between classroom learning and a lively social network (Arnall, 2020). Unfortunately, Edmodo contains intrusive advertisements to the right of the newsfeed but if one can look past this, educators will find this platform promotes positive communication of the course content and ideas. It is easy for the instructor and student to use, read, and respond.

Scheduling collaborative meetings with parents or small groups is easy to manage using the Zoom link (https://zoom.us/education). This option provides an applicable setting to individualized time with virtual audience participants. Studies reveal, (Nguyen, 2015) online student learning achievements are higher when a blended component is part of the online learning process (p. 311). When teachers include a face-to-face element, such as zoom, students participate in a virtual platform structure to become more engaged in the learning sessions. The program is user friendly for both the host and the participants. Uniquely, it provides a level of ease to use advanced technology even if the participants are not necessarily tech savvy. Participants have options to record with Zoom’s automated transcripts, record, share, and play videos without having to upload full content. Additionally, breakout rooms offer a valuable resource for students to interact as they would in a traditional school setting. Unfortunately, with the barrage of zoom usage during the past year, many students and teachers are reporting “Zoom fatigue” (Fosslien & Duffy, 2020). However considered essential, Zoom is a vital tool of the virtual learning classroom setting.

This attention to creating a solid virtual community of learners encourages students and their support system to communicate and participate in the course activities. When there is interactivity between students, teachers, and course content, research concludes this focus has a positive impact on student learning outcomes (Saqr, M. Fors, U. et al, 2018).

Online Learners Need a Structure That Promotes Student Engagement

Online learners need a structure that promotes student engagement. To encourage and promote a positive virtual experience, teachers need opportunities to enhance and customize their digital instruction. Loeb (2020) states, “online courses need a strong curriculum and strong pedagogical practices. Teachers need to understand what students know and what they don’t know, as well as how to help them learn new material” (p. 17). As teachers consider the needs of their students to promote virtual engagement, some specific recommendations are included here to support the instructional plan.

Edpuzzle (https://edpuzzle.com/) is one appropriate option to address that focus. This site allows teachers to create an environment that is similar to a traditional classroom setting. As students learn with slides and appropriate video selections, the teacher interjects periodically using leveled questioning. As a teacher would normally question students during instruction, this tool allows teachers to receive feedback from every student as slides and questions cannot be skipped. In this way, the teacher can provide instruction uniquely appropriate for differentiation of instruction. Though, ultimately, nothing can replace the interactions in a classroom, Edpuzzle strives to bridge the gap between the teacher and the pupil. Providing opportunities for students’ communication, goal setting, and troubleshooting skills to come to the forefront of the virtual experience will motivate their engagement in the learning process.

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students learn with slides and appropriate video selections, the teacher interjects periodically using leveled questioning. As a teacher would normally question students during instruction, this tool allows teachers to receive feedback from every student as slides and questions cannot be skipped. In this way, the teacher can provide instruction uniquely appropriate for differentiation of instruction. Though, ultimately, nothing can replace the interactions in a classroom, Edpuzzle strives to bridge the gap between the teacher and the pupil. Providing opportunities for students’ communication, goal setting, and troubleshooting skills to come to the forefront of the virtual experience will motivate their engagement in the learning process.

Using a Quick Response (QR) Code encourages students to engage in the learning while digitally problem solving through the content. The QR image (such as https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=app.qrcode&hl=en_US ) includes text and/or links to the viewer. Teachers offer QR Codes online as a way to predetermine appropriate access for various content areas. Students can access activities such as scavenger hunts, webquests, and research safely and independently by simply opening their cameras. Though the content provided on a QR Code can easily be accessed through a simple link, the ability to implement a tech-savvy QR Code is engaging to students. They love to use the features on their computers and phones. This provides an engaging classroom, as QR Codes are one more tool in the teacher’s tool belt while providing information to the individual student or class as a whole unit.

When documentation of students’ understanding of course content and learning goals are required, an Interactive Notebook (https://slidesmania.com/digital-notebooks-for-google-slides-or-powerpoint/) might be an appropriate method of virtual formative assessment. This platform allows teachers to assess students’ success as they individually engage, reflect, and take ownership for their learning. Many formats and applications can be used for Interactive Notebooks. Many are available for purchase but any teacher, with a little research, can figure out how to build their own notebook. It is important to consider, it might take extensive training to implement interactive notebooks effectively in a virtual classroom (Pennington, 2016). However, the result can be a solid compilation of information, research, and discussion that any virtual classroom would find helpful.

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