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Representation of time: many stopwatches jumbled together

Getting the timings right

A good approach for synchronous remote lessons is to plan to cover only half of what you would normally cover in the same amount of time face-to-face.

The time allocated for any student tasks needs to take into account the devices that your students will be using and the detail required of any outputs. At any point where student contributions are invited, you will need to allow for time to students to process the task or question being set, consider a response and share that response back. In live sessions, this time appears to stretch and it can feel awkward to pause, mute your own microphone, and allow students to type without interruption.

  • Content delivery: assume it will take twice as long to deliver as in face-to-face, particularly if you need to demonstrate software, switch between slides and web browser, etc. You will also need to monitor text chat, pausing between slides and giving students the opportunity to make notes/comments in text chat.
  • Discussion prompts: for text contributions, you will need to allow at least 2 mins time to think and for students to type. You should be silent, to allow thinking. For summarising discussions and inviting students contributions allow 3-5 mins to pick one or two discussion points. It will take longer, students may ramble and the non-verbal cues are not there to indicate time to move onto next point.
  • Interactive (polls): in many synchronous platforms there are poll and quiz tools. These are typically quick, but need up to a minute for students to read the question, respond and the response to be presented back by the teacher. Anything outside of the platform will need more time for students to navigate to it, complete the task, and return to the synchronous session.

Even with small groups using microphones to communicate with each other, conversations will not flow easily and you will need to ‘chair’ the lesson to ensure everyone is involved.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching for Home Learning: Secondary Science

National STEM Learning Centre