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Getting to know your platform

Watch teachers talk about platforms, then label parts of a platform.
There’s lots of platforms, things like Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, These are quite simple. Often there’s a free version. But basically it’s video conferencing. You can see them and they can see you. I’ve used a number of different platforms for online classes. One of them was Blackboard which is a platform which has the traditional elements of a classroom. So it has a whiteboard that you can use, and you can put up PowerPoint slides. It has functions such as students can raise their hand. It has a chat box and an audio feed and a video feed. So all of the elements of your classroom are there.
As well, I’ve also used some really low-tech things for online teaching such as Skype or Google Hangouts which don’t offer as much flexibility for the teacher. But if you want everyone collected in the same space, then that’s kind of the basics of what you’ll get. So the platform that I’ve been working with has two camera screens so you can see yourself and also the student. And then on the main pair– that’s on the left part of the screen– the main part is going to be actual slides. And I’m the only one who has control of when we change slides. The student can’t change that. I also can control if the student is allowed to write on the screen or not.
It’s just a simple turn on, turn off switch. I can also type directly on the screen, or we have a little chat bar on the side. You might find that you’ve got text chat which is quite useful because you can type answers or you can ask questions, and then you can review that text chat later. The chat bar I use usually a little bit more with older students. So if they can’t quite think of a vocabulary word, I might start typing that one letter at a time and see if they can guess it.
And once they have said it, then I’ll type out the whole word because that part actually gets saved at the end of the lesson with the feedback. And so their parents or if they want to look at it themselves again, they can see what words were more challenging for them then too. Some platforms will have a way you can record vocabulary where you can share materials and slides. I use the screen-share function if I’m teaching a point. I like to open a PowerPoint sometimes and I can use that. Or if there’s been a reading, I can refer to the text. I can share my screen so the line is displayed exactly what I’m referring to.
So a breakout room works in the same way as you would set up students in pairs or in small groups in the face-to-face classroom. As a teacher, you control the students and put them in another space in the online classroom so they can accomplish their task or work together in private away from the other students. Especially if they’re teaching very young children, they might have things like filters, things that you can add to your faces to make it more enjoyable or engaging for the students. You might have systems where you can add badges or give praise, things like that. There’s also an option to give stars during a class. And so you can encourage your students.
I use it both when they’re doing well or maybe even not so well to say, hey, I know that you’re trying. Here you go. Let’s keep it going. And they really, really– kids get really excited about it. It’s really cute. They do little dances and everything.
In the previous step, one of the resources mentioned as essential for online teaching was an online teaching platform. In this video, our teachers talk about some of the different types of platforms you can use and some of the features the different platforms have.

Task 1

Watch the video and answer these questions:
1) What different platforms do they mention?
2) What different features/functions do they mention?
Check your answers

Task 2

Now let’s see if you can identify some of these features/functions on this screenshot of a platform for delivering live lessons. A mock up of an online platform with a number of different functions labelled 1-10 Look at the screenshot of an online platform and match the words below to the numbers (1–10) on the platform.
Chat boxInteractive whiteboard
Video of teacherVideo of learners
Breakout rooms where students can work privately in pairs/groupsList of students in the room
PointerHands up icon
Audio control iconVideo control icon
Check your answers

Task 3

Go to this Quizlet to match some activities with these platform features. To match the activities in Quizlet, drag and drop the matching texts onto each other. To navigate back to the course please use the back button in your browser.
A: Hands up iconB: Audio iconC: Breakout rooms 
D: Interactive whiteboardE: Chat boxF: PointerG: Share screen feature

Reflect and share

Which platform feature(s) do you think you would exploit the most? How?
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Teaching English Online

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