On April 1st, 2021, a group of faculty joined Sandie Morgan in a Zoom session devoted to exploring ways to engage students during online synchronous sessions! We were able to explore various ways to help grow the relationships between students during online sessions as well as participate ourselves in some rounds of community-building activities to foster relationships within our community.
We participated in, or were recommended to try, the following community building exercises:
Prayer: Opening your class session with prayer which can be the best community builder, and can bring people closer together as they collectively bring the day before God.
Polls: Using polls in your Zoom sessions build a level of comfort that helps all students feel that they are no alone in what they share.
Chat: Encouraging students to use chat during the class help professors answer relevant questions during the session rather than just waiting for questions at the end. Polls can also be a way for faculty to get an idea of where students are at in their reading of the material or understanding of the concepts covered.
Speedy Connections: Breaking your students into random groups of at least three people, using the breakout rooms feature in Zoom, helps introverts feel more willing to participate. When sessions are held to only 2-3 minutes, students have enough time to discuss the topic or question asked, but not too much to feel uncomfortable. Students are then encouraged to share what they learned about their classmate, through the chat by rating the experience, or through video introductions of one another.
Speedy Connections as an Icebreaker: Changing breakout groups every two to three minutes helps students get to know one another through questions like – Who has a last name starting with A or Z? Who speaks another language? Who runs at least five times per week? Who doesn’t like broccoli? Who lives outside Orange County?
Complete a Quiz in Breakout Groups: Using the quiz function in Canvas or uploading the quiz questions to chat, can help breakout groups review what they have learned together.
Topic Breakout Groups: Breaking students up into interest groups, according to where they live or what level of student they are, can be a great way to help students get to know one another.
Things to Remember When Using Chat
- Previous chats cannot be read by people entering the Zoom call.
- Chats from breakout rooms cannot be read in the main meeting session chat. Ask participants to copy and be ready to paste when they return to the full group.
- Workaround: Keep a Word Doc open and copy and paste as necessary.
Our group had a great time getting to know one another while learning how to best engage our students in live sessions. Thanks again to Sandie for leading this great session! It was a great way for us to get to know one another, take a break from our everyday responsibilities, and learn how to better serve our students.
For more ways to engage your students in and out of the classroom (virtual or in-person), check out these Teaching Excellence Resources on the IFD website.