It has been heartening to see so many people, students and staff alike, gain confidence in their use of remote learning technology. Although the circumstances have been far from ideal, many people have made huge strides forward in how they engage with the tools available.
With that in mind, this blog post will focus on five Virtual Classroom tips that you may find useful. There are plenty of other handy tricks out there, too. Remember, we have support guides and FAQs available via https://libguides.uos.ac.uk/brightspace, and are always on hand to answer your questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The help pages for Virtual Classroom are also worth a look.
So, in no particular order, here are five Virtual Classroom tips and tricks:
If you haven’t used Virtual Classroom before, you might want to create a ‘meeting’ so that you can play around with the features. You can do this by following our steps for setting up a Virtual Classroom session, but choosing not to invite the whole class. Alternatively, you can request a sandbox module and set up the meeting in there.
This also gives you a chance to check that your browser and device, including your microphone and webcam, are working ok. If they’re not working, there are some steps that you can take.
Virtual Classroom can’t send out an email invitation to your students to tell them that a session has been scheduled. Unless they check the Virtual Classroom area, they will only know if you tell them. However, using Brightspace’s ability to release things at specified dates and times in the future, you could set up an announcement as a prompt fifteen minutes before the session, for example.
You might even want to include links to our guides for joining the session or troubleshooting to pre-empt any questions of a technical nature.
When you’re teaching face to face, you would naturally set out your expectations of how you want students to contribute to the session. A Virtual Classroom session will have its own etiquette. Should students use the chat at any point if they have questions? Should they only do that at certain points? Are they able to use their microphones?
These are things that you will need to consider beforehand and make clear to students at the start of the session.
You are able to pass control of the slides to someone else who is in the Virtual Classroom session. Click the person icon in the top left. Click their name. Select ‘Make presenter’. The person who set up the session is still the ‘moderator’ and has overall control, but making someone else the presenter can be useful if students need to present to the group.
If you’re the moderator, you can even make another lecturer a moderator, and leave the session if you’ve finished your bit. It's also possible for guest lecturers to present.
Within the session, you can see who is currently taking part by clicking the user icon in the top left, and viewing the names. However, if you set the session up to record, you can also see a summary of attendance after the session. On the main page for Virtual Classroom in your module (where the sessions are listed), click the three dots under ‘actions’ and choose ‘attendance’.