Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Building in-group behaviours in geographically dispersed classes

As we have some new tutors in our school who are not familiar with teaching over a video link, I got asked by a colleague if I had "a couple of points" to share on creating remote student engagement.

That got me thinking.

And - while I have written a lot more than a couple of points - I came up with a few things which I think makes a difference. Firstly it is (a) mindset: that we are ONE class. Then what follows is (b) practicing and modelling the following behaviours:
  1. Considering all the students as being a team who are all in the in-group, regardless of location (read more about in-group behaviours here)
  2. Greeting everyone by as they come into the room, regardless of whether they are local or remote so everyone gets to know everyone else's name
  3. I set a task each week of students bringing shared stories of leadership into the classroom - two students do this per lecture - started with one remote student and one local student. As a result, the first four weeks had a remote student telling a two minute story each week (probably more like 5 minutes), but it helped to create a single in-group because they all learned something about each other's leadership ideas
  4. Treating the TV screen like my rear-vision mirror, so glancing up every three seconds or so to cue in on what is going on, AND treating the screen like an extra person when discussion is happening, so they another set of eyes I connect with when looking around the room
  5. When doing cases, often deliberately asking the remote group first for their ideas/questions/opinions before everyone else reports back (probably 2/3rds of the time)
  6. Reminding the local students to be quiet so the remote students can speak (usually by simply holding up my hand, palm out, and saying "hang on everyone, be quiet..." with an " the [campus] guys can hear", or " we can hear [x] speaking". They atune to the hand cue pretty quickly)
  7. Apologising when I don't hear a remote student asking a question, and again using the hand cue and asking the local students "hang on...".

I find the local students are very respectful of the remote students.

In addition, as I usually go to our other campus to do a lecture back to my local students close to the end of the semester. Each year some of the local students are keen to come on the road trip, because we have a sense of team in the room, and they want to meet the students in person.


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