The Ten Things Instructors
Want to Do in a Course

(and How BigBlueButton Fulfills Some of Those Wishes)

Teaching, for many, is a matter of love and passion. For some teachers, the calling is there from an early age. Others discover later in life how much they enjoy helping others learn. It can be wonderful to be in front of a class where everything goes exactly as you imagined. Often, teaching a class — physical or online –  provides challenges that require a bit of creativity to solve..

We asked teachers in Canada what they would like to do in a course, how it translates to their online teaching, and what are some of their wishes. Some of them are already BigBlueButton users.  We hope their experiences spark some creativity in your teaching.

1: Always Keeping the Children’s Attention

This wish is at the top of almost all teachers’ lists. No wonder! Nobody likes to stand in front of a classroom (or in front of a computer) where the students are constantly yawning and counting down the minutes until the lesson is over. There are some tried-and-true recipes for keeping attention:

  • Start by telling your students what the purpose of your lesson is and what they will know or be able to do by the end of the course.
  • Provide a hook, something that your students will find interesting and that you know they will be curious about. Later in this article, you’ll find an excellent example of how to create such a hook.
  • Serve your explanations in manageable portions, usually no more than 5 minutes. Small children can concentrate for a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes. Teenagers should stay attentive for approximately 25 minutes, but there are exceptions, as with any rule.
  • Regularly give your students small tasks to engage them in learning the content.
  • Keep up the pace. If you go too slowly, will too. Do not expect them to  speed up on your behalf.

2: An Immersive Experience

This one actually ties in with the desire to hold the students’ attention because you can create that hook in your online course. Don’t limit your geography or history lesson to a dull enumeration of a country’s characteristics and people. Prepare a Smart Slides show with predefined polling questions. Take your students by the hand, so to speak, as you guide them, for example, to Indonesia. Introduce them to the people living there, what they do, how they work, eat, sleep, and so on. 

  1. Show them clips of a theatre performance with Wajang puppets while gamelan music is playing. Have them watch the art of batik that is used to adorn clothing with intriguing motifs. Don’t just tell them there are orangutans, but take them on a virtual voyage of discovery. Finally, consider how exciting it is to sail along the Indonesian islets and see the volcanoes spewing ash and fire.

3: An Interactive Experience

You can always pause your slideshow to play URLs from YouTube, Vimeo or enter Canvas Studio. Take advantage of that break to ask questions that your students can fill out through a poll. Allow them to respond in chat or by writing something on the multi-user whiteboard. Not only does this strengthen  the immersive experience, but the children are also interacting.

4: Staying Focused All Day Long

Students can sometimes have a hard time concentrating, but so can you. You know full well the days when you would rather stay in bed in the morning. In this case, BigBlueButton can be an advantage for you. No, we’re not referring to the classic joke of the pyjama pants dress code. We do mean that if you’re not feeling well, it’s pleasant that you don’t have to commute from your home to school.When school is over, you don’t have to go through the evening rush hour, because you are already at home. You can truly relax now and slip into those pyjama pants.

5: Being Able to Read Thoughts and 6: to Keep a Straight Face

You know it will happen, but you can never anticipate when it will strike, a student or a group of students under a giggle attack. How you’d love to know what’s so funny. But when you ask the question, their answer is hardly ever funny. That’s usually also the moment giggling subsides. While you have the mute function to silence attendees, we advise you to not do so in a case like this one. Simply let the little episode pass.

Some teachers would like to have muscles of steel. If they make a mistake or if a student acts a bit clumsy, this can result in joint hilarity. While you should continue the lesson with a straight face, it is not always easy. 

7: Dividing the Class into Groups

Teachers tell us that they love dividing their students into smaller teams of two, three, four or more so that they can work together. Within each of these breakout rooms, teachers can dive in and out of them to support students with any additional questions they might have. Remarkably, students themselves find this very enjoyable too. Psychologists are likely to say that in a group, participants feel safer to make suggestions and feel invited to participate actively. They also get to know the other students better. If another plenary situation follows the group work, they also express themselves more easily. Your BigBlueButton web conferencing software provides the breakout room function for such occasions. 

8: A Fun Pop Quiz Experience and 8: Show More Clearly That You Care

In general, announcing a pop quiz will make your students sigh and frown. Incorporate a fun factor in them to make them more palatable. Keep the questions varied and use pictures and sound clips to help find the answer. Keep your finger on the emoji button for quick, immediate rewards and have a certificate ready for the final winner, or – if you divided the players into teams in break out rooms – the victorious team. Also, consider creating a bulletin board to display in their physical classroom or a Cloud location. With it, you recognize the students’ efforts and encourage them to do better next time.

9: Chalk that Never Breaks

The blackboard has been a teacher’s trustworthy companion for a few centuries. But don’t you hate it when a fresh piece of chalk breaks while you’re writing? It’s even worse if your nail happens to slip over the surface. For that, we at BigBlueButton have the ideal solution. Our whiteboard does not need any chalk at all. 

10: Record and Playback the Class

It can sometimes happen that you stand in front of your class and give your course with enthusiasm. Appropriate examples immediately come to mind. The children are ultra-attentive, asking pointed questions and are really “in the flow”. Such relished moments, you can record any segments of your class using the Start/Stop Record button. With some minor editing, these online classroom sessions can serve as webinars.