1. Communicate in real time
There are several ways Google can support remote learning. First, Google Meet for Education isn’t a secret. Between Meet and Zoom, 90% of us have found ourselves staring at face grids for the past two years. If you’re looking for a new way to engage with your class in real-time, here are some extensions that work within Google Meet.
Visual Effects for Google Meet
You and your class can add Visual Effects for Google Meet to your browsers for a fun way to run a class discussion. “If you believe that Romeo made a mature decision here, turn on your bubbles. If you believe he is still acting like a child, turn on your rainbow.” This is a great way that Google can support remote learning.
Suggestions: Give students a list of character traits, then secretly assign one to each student. They should act out that character trait, using props, and freeze their screen. The others have to guess which character trait they are. There are more ideas than there are filters to play with! The novelty will wear off soon enough, but oh, do they love novelty! Other option: React: Emoji, GIFs, and Filters for Google Meet
Set up a back channel discussion for students to use while you’re teaching a remote lesson. On YoTeach!, create a room for only your class to access. You’ll decrease interruptions and give students a voice.
Suggestion: Listen to a podcast together, letting students share reactions in real time. Break every 10 minutes, and use their comments to launch a discussion. You can even add your YoTeach link in a Workspace so it’s easy for students to find.
2. Make a quick screencast
The keyword here is “quick.” No one will watch a 45-minute video of a teacher explaining the digestive system. However, create a YouTube channel with a Digestive System playlist offering 3-minute videos on the most important ideas? Now you’re talking! Here are a few ideas for places to make screencasting less daunting to support remote learning.
Google Meet recording
The ability to record Google Meet sessions for free, even as a Google Education for Workspace user, ends in Jan. 2022. You’ll need to upgrade if you’d like to keep this service. Read more about this change if you’d like to use this aspect of Google to support remote learning.
Screencastify is an extension for Chrome that allows you to record your computer screen with audio, and if you’d like, video. There have been many upgrades since Screencastify launched, like embed questions or access analytics. The free version only allows you to create five-minute videos max, but that’s a good thing, as I mentioned above.
Suggestion: Read this article that offers ideas for using Screencastify for hybrid learning.
Loom, which has always been my favorite, is another Chrome extension that allows quick recording and video editing without having to click over to another site. Great news: The pro version is free for educators! Loom offers feedback emoji that your students can leave, plus embedded questions and editing capabilities.
Suggestion: When you post an assignment on Google Classroom, start a “Frequently Asked Questions” document as a resource. Whenever students email you with questions, post a short Loom to explain your answers. Use the screencast function to point out directions or expectations they may need to support remote learning.
3. Give fast, personalized feedback
Online feedback isn’t new to teachers, but let’s talk about ways to make it faster, easier and more helpful to learners. Here are ways to use features in Google to support remote learning.
- Did you know that Google Docs rolled out a new feature where you can insert saved documents when giving feedback to student work?
- Let’s say you’re grading an introductory paragraph to your student’s essay and you want to point them to a handout about how to write a hook. All you need to do is type ‘@,’ and you’ll get a pop-up offering you a searchable menu of your documents.
- Not only that, you can insert a “meeting notes” feature, a checklist, images, calendar appointments, the list goes on. It’s worth checking out!
Suggestion: Use Google Keep (which will appear in your Google Docs sidebar) to keep a bank of comments and handout links. As you assess your students’ work, click over to Keep to copy the comment (or start typing the document’s name) and paste it into the comment.
The Hāpara Instructional Suite makes teaching and learning in Google Workspace effective and efficient.
4. Show your learning on any website
To a student with a marker, everything looks like a piece of paper. Let’s hope that adage applies to online annotations.
Hypothesis is a Chrome extension that has been around for a few years, but it’s still one of a kind and great for teaching students critical thinking and discussion strategies. Everyone adds the extension, and you set up a class. If there is an exciting website to share, you (or they) add it to the private class and highlight or annotate. Students can respond and engage in discussion while on the page, making it easy to point out examples and highlight important words and phrases.
Suggestion: I used this extension heavily when teaching research and persuasive skills!
Edji is another option for collaborative or independent website analysis, but there is more data for teachers to understand who is engaging and how much. It’s a little easier to set up a class than the Hypothesis extension, and the features are more robust. There’s a good article about how to best use Edji.
Suggestion: Use the Print Friendly & PDF extension to remove “clutter” from a website before sharing it with your class. You’ll have to download the resulting PDF, upload it to your Google Drive and share the link that way, but it’s almost luxurious to be able to read an article that isn’t riddled with distracting links or ads.
5. Combine active thinking with information intake
Embedded learning tools are wonderful for asynchronous learning because they allow you to create engaging lessons tailored to your class. These programs offer resources and creation tools, making lessons engaging for students and teachers.
Actively Learn is a place for teachers to select from a vast library of texts and articles from all disciplines to share with their classes. Choose from preexisting Actively Learn materials or upload your own content (the Chrome extension makes this easy), then track student responses and activity using the company’s data tools. Students can interact with a text by digitally highlighting and annotating, responding to embedded questions and content, and leaving feedback and comments for peers. Of course, the free version isn’t as robust as the paid version, but the quality of content and prebuilt questions are valuable.
Suggestion: Watch a demonstration or read a tutorial to get the most out of this program.
Edpuzzle lets you paste in a video URL (or choose one from their library) and then embed questions (open-ended or multiple choice) that students must answer before proceeding. You can narrate the package as a whole or crop parts of the video out. There’s a glowing Common Sense Education review that will give you all sorts of teacher tips. This page also takes you through setup step by step.
Suggestion: Think like a student and don’t assign videos that are too long (again, five minutes is my limit), and don’t assign too many questions. I’ve created Edpuzzles with low engagement because students told me it was annoying to watch something constantly getting interrupted. Learn from my mistakes.