Online teaching strategies for flipped and blended learning approaches – webinar round-up

Our webinar with Tom Garside, founder of Language Point Teacher Education, discusses online teaching strategies as we move into what may include a more blended learning approach for many.

Read the round-up of this live webinar, which features additional answers to questions asked during the event, along with feedback and thoughts from members who attended the event.  

Your say 

Tom Garside Poll 1

Tom Garside Poll 2

  • We deliver education in prison settings, so the change from classroom to in-cell learning has been challenging because of a lack on ICT and security. Staff have had to adapt significantly.
  • Whiteboard can be used on Teams, and the Forms app is also useful on Teams.
  • We have found that our learners have been exceptionally engaged with online learning. Some courses are better managed in person.
  • We have struggled with a lack of engagement and learners not turning up for class.
  • Often there is too much of the teacher talking and a lack of participation.
  • Main issues are the ability of the students to use the technology. Either because lack of resources or lack of IT skills.
  • If students have the resources they are more likely to engage.
  • We've been left to find out own way through the transition and I'm not finding it helpful to my new to ESOL learners.
  • I've observed online lessons. A common pitfall is not assessing learners' responses and being responsive.
  • A lot of learners are struggling with lack of internet-enabled equipment.
  • I am finding that participation is fine, but lessons feel less interactive and too teacher-led.
  • The needs analysis tasks in the flipped classroom will make planning easier as teacher can target more accurately.
  • A lot of this depends on the subject as with maths you first need to battle the mindset before you start to teach it.
  • I use Whatsapp and Zoom with my learners.
  • This requires a great deal of IT experience, I teach adults who often have had very little previous qualifications and/or long time since formal education and have a lot of fear.
  • Many are low level learners and they are also suffering with anxiety and off work/out of work.
  • There is a risk that learners can be overwhelmed with the net leading to cognitive overload; so teachers need to reflect on the needs of their learners and provide teaching and learning as needed and that may be a more direct sharing of content as well as group activity - with clear roles and responsibilities.
  • Instead of WhatsApp we use Google Hangouts, which is accessed by college email addresses rather than personal phone numbers.
  • Teams provides student emails through which they can communicate with each other so no need for personal emails in teams. I have recently come across a platform called 2utoring that addresses some of the issues you raised. Learners cannot lurk or shirk because they are on video and the teacher can tour while they are having discussions. Also to pretty much gives you what you would normally have in class, access to a whiteboard, shared documents that can be edited by the group. 
  • You can use chat and forums on your learning platform such as Moodle pr LearningPool.
  • I used video combined with questions as homework.
  • Learners in breakout rooms could be working on a collaborative slides presentation that they have to present to the whole group when they are done.
  • Mine seemed motivated by quizzes, for example remote kahoots. I felt more confident that they'd engaged with content because I could see it in the quiz results.
  • I have recently come across a platform called 2utoring that addresses some of the issues you raised. Learners cannot lurk or shirk because they are on video and the teacher can tour while they are having discussions. Also it pretty much gives you what you would normally have in class, access to a whiteboard, shared documents that can be edited by the group.
  • Socrative is a good resource.
  • Learners can work on a single shared Google docs. Teacher can create separate tables for each group. Each group can share their response in the designated box.
  • PearlTrees is also a content capture site that the student can arrange research information in a very individualistic way.

Your questions answered 

Below are some questions which weren’t covered during the live webinar or have been answered in more details. Please watch the on-demand version to hear the answers to additional questions asked during the live Q&A session.  

  • I flip my class - preparing video content with instruction and questions, but some learners come to class not having completed the preparation.  What do you recommend when this happens? 

"In my opinion, the best way to motivate a student to perform the pre-class activity is to make it a ‘lose-out’ situation for them, making it more difficult for them to contribute and therefore making it awkward for them if they shirk their work. This can be done in several ways: 

  • Assigning group tasks with group responsibility, so if one member of the group doesn’t pull their weight, the rest of the group pull them up, or they get exposed for it later (peer discipline is often a more direct motivator than teacher discipline) 

  • Assigning a clear presentation task for students to proactively show what they have done at the beginning of the live session – again if this is in groups, it will soon get uncomfortable for the student who shirks. 

  • Starting the live session with a quiz, with questions asked directly to individuals. The ones who haven’t done the work will feel like they are on the spot... 

  • If anyone is noticeably lacking in responses or participation, speak to them at the end of the class and ask ‘how did you feel during that quiz today?’, and ‘why do you think that was?’. Tell them that they will be teamed up with other students next time, and if they don’t do the prep work, they might have problems. 

"However you deal with engagement and participation in the flipped classroom, it is essential that learners understand their responsibilities clearly, and that you set definite expectations about what kinds of work are entailed in flipped work (see below)."

  • What is a webquest and how is it different from research? 

"A webquest is a type of focused research which requires learners to use specific sites or resources to find a series of items to use in a following class. The original framework for a webquest (as developed through webquest.org and questgarden.com, includes the stages: 

  • introduction
  • task
  • process
  • resources
  • evaluation/guidance
  • conclusion.

"The purpose fo the quest is for learners to use specified resources to find, evaluate and apply online content to achieve a task-based goal. This could be a presentation, project, poster, slideshow, podcast or webinar which demonstrates the ressults of the quest, and which can be evaluated by the teacher. 

"Webquests are a great development in flipped/blended and inquiry-based education, and can develop a range of transferable and collaborative skills."

  • What do you think are the key things to cover in the first face-to-face session to set up flipped learning with a class? 

"The flipped model needs to be introduced to learners early on to set realistic expectations about the levels of autonomy that are expected of them when you ask them to prepare for your live sessions. Spend half an hour to an hour early in a course doing some learner training, and having learners go through some awareness tasks about what flipped learning is, the modes and outcomes that you are aiming at, and the types of task and resources they will be engaging with in your future classes. You can even create a class contract which learners sign, outlining some do’s and don’ts (and consequences) of failing to participate in independent work. 

"It is worth noting that a common get-out for shirkers in pre-class work is simply to not turn up for the lesson, thereby absenting themselves from the consequences of their lack of work. Make it clear that attendance to all follow-up live classes is compulsory and that continuous assessment is being carried out based on evaluation of presented work from flipped lessons." 

  • How do I see that webinar you just mentioned re assessment as this is one of the teaching standards I'm focusing on? 

"There is a series of webinars from Trinity College London called ‘Transformative Teachers’, which features some good assessment-focused content. The British Council also creates a lot of good content on the subject."

  • What is the best way to share success criteria online? 

"Success criteria, or target outcomes, are incredibly important for both yourself and your learners to know where you are heading as you work through the course. On online courses that I deliver, I include an open-access online space (either in the system they use to study, or in googledocs / padlet so that students (and their parents / guardians) can see what is required of them. 

"Depending on the age/maturity of your learners, it is helpful to relate each lesson to these outcomes, to show the purpose of what you are teaching. This can be done on a title slide of a PPT, or in a preparatory note to learners that they can see when they join the class (on a chat function / in an attachment). Working to criteria is really helpful to ensure that everyone knows why they are doing what they are doing, and can be used as proof of what has been covered in a course to show to stakeholders such as parents / Heads of Department if they need to know what has been covered."

  • Do you think that this new way of learning for the new cohort of students will take time to embed in?

"Short answer: Yes! Just as we have been experiencing teething problems and a huge learning curve to meet this new paradigm, so are our learners. As I mention above, an amount of learner training is required to induct learners into the new ways of doing things, which will mean time spent early on in a course to make sure everyone knows what is expected of them. The clearer your idea about what this means, the better you can impart this to your students." 

  • Can you join a Zoom break out group without the learners noticing?

"I spoke to a teacher I am working iwth on a development course who had this advice: 'They will always see you're there in a zoom breakout room (if they're looking) but this is what I do: If I’m just monitoring to make sure leaners are on task or checking to see if they need any help, I go into the room unmuted and put my video on. If I want to listen to their language for error correction and feedback I go in muted and turn video off – they can see I’m there but often don’t notice with my video off (and because they’re involved in their task). If they notice me, they do often stop what they’re doing, so I just leave the room. I tell them beforehand I will be popping in and out and to ignore me – they are getting used to this slowly. In a three-hour lesson with over 30 students this can be pretty intense, and so I still go in and out of the rooms a lot, but perhaps less so than when I first started. I will often get them to record productive speaking tasks and send me the audio – I then give audio feedback or make a screencast to address of common errors'."

  • I teach a very practical topic, so apart from making a film and posting on you tube or sharing during a live session, how else can practical topics be covered? 

"I guess this question refers to some kind of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Depending on the level of the students, I like to use as much authentic material as possible. Most practical topics are covered not just on Youtube, but also on special interest sites and facebook groups, where a lot of useful content is shared around, and you can find articles going into whatever area you are teaching. 

"One way of adapting content to fit the online mode is to break down the topic into vocabulary and grammar which is commonly used when we discuss that topic or do that activity, and teach sets of these language items by theme within that topic.  

"Another way of working within a practical focus is to consider the types of thinking that we do when we perform that action or take part in that activity – do we plan, reflect, solve problems, deduce information, evaluate our performance...? Then, creating games or activities which encourage those types of cognitive activity within the theme of the topic you are teaching, using English all the way through, helps learners to perform in that practical area.  

"Final demonstration of learners’ development can be achieved through online roleplay, presentation or even a show-and-tell of something that they have created based on the processes you used in your classes (for more creative themes)."

Webinar FAQs

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