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Creating Collaborative Learning Environments Online

It’s been a while since students and teachers have been thrown into the world of online learning. It was a rocky start but many pushed through and found ways to make the best out of a sad situation. While platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are great to connect students and teachers remotely, it isn’t quite the same experience as a real-life classroom. 

Connecting with classmates in real life allows students to collaborate to a better degree. They aren’t faced with connectivity issues or constant distractions at home and are able to collaborate to a better degree. 

However, both students and teachers alike aren’t aware of the many features apps like Zoom has to offer that does facilitate collaboration during online classes! There’s no clear answer on when most countries will be allowed to re-open schools and institutions and it’s vital that educators learn how to make the most of the situation. 

Breakout rooms for collaborating

Zoom allows teachers to create breakout rooms for students to be able to work together in groups. While this feature, you can either allow Zoom to automatically assign students into rooms or you can choose them manually. Separate rooms allow you to create a more collaborative setting for your students rather than having all one screen. As the teacher and moderator, you’re able to check in on all rooms to join discussions and provide help to students if needed. 

Quiz or trivia games

Apps such as Kahoot! allow multiple people to engage in quiz-type games. Using the app, teachers and students can participate in a more fun way of learning through games and trivia questions! It helps keep students interested in online classes and will help keep them engaged. It’s important to use different methods of teaching in these times. 

Share your screen

Zoom gives you the ability to share your screen with your students! You don’t only have to stick to video calls when teaching lessons. You can share slides with your students and use Zoom’s built-in tools as you progress through lessons. The Annotation feature will allow you to annotate parts of the slides, photos or whatever materials you may use to help your students understand topics better. If sharing the screen isn’t something you want to opt for, make use of Zoom’s Whiteboard feature instead. 

Allow students to lead the lesson

Students can facilitate you during lessons! You can assign students as discussion leaders and this may encourage more student participation. Allow each student to have their own voice and encourage them to be more active. You can even run an entire lesson with just students taking control! Let them have their discussions on topics and help each other solve problems while you moderate.

Listen to student voices

Encourage your students to give you feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Online classes aren’t the most beneficial for certain types of learners and it’s your duty as an educator to make sure that each student is learning adequately. Tell your students that it’s okay to point out when certain teaching methods aren’t working. Don’t discourage them from speaking up when they aren’t following what’s being taught either. 

Incentivize student participation 

Students may not feel motivated enough to participate during online lessons but may feel compelled when they know they can earn from doing so. Encourage students to give feedback to each other and help each other learn. 

Use external apps 

EdTech tools continue to facilitate online learning and have been the shining star for many online classes. SpiderScribe is a great tool to share digital content with your students. With SpiderScribe, teachers can create brainstorm sessions during class to encourage more active collaboration within lessons, as well as allowing you to share visual aids, any information found online and resources that may be beneficial to the lesson at hand.

Goosechase is another efficient tool when it comes to encouraging engagement and collaboration. Teachers can organize scavenger hunts for students through which they would need to find items in the real world, take photos of them and post it on the app. Students will be divided into teams and the points are noted so that teachers can keep track of the team with the most points. It’s a fun way to encourage learning and help students with their team-building skills.

Don’t be afraid to have fun

2020 has been a difficult year so far for many people. Students may feel discouraged now that they can’t interact with their friends in real life and for many, online classes may be the most social interaction they will have. Be as positive as you can and try to make lessons fun. Students are more susceptible to education when they’re motivated and when they want to learn. Zoom allows you to change your background and maybe you can start off classes by encouraging everyone to change theirs to something they would like to lighten the mood! Do what you can to make them feel comfortable with these new methods of learning and offer a friendly hand of support. We are all in this together. 

Fazreen Razeek from

Fazreen has served the digital industry for almost 10 years. He collaborates and works alongside agencies, event organizers, and suppliers to develop and execute their marketing strategies. He is extremely passionate about education technology and also writes for various local and international publications. A graduate with High Distinction from the Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, Fazreen holds a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Marketing & Management.

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