On January 29th, 2021 we gathered on Twitter through the hashtag #teslONchat to discuss engagement strategies to utilize in our virtual classes. The guest moderator of the evening was Jen Artan (@JenArtan). Jen is an experienced Continuing Education Instructor with the Thames Valley District School Board, Instructor with IWC Hamilton, and Materials Developer with LearnIT2Teach. A certified Google Educator (Level 2), TESL Ontario Webinar Presenter, TESL London Social Media Chair, and a recent Masters of Education graduate from the Ontario Technical University, she likes to keep current on educational technology for adult learners.
These questions guided our 1-hour long chat:
- In the context of language learning (face to face or virtual) what does engagement look like to you?
- What strategies do you use to engage your learners in the course content that is presented asynchronously?
- Now that learners are getting familiar with virtual classrooms, are you satisfied with what your current platform offers? If not what would your ideal online platform offer that your current one doesn’t?
- What are you looking forward to the most about going back to face-to-face teaching? how will you engage and connect your learner’s when you’re juggling two delivery systems (online and F2F)
- What online games have you used to engage your virtual classrooms? What objectives did you have in mind when you selected these games?
Read the tweets of January 29, 2021
Jen’s Reflection after the chat:
Engagement in a virtual environment presents unique challenges for our Adult Newcomer audience, and for the instructors. Our experience has largely been in a face-to-face classroom, and over the years we have developed the knowledge, skills and abilities to connect learners to the language content, to each other, and to the teacher. This isn’t as easily converted to a virtual context, as was discussed in the Twitter chat. What was evident, however, is how resilient both the learners and the LINC teachers are. We have found new ways to connect our learners and to learn alongside them in this online experiment. We’ve learned that it’s not about the technology tools, although a reliable tool is a rare gem, but rather how we provide opportunity to reach our learners through our virtual platforms. Learners have demonstrated that they can be a resource and support for each other and that they are developing an impressive array of soft skills that will serve them well in the future. Twitter respondents offered their stories and examples of tried and true tools that they use that helps to engage their learners. A resounding message is that educators also need support and encouragement from each other, and their leaders.
In the end, the Twitter chat demonstrated that we are, indeed, in this together. While some may champion Google apps, others look elsewhere for their technology needs. The real question becomes, how do we take the lessons we’ve learned in the past year back to our workplaces when we are fully F2F again?
Resources on Engagement:
- 8 Strategies to Improve Participation in Online Classrooms
- 25 Remote Tips to Engagement
- Tips for Engaging Students in Virtual Classrooms (more geared towards adult learners)
- Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction
- Community of Inquiry
#teslONchat will be hosted on our Twitter page once a month. If you’re interested in sharing your passion or expertise in a specific topic please reach out to us on Twitter – @TESLOntario.
This summary post was written by Jen Artan and Vanessa Nino.
Vanessa is the manager of TESL Ontario’s Twitter. Find Vanessa tweeting over @vnino23