Beyond the text tool in Zoom

Last week I gave myself 2 challenges for my teaching in Zoom. I accomplished one goal, but not the other. The goal I didn’t accomplish was having a large image for students to write into. One idea I had was a giant key that would stand for “key takeaways” from the day’s class. I just couldn’t find an image I liked, and I also ran out of time to get there. So I’ll try again this coming week.

I was successful with having students use the stamp function. The class was research and design; the topic was social significance and statement of the problem. After presenting what these 2 constructs were, I had the students refer to an article and evaluate the article for how well the authors addressed the key elements we had just discussed. I try to vary this – on example 1, I just asked 2 students to look at the article and give their thoughts. On example 2, to draw everybody in, I asked the whole class to make their mark. While I could’ve asked about individual ratings, it seemed like we were all around the same place, so I just noted that no-one said it was out of this world, and asked the class to comment what the authors could’ve done to push it closer to that ideal.

In a different class, we combined the table idea (which is typically my go-to) with the stamp feature on zoom. This is for an intro class on Health Service Psychology, so the students are learning about values of psychology. When in face-to-face class, I usually have this as a handout and have them self-evaluate. I really liked having this group activity via Zoom (So the challenge will be how to keep this when we do go back F2F). As you can see, students stamped how they felt about each one.

If you haven’t discovered this yet, when you finish your annotating activity, if you don’t erase it, it will stay there even when you move to the next slide, unless you erase it. Sometimes I forget and have to take a moment to erase it. For this activity, though, it was a bonus. I started by duplicating 2 slides in Powerpoint – one which was the simple table above for them to annotate, and the next which I had created beforehand that showed how the psychologists in the study rated. The “ratings” were purple stars. By keeping their ratings, we got to see in an instant how our group as a whole compared. This turned into a conversation about the comparison. As an aside, I was disappointed about the ratings on the value of career-related issues, but in the discussion, many explained that they were thinking about day-to-day services they would be providing, and to whom (many were interested in working with kids, or trauma) – so that made that rating a bit more acceptable. 🙂

So, two more Zoom teaching days in the bag. What’s on for next week? I’ll probably still seek to use the idea of an image to have them build on. Maybe I’ll play with the whiteboard function, although I also like the idea of being creative with the Zoom backgrounds. Just came across this helpful site with some innovative ideas that I’ll be considering. Good to have options!

Engaging students with Zoom through the annotate feature

One way I’ve found to increase student engagement with Zoom is through the use of the annotate feature. You need to “enable all users” to use the annotate button, and probably need to coach them on how to find and use it. On finding it, I usually have another student coach the rest because their platform looks different than the instructor platform. The main annotation function I have used so far has been the text button. The main issue they had was learning how to move their text to fit in a table cell (use the select key) and how to make the font size smaller (double click in the text box, highlight text, click on format and in the bottom corner on the number (which is font size) to adjust. You could also create a value or competency line and ask them to place a mark on that line as to where they fall. But for today, let’s look at how the annotate feature can be used.

Individual Sharing. In my first class focused on research, I had students identify their top three research interests as a quick way for me to see (and then referent back to, and incorporate) their research interests at once, and to also find connections among each other.

Partner Reports. In the image below, I followed up a partnering activity in breakout rooms with having them add a brief summary text to a blank table that I had as a Powerpoint slide. Once they completed it, I had the pairs share the key points, and observations about similarities/differences. The conversation was straightforward at first, but deepened as we went.

Critiquing. Provide something for students to look at and invite their brief evaluation on it. On the slide below, I had a pre-created table with their names on it and asked them to evaluate the abstract. To make the best us of time, I didn’t ask all of them to share, but just those who said CBB or no.

Combo Deal. In this slide, I asked students to input a title of an article they were interested in using, and had pre-assigned students to give a grade to another person’s title of that article. Then I went through and made general observations on the “A” ones, and asked for the reasons for the other ratings.

Course Takeaways. In a course I co-taught this summer (career development for art therapy majors), my colleague created this toolbox for the last day of class, asking students to type in one new “tool” they were adding to their toolbox as a result of the class. (Clearly, they hadn’t mastered the select tool to move text yet). Of course, this doesn’t need to be limited to the last day of class, but could be used throughout the semester to allow student application of the material covered. Images also provide a different “feel” than a table.

Conclusion. One of my goals for teaching is that every student is actively engaged during my online class. It’s hard when you can’t see all of them at one time, and even if you could, it’s not practical to have every person comment on every question you raise. Inviting them to add their thoughts to slides or whiteboards is one way to make sure everyone’s “voice” is “heard,” or at least seen.

My personal challenge for next week is to try to use at least one image background per class instead of overusing my trusty go-to of the table. In addition, I want to try having students use something different than the text button, such as placing a mark on a value line.

How have you used the annotate feature in zoom? What challenges have you found, and how have you addressed them? Hit us up in the comments!

Zoom into Breakout Rooms

Welcome to the world of zooming! By now, many of us have become quite familiar with the Zoom platform as the “new normal” for what had been face-to-face meetings and classes. Through these experiences, you may have had more of those “this could’ve/should’ve been handled in an email” meetings, or had classes with a range of engagement.

Over the past 2 1/2 semesters, with 6 classes during that time via Zoom, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, with class size ranging from 4 to 20, a key challenge that has come up across these classes is how to keep students engaged during the class time which can range from 1 to 4 or more hours at a time. Today we will share some teaching ideas for breakout rooms:

Brilliant Breakout Rooms: Breakout rooms (ideally) offer the possibility for partner or small group work and a chance for everyone’s voice to be heard and increasing engagement. Ideally. In reality, there is little to no control as to what happens in the breakout room. An instructor I was supervising reported yesterday that she had 7 breakout rooms, and as she jumped from room to room, almost all participants had their videos and the mics off. Prior to inviting them to the rooms, she had a slide that outline the instructions, and she told them to take a picture of their slide so they would remember the task. She also alerted them that she would be joining them in the rooms. About a minute in, she sent a reminder to all groups as to what they should be doing. Then she sent a message that she would shortly be joining. All of these are great ideas for increasing engagement, but repeatedly, the students were not engaging. Each time she entered a room, she had to repeat the instructions. Not quite the outcome she was hoping to have. What else could she do?

  • Provide material beforehand. If lengthy (paragraph or more) material is needed, such as a paragraph describing a case study or scenario, provide that information prior to class AND in class. For those who did not access/read the material beforehand, you can (a) remind them to do so at the beginning of class and during a break, (b) put a link to the needed material in the chat box, (c) provide the material on either a slide or document during the chat and suggest they take a picture or screenshot of it.
  • Simplify instructions. The more complicated or lengthy the instructions, the less likely the group will be able to accomplish the task. Follow the KISS acronym (keep it simple/short sweety). In a recent class, I had very, very brief scenarios for 3 groups, and decided to keep the instructions the same across groups.

  • Set a time limit. Determining how long to allow for breakout room activity can be challenging. The maximum amount of time that I’ve found helpful is ten minutes. 
  • Specify expectations for when they return. Another way to increase the likelihood participants will stay on task during breakout rooms is to let them know how what they will be doing in breakout rooms will be used when they get back. Saying “we’ll discuss what you’ve come up with” is too vague, and might result in their hoping someone else will carry that discussion and/or that they can jump in off of what someone else says. The slide below shows a table that I showed the students before dividing them into pairs (I have 11 in this class) so they would know what was expected when they came back. The assignment was to look. The partners were to look through 2 articles that were reading assignments on the history of counseling and school psychology, and identify what they felt were the top 5 developments for both fields during their assigned period of time. The expectation was that they would come back and paste their top fives into the table. By having this visual in front of them before they left for the breakout rooms guaranteed they would be on task.

  • Require reporting. Here’s an example of what the partners provided when they came back. I did have them also briefly summarize what stood out to them. In 5 words or less, how would you characterize your period for CP & SP? I gave advance instructions to listen for themes across the decades. After each group had gone I asked about general observations from what we had shared. I also asked what they thought was missing from the table, and the next decade would bring.

  • Vary the activities. As engaging as the activity above was, if it was the only type of breakout group activity I used each time, the approach would get tired.
    • Vary the number of people in the groups. Some activities work better with partners, some with a slightly larger group. 
    • Shake it up. Start by assigning people to rooms. After a few minutes, either ask certain members to move to another room, or manually  move people to different rooms. This can be useful when you are wanting people to hear different perspectives on a given topic.
    • Double the size, double the fun. Along the same lines of shake it up, if you start with partners on a specific topic, when the time is up, double the breakout room size by combining rooms. It should be clear what the new goal is. For example, it could be for each group to share what they discussed and to come up with a set # of recommendations.
    • Show and tell. Invite members to find one item that symbolizes their thoughts about one of the topics being discussed and share. In one class, we asked students to find something that helps them feel more confident with interviewing. Most chose an article of clothing or fixed their hair differently or showed a pair of shoes.
    • Role play. Often in my face-to-face classes, we’d have an application time when students would role play being a career counselor and client. Zoom breakout rooms is actually ideal for this, as they are much quieter than having 20 people in a classroom doing this at the same time. You could also include an observer to provide feedback.
    • Summarize key points. When I am covering a heavy topic, such as career theories, I usually have students pair up to summarize their notes to their partner on the key points of the last couple of theories I covered. This helps identify any gaps in their notes. Depending on the group size, partners/groups could be assigned specific theories and tasked with coming back with 3 key points of that theory, or analyzing a given case through the lens of that theory, or coming up with counseling questions that reflect the theory components.
    • Use other tools. Using a tool such as google docs can allow the whole class while in their breakout rooms to work on a shared document. They can create a brief presentation together that they then can share with the larger group.
  • Seek feedback. Consider having an anonymous survey or poll, perhaps not after every class and certainly not after every activity, but to see what they enjoyed about the breakout room activities, and if they have suggestions from other classes or their own experience on other types of activities that might be useful.

These are some hints that I’ve found to increase engagement during breakout rooms. What have you found to be helpful for increasing engagement? Hit us up in the comments!

Trying a New Tech Tool -Google Jamboard

I (Deb) teach a technology and counseling course in the summers, and each summer, I try to cover not only what is longstanding technology (telephone counseling, email advising/counseling, video chats, dropbox/google drive), but also to push the envelope in exploring other tools such as apps and also collaborative tools. This past week, I experimented with one of the tools in Google Drive, the “jamboard.”

jamboard.png

This class meeting was face-to-face, but I try to have them use technology regardless. The focus was on how to ethically integrate technology into face-to-face counseling, including what needed to occur prior to that decision, during (when with the client), and after it was introduced. They were divided into 3 groups of about 8 in each group and asked to use the sticky notes (but not talk) to brainstorm options for their group. Here’s an example of the before group:

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Following this, they were told to organize the stickies into similar themes. You can see the “during” group’s attempt at doing this as they started changing the colors to match the theme.

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Finally, they were asked to collapse similar ideas and then prioritize them into steps. This is the “after” group’s attempt to do this:

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Following this, we discussed each stage, and I added to it, and allowed other groups to add to each group’s ideas. Then, we processed the use of the tool, and how it might be used with a client or with other colleagues. We decided that the tool was useful for the first part of brainstorming, where everyone throws ideas up, and it gave everybody the chance to contribute. It became more difficult in the next steps, where the decision had to be made as to who would do the classifying, and who would prioritize the steps. Clearly, 8 people couldn’t do the prioritization, and there was no easy way to foster that decision. Someone would have to step up to be the leader, even if it was with the goal of delegating tasks (you 3 prioritize the green stickies, you 3 prioritize the blue…).

The class thought that this could be a useful resource with a client in a number of ways. If the client was struggling with anxiety or depression, this board could provide a number of creative strategies or reminders (e.g., cognitive reframes) to help them in the moment. By the counselor also adding in a few (hopefully evidence-based) ideas, this could also strengthen the working alliance. The board could also be used to house goals, steps, links to videos or resources, encouragements, and so forth.

As an instructor, I thought it was a useful tool. I hadn’t thought through the mechanics involved in the steps of ordering and prioritizing. I guess I figured they could figure that out – but it proved to be a situation where one person in each group just took over. If I were to do it over again, I’d probably provide some suggestions on how to go about those steps. My goal in not was to provide them with the freedom to explore and create without my being overly prescriptive – but the desired result didn’t occur. Next time, I might have a sticky that outlines next steps, such as providing specific steps that need to occur, enough so each person might have a task, and have each person to put a sticky with their name and task #, from which point they would proceed. All in all, it was a fun experiment. It achieved the goals of building experience with a new technological tool for the students, as well as helping them to think through the steps of integrating technology. I’ll probably keep this one with some minor modifications for next year.

Featured Resource – The Good Project

Welcome to another “Featured Resource!” Our Tool Library is growing with new categories and items. This month, we focus on the Career category and a site called “The Good Project,” which shares “ideas and tools for a good life.” 🙂

The Good Project promotes excellence, engagement, and ethics in education, preparing people to become good workers and good citizens who contribute to the overall well-being of society.

Developed by a research unit of Harvard Project Zero, this site offers collections of resources curated for educators and practitioners, students, and researchers. From a blog and social feeds (check them out on Twitter and Facebook), to a newsletter and curricula toolkits, you’ll find a range of inspiration from The Good Project. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Course Syllabi: Interested in new ideas for your career course? Browse syllabi from K-12 and college classes across the country, including titles like “Meaningful Work in a Meaningful Life.”
  • Activities: What is Good Work? Answering this question is just one of the sample activities provided by this site, all of which are designed to spark conversation and reflection.
  • Value Sort: Who doesn’t love a card sort? This online version allows you (or your student or client) to drag and drop 30 values to columns ranked by their importance. Print your results at the end.

What do you like about The Good Project? What is your favorite career-related tool? Enjoy your exploration of this and other tool library resources. We look forward to your feedback. 🙂

image source: WildOne, Pixabay