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!

Love presenter mode? Only have 1 screen? Mac-minded? No problem!

I love the presenter mode when making presentations. It allows me to share the main presentation but also operate behind the curtain. With my older and sometimes forgetful brain, I get to see the points I wanted to make without referring to paper notes or without showing the audience, and I can keep my slides simpler. I can see if I’ve spent too long on a slide, what the current time is, what slide is coming up, how much longer until a break, an activity, or the end of the presentation. This allows me to adjust in the moment. Yeah, I love presenter mode.

Enter COVID-19. Enter Zoom. I am now leading classes and discussions from my laptop. I don’t have the luxury of a second screen. But…I was excited to see that I could still see the presenter mode on my Mac (apologies to those with other systems) when presenting to my class. What I didn’t realize, until I looked at the class recording, was that the curtain was lifted and they saw my brilliant notes and upcoming slides (often which had the answers to the questions I had asked on the previous slide). Not loving presenter mode so much – until…

I found the advanced tab in the screen sharing option in Zoom! Fun times. You can either start off in presenter mode and then Command-tab to zoom, share screen, choose the portion of the screen option (in blue above), and it will automatically only share the slides (allowing you to see the upcoming slides and notes), or, you can keep your slides in normal mode, and do the same thing but make sure the outline is on your slides, and just arrow down.

So above you can see the rectangle. I can simply click on it and drag it if it isn’t just right, so it captures my slide.

Then, bingo. I’m back to happy presenter mode, and my students will only see what’s captured in the rectangle, while I am back where it’s comfy, behind the curtain with my next slides, notes, and timer. Brilliant, isn’t it? 🙂

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!