Conferencing technology is quickly making its way into schools and college campuses across the world, but is this a tool that hinders or boosts student productivity?
It goes without saying that educational technology (EdTech) is a tool, not an instructor. However, when used effectively, EdTech like screen sharing can elevate the quality of the class, facilitating student engagement and performance.
You may be wondering, “why the focus on screen sharing?” The answer is that the most effective tools are the ones that students and instructors recognize – like screen sharing.
If you’ve ever taken a call from a frazzled colleague the day before their start-of-term lecture asking how to organize their slide decks, you know what we’re talking about. Likewise, if you’ve ever had a student come to office hours the day after their first assignment was due to tell you that they didn’t upload their paper for grading because they couldn’t figure out how, screen sharing may be your solution.
Screen sharing can provide a consistent way to share information with your class while you all get up to speed on this year’s new learning management systems (LMS).
Here are five use-cases for screen sharing that showcase the possibilities of implementing a simple technology into your curriculum.
1. Improve accessibility for all students
Tailoring your course to a student covered by the ADA may seem like a challenge. However, screen sharing can help bridge the gap between your slide deck and a student who needs accommodation.
For example, screen sharing allows your students to tune in to your lecture from anywhere with an internet connection. This means that a student with mobility restrictions will have an easier time getting to class in a punctual manner, especially in dodgy winter weather.
Improved accessibility also means that a student who experiences sensory overload in a lecture environment can attend lectures from a more appropriate space. And, yes, it also means that your student with completely unsuspicious weekly “car trouble” can tune in from wherever they find themselves stranded.
Within the lecture hall, students can use their laptops to tune into your lecture slides in real-time, which can help students with a visual impairment capture more relevant information.
2. Provide an infrastructure that complements a flipped-classroom lesson plan
At this point, many educators have heard of the flipped-classroom method. If the term is new to you, a flipped-classroom is a method of teaching that allows an instructor to disburse the lecture-based information to students before the course meets, and then spend valuable in-person class time on discussion and practice. Using screen sharing software, an instructor can pre-record a lecture that makes the most of prepared slides and other supplementary content, giving students the background information that they will need to participate in the class discussion.
While the class meets, screen sharing is also compatible with both in-person and online class models. For example, students in a traditional classroom can use screen sharing to give presentations without connecting their device to presentation hardware or getting out of their seat. Students can also use screen sharing in an online class to facilitate online discussions before beginning a practicum or joining a larger class discussion.
3. Facilitate expert guest lectures or eliminate the cost of field trips
Bringing in a guest lecturer is a win-win for both students and professors because it shakes up the routine and gives professors a break from the rigors of teaching day after day. Guests can provide a first-person perspective on otherwise opaque course content as well as offer an opportunity for students to ask in-person questions. A screen-sharing experience can be more engaging than passively watching relevant content, which is why guest lecturers can offer better insights when compared with documentaries.
All of this can be done just with video conferencing, but the screen sharing feature means that a prepared guest can engage supporting materials to show, rather than tell, students about the subject of their expertise. Students will also have the advantage of being able to show their colleagues and instructors their notes, search results or anything else that helps them add to the discussion.
4. Take the burden of transportation out of group projects
Group projects provide valuable collaborative experiences for students like problem solving, time management, communication… the list goes on. You may have also noticed that students have a lot going on outside of class to time manage: sports, clubs, jobs, other classwork, etc.
Coordination via web conferencing with screen sharing allows students to synchronously participate on their project and practice presentations, as if they were in the same room at the same time.
5. Implement a closure or pre-break lesson plan
The semesters are short enough as it is. Getting a group of students through an entire course usually requires planning which modules can be considered expendable. Expendable lessons accommodate unexpected changes in the classroom, like when there’s a school closure, a student gets sick or half the class skips the last lecture before a holiday.
Instead of cutting the curriculum short, consider turning those lessons into an opportunity to teach a live class via web conferencing, leveraging screen sharing to make the most out of your slides, supporting videos and other materials. This way your students won’t suffer, at least from an educational perspective, from an unplanned interruption to their class experience.
When it comes to making EdTech choices for your lecture hall or classroom, it’s easy to be dazzled by the wide array of choices out there. While those options undoubtedly have the potential to impact your students’ engagement with the curriculum, screen sharing and other tools already at your disposal do, too.
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