Teenage girl with headphones having an online school class at home.

Have you experienced the following scenario? You teach a class online and ask a question at the cohort, a few seconds have passed, and no answer. This awkwardness makes you continue with the answers. So what can you do not only to prevent similar situations but to make engaging and motivational conversations?

A woman sitting at her home office and talking in a meeting using her laptop.

Use the Chat function

Ask a question but advise students to type their responses into the chat. Make sure that the type of response is brief and simple, something that students would not hesitate to share. You can also ask students to write an example. Then, choose the right answer and ask the student who wrote it to explain further. Don’t forget to give input and thank the student for sharing.

Pedagogical benefits

  • Forms a gradual dialogue instead of asking a challenging question.
  • Allows you to lead the conversation and select the answers that students will benefit more.

Use a Padlet wall

If you want to ask a question that requires students to think more, give students a few minutes and ask them to type their answer on a Padlet wall. You can share a link to the wall via chat, and each student can add their own sticky note with their answer. Both you and the students see each other’s answers in real-time. Then, pick an interesting answer and ask the student who wrote it to elaborate.

Want to learn more about Padlet? You can read Sarah’s blog.

Pedagogical benefits

  • Gives students an opportunity to reflect.
  • It helps you and the students to compare responses.
  • Enables shy students to participate actively.

Use Vevox

Think about replacing open questions to live polls. The real-time polling feature helps to create an engaging learning environment. You can use Vevox to show the students a multiple-choice question on the screen. Then, give students a minute to think and choose what they think is the right answer. Students vote easily using their device (phone, tablet or laptop). They can use any web browser or download the Vevox app for Apple and Android. Don’t forget to sum up the results and give feedback before continuing with the lecture.

Details on how to use Vevox can be found on the eLearning support site.

Pedagogical benefits

  • Everyone participates
  • Gamifies the learning experience

Softball questions

Students are often hesitant to speak up simply because the question is big. They don’t truly know what to answer. The trick often referred to as “softball questions” is to split your question into smaller, chewable chunks. For instance, start with a yes / no question about a subject ( e.g., do you think the business strategy of this company is right?). Then, once you hit your conclusion, build up your next questions based on previous responses ( e.g., What’s the business strategy? What strategy would you choose? Why?).

Pedagogical benefits

  • Generates relevant and interesting conversations

These are 4 tips that will help students to join the conversation in an online class. The key is to plan your questions and familiarise yourself with the above tools.

Εngage students and make them speak over Teams and ΒΒ Collaborate

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