Simple tricks to activate interaction in online lectures

The semester started late this year in Bremen – only on Nov. 3rd. In these weird Corona-driven times, we decided to go fully digital and are now running our lectures in real-time via Zoom.

I was researching a lot about how to activate interaction in class and how to make students more comfortable to ask questions and to speak up. At the end, I decided for two actions:

  • In the first Zoom lecture, I asked everybody to quickly say hello, their name and where they come from. This took quite a lot for 40+ students, but it was definitely worth it – later on, I received many thanks from the students to have given them the chance to say something. Also, it forced them at first to switch on their cameras and most of them stayed with camera on – much better also for me, since I do not like teaching to black boxes. It feels like talking to the wall…
  • We have already done very good experience with weekly homework during the first pandemic semester. Also this time, we started right away with some simple exercises. One of them I called the “forum games” – everybody should contribute two posts on the class forum, document that and submit for homework. Surprise, surprise: discussions are now flourishing!

Simple, but effective tricks – do you also have some? Share them as comments!

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