A Virtual Teaching Goal for the 2019-2020 School Year

This school year, in my virtual classroom, I would like to incorporate more student screen sharing into live class sessions.

When I’ve had students share their screens in the past years, it went a long way toward replicating that feeling of working side by side with students as in a brick and mortar classroom.

The trick at this point is scaling up the whole experience — not just one or a handful of students sharing screens, but a large group, with a goal of 100% of students sharing their screens for any given virtual class size.

A lofty goal, indeed.

What would they be sharing on their screens? An approach to virtual class time such as this would seem to naturally favor those ‘student-centered’ types of lessons (vs. lecture, for example).

Along these lines, I must mention that I am hesitant to incorporate students sharing video of themselves, e.g. sharing their webcams to replicate that face to face feeling of being together in a physical classroom. My thought on this is that it opens up space for other unintended and potentially undesired consequences. And while I would anticipate a small percentage of my high school students willing to share, I would also anticipate a larger percentage of students and parents resisting.

With that in mind, I envision student screen sharing as a potential workable middle ground, allowing for the good things that can come from individualized student centered learning activities in the virtual classroom, while minimizing (though certainly not eliminating!) potential unintended distractions.

As for tools to enable simultaneous screen sharing by each student, I would like to explore the Zoom meeting tool. After some brief experimenting this summer with the Zoom Android app, I was quite impressed with the ability to share an Android device’s screen, along with similar functionality on other platforms. A few colleagues have also pointed out some helpful resources I plan to look into.

Feedback, suggestions, resources, etc. via comments are greatly appreciated!

About JMVarnerBooks

With the days of international travel behind him, J. M. Varner now exercises his language skills in his English classroom and on the page. A second life as an author affords him another way to encourage his students and fans to read, write, and think independently. Borrowing terms from noted media critic Neil Postman, Mr. Varner summarizes his 'Philosophy of Fiction': "Writing a novel is a creative process of World Building and Word Weaving. Authors build worlds in our minds; these can be fantastical worlds or fictionalized variations of our own reality. By writing and rewriting, we weave these worlds into words on the page." Mr. Varner is currently writing the next novel in the "Squirrel Hill High" series, a series launched with the debut novel, "Digital Me". Set in a fictional high school located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at Squirrel Hill High students and teachers live through true-to-life drama in the emotionally charged environment of the American high school.
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