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Returning to the classroom? Don’t ditch the digital resources!

As the new academic year approaches, many teachers will be looking forward to what they hope will be an uninterrupted period of face-to-face teaching back in the classroom. Although we can’t be sure exactly how all our classes will be delivered in the long-term future, for now it is safe to suggest that there are many elements of online teaching that are worth including in your classroom practice to maintain high levels of engagement, vary the patterns of interaction and assessment, and also to consolidate digital literacy skills for both you and your students. This blog will highlight some of the demonstration videos and training resources from within our Resources section that introduce apps or software that you can simply integrate into your classroom this term. 

You may well be familiar with making quizzes in Microsoft Forms and assigning them through Teams. Just in case you need a refresher, have a look at this guide by Stuart Parkin from The Manchester College. Of course, this doesn’t just have to be for setting homework. Forms is a valuable tool to encourage students to respond to quick polls or quizzes during live lessons too, allowing for on-the-spot assesment. This gives you as a teacher access to responses from every member of the class, so you can immediately see levels of understanding, consensus of opinion, and areas that may need further explanation. This is a much more reliable indication of where your students’ understanding is compared to a show of hands or an open-class question. 

Beyond Forms, have you also considered Mentimeter? This offers all of the same advantages mentioned above in terms of collecting feedback from students, but with a couple of additional formats that Teams does not include. For example, with Mentimeter, your students’ responses can form word clouds, where the most frequent answers lead to larger words on the screen. You also have a handy ranking feature, and a sliding scale question format, which is a slightly different take on the “rating” option within Forms. To see how easy Mentimeter is to set up and use in class, have a look at this video from David Byrne of The Manchester College. 

Finally, if you want to incorporate a lot of the above interactive features seamlessly into your lesson presentation, without requiring your students to access multiple different platforms, then have a look at this video from Antony Wood from Trafford College Group about using Nearpod in your lessons. Nearpod works very well as a way of facilitating remote lessons, but it can also work fantastically well in the face-to-face classroom. The assumption here is that if you are likely to be asking your students to respond on a digital device to polls, quizzes, or collaborative tasks at various points in the lesson, why not sync these all into one presentation, on one platform, which allows the students to both follow the same presentation that the teacher gives at the front of the class, and to instantly respond to the interactive task without moving to a different platform. For example, you can take your existing powerpoint file for your lesson, import it into Nearpod, easily insert quizzes or other tasks like those demonstrated in Antony’s video, and then generate a PIN for your entire lesson. Students log on to Nearpod, follow your lesson as you lead it, and respond to the tasks as soon as they come up. Like all good classroom apps, Nearpod allows you to analyse the responses so you can check for participation, as well as use the tasks for on-the-spot assessment.