Tag Archives: virtual teaching rounds

Re-thinking the Classroom: Article by VIT

In 2010, our school, Hawkesdale P12 College in conjunction with CEP (Country Education Project) and the University of Ballarat trialled a Virtual Teaching Practicum with three pre-service teachers. Here is a wonderful report and summary in the latest VIT (Victorian Institute of Teachers) magazine. VIT gave approval to the trial project as it was essential that such an innovative and high risk taking, was recognized for the girls’ minimum placement requirements. Lesley McGregor, of CEP, liaised this amazing project. What our email alert message said:-

Please find below a link to Issue 8 of Professional Practice: ‘Engaging teachers’. It features the work of teacher and acclaimed presenter of professional development Glen Pearsall, with his practical hints on how to create and foster more effective and engaging classrooms. Re-thinking classroom dynamics is the focus of an article on Professor Ramon Lewis’ Developmental Approach to classroom behavior, while the feature on Hawkesdale P12 College and their recent virtual placement pilot suggests a re-think of the classroom itself.

Here is the link to the online article And the Walls Came Down or for a printable version:



Ideas for teaching students successfully in elluminate – a virtual classroom

As our two pre-service teachers, enter their virtual placement week, it is necessary to have as much scaffolding in place for them. They will be teaching a variety of year levels and age groups – from 13 years through to 17 years of age, using a number of tools, but mostly elluminate.

Therefore, it is time to reflect on what they need to do before their online class, during the class and finalizing class and have a running sheet set up for them, to use as a guideling. Following are some tips and hints on teaching successfully. What has been left out? How  could it be improved?

Planning for the lesson

  1. Book an elluminate room
  2. Organise your powerpoint slides
  3. Work out features required:- polling,media, app sharing, breakout rooms. 
  4. Plan a running sheet with times allocated for each activity
  5. Use as much interactivity as possible
  6. Consider an ice breaker
  7. Place the participants’link on your blog or in an easily accessible space.
  8. Seek another moderator to help you (if need be.)
  9. Use the chat and the whiteboard.
  10. Vary the activities
  11. Use busy images as much as possible
  12. Think about a discipline plan
  13. Set up a backchannel eg twitter or skype if there is a supervising teacher with the class.

Prior to lesson

  1. Enter room, test audio.
  2. Test, test and always test.
  3. If time practise any special features to be used in class
  4. Move the ‘start recording’ button to the side.
  5. Load powerpoint slides
  6. You may wish to start with a graffiti board, where students can play while others are getting into the room.
  7. Check the number of mics, the connection setting, tools allowed etc
  8. Create a timeout room folder (for those who are misbehaving), Create any breakout folders required
  9. Open any urls that you might wish to app share
  10. Send any files that you may need to share
  11. Make moderators of selected participants
  12. Go through a code of conduct with the students.

During the lesson

  1. Students should test their audio through wizard upon entry, may be allowed to graffiti or ‘Play on a clean whiteboard’ until all are in.
  2. Warn that you are about to start the recording, clean up any whiteboards, ensure class is silent and ready, then press record.
  3. Remember to speak deliberately s..l..o..w..l..y and clearly.
  4. Welcome the class/ give a general introduction to the lesson
  5. Briefly run through the virtual classroom tools
  6. Start with an icebreaker
  7. Use the timer constantly – short sharp activities
  8. Use images, little text
  9. Use polls where possible
  10. Get them to answer a question in chat, don’t press send until told, use a green tick when completed. Then get them all to send response at once (stops cheating)
  11. Use the chat, the whiteboard and encourage the use of emoticons for feedback.
  12. Vary the activities and make as interactive as possible
  13. Use busy images as much as possible
  14. Save the participants list (this is a valuable type of roll marking)

Disciplinary actions

  1. If discipline is required, use capital letters to raise your voice in the chat, send students to timeout room for a warning, keep them there for predetermined time, remove any tools that they have, send back to main room when ready.
  2. If student is constantly misbehaving, keep them in the timeout room. If you remove them from the room, they may still have the link and will just keep coming back in.

To assess student progress during the lesson

  1. Maintain video image on the working class, get some students to individually application share their work so that you can see how they are going.
  2. All questions should be placed in the chat, so virtual teacher maintains control

To complete the lesson

  1. Share any closing activities
  2. Allow sufficient time to pack up any gear eg headsets, netbooks/laptops etc
  3. Set up a whiteboard for feed back or have a preset survey link for students to complete
  4. Dismiss students

Finalizing the session

  1. Switch off the recording
  2. Make sure all participants are removed from the room before exiting
  3. Save the chat
  4. Save the whiteboards
  5. Find the recording link, (usually in an email of person who booked the room) and save it
  6. Share the recording link back on your blog so students can go back to it for revision etc

Enjoy virtual teaching!

Weeks 2 and 3 of Online Teaching Practicum

A partnership between the University of Ballarat, Country Education Project and Hawkesdale P12 College is trialling a 6 week Virtual Teaching Round Practicum. Two of the student teachers, Abby Schultz and Michelle Iro are in our school for the 6 weeks. 4 weeks will be used to get to know the students, classes, subjects and staff with the fifth, being the virtual teaching placement and the 6th week will be back at school again for reflection.

Learning the online tools

Week 1 was spent introducing many new web2.0 tools that could be used for online teaching. It is unfortunate that university Educational faculties are not training students for eLearning yet. Weeks 2  and 3 further developed skills in the use of web2.0

Over this time, Michelle and Abby have also been exposed to great examples of virtual classooms. The have participated in virtual learning spaces –  the Boston, USA linkup with years 9/10 ICT, the two  online presentations on Kanawinka and Hong Kong geoparks, in elluminate, as part of Earth Science week and a videoconference using skype with a school in Ipoh, Malaysia. Both girls have also completedtheir first session of moderator training, through Innovations and Next Practise, of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Michelle has also had the opportunity to visit Bianca’s online teaching work with grade4 students. Bianca, our third student teacher,  is teaching from Senshan in China.

Week 4 is about to begin and is the final week leading up to the virtual placement. Supervising staff will meet with the girls to determine what needs to be put in place to ensure as smooth a delivery as possible for this trial.

  • how many lessons will the girls attempt online
  • what will they teach
  • what tools will they use to teach effectively
  • how will it look
  • what hardware and software is required
  • how can they control the class
  • alternatives should the internet go down.
  • how is everyone feeling about it all
  • how do we enusre that the student teachers are ready?
  • how do we ensure that the classes are ready – cyber safety, plaguarism, copyright issues, appropriate online behaviour, consequences of misbehaviour
  • how do we ensure that the supervising staff are ready?
  • other???

What suggestions do you, the readers have? Please comment below as we need feedback, encouragement and support in this HUGE endeavour.

The key stakeholders all meet - CEP, UB, student teachers, teachers

My tea had chicken feet in it!

Someone was talking to me on skype. On closer investigation, I looked to see that it was Bianca, one of our student teachers, who is part of the trial virtual teaching round’s project. She completed one week teacher placement with us and has just flown to China for a four week placement,  to teach English communication.

First day there, she was unable to get her microphone to work in skype. Fortunately, she could hear me, when I rang her. Stepping her through the process, she informed me (in the midst of all my instructions) that ‘her tea last night had chicken feet in it” and she had used a toilet that was just a hole in the ground! (Please don’t be offended if you come from other cultures, as I had chicken feet when I went to Malaysia and enjoyed them. It is a delicacy but it is not the normal food, we get in Australia). And for a young lady who has never been out of Australia, this was not quite to her normal diet. As such cultural shock is in place!

Proceeding along to help her with her microphone, I asked her to go to Tools>options>audio settings but Bianca said she couldn’t find it as it was all in Chinese! So our virtual communications and adventure with China began! Eventually, Bianca hooked up her netbook that she had taken and shifted from the desktop in her room. Audio and video then worked and lively conversations with many staff continued.

That afternoon, Bianca wanted to use her new flip, but did not know how to work it. Skype came to the rescue again, and I could demonstrate how to use mine to her so she could see, using the videoconferencing aspect.

Learning how to use the camera with skype

During my year 11 IT class, Bianca appeared on skype with more questions, but we took this as a teachable moment and my class was also able to share in conversations with her. Thanks Bianca for sharing with us.

Getting Started – Virtual Teaching Rounds

As no other records of a similar trial project can be found, we are ‘winging it’ through virtual teaching rounds. Abby and Michelle will be with us for another three weeks, before they trial the week’s online placement. To adequately  prepare them for this placement, they need to familiarise themselves with a number of tools that they might use:- blogs, voicethreads, wallwisher, vokis etc. Time needs to be given to them for record keeping through a CEP online forum, blogs and digital imagery eg videos and images. They will need to trial the use of skype for videoconferencing and work in elluminate so that they can experiment with and use these tools effectively. Here are two fabulous online teachers, Tammy Moore and Jo Hart,  who have presented in elluminate for Classroom2.0LIVE and eT@lking. Listen to the recordings of these sessions to get a taste of what can be done.

Need to also work on blogs – learn how to change themes, add blog rolls/links,  embed code onto the blogs, add a clock etc

Virtual teaching rounds – week 1

This week marks the first week ofvirtual teaching rounds.Three student teachers, soon to graduate have taken up this innovative but challenging trial project. This is a partnership between the Country Education Project, University of Ballarat and Hawkesdale P12 College. It is running on a shoe string budget.

 Bianca, is going to be with us for three weeks and over in China for four weeks. From China, Bianca hopes to teach virtually her grade 4 class from China. The other two teachers will be off campus for one week, teaching virtually. She will work with grade 4 at our school and Carly Vize. Abby is working in the humanities area and Michelle in maths/humanities – both are in the middle years. Due to Bianca’s almost immediate departure to China next week, she was a priority to set up with some online teaching skills – Bianca will use skpye (the chat, audio, video and screen sharing ability), a class blog, wallwisher and other tools for her virtual interaction. Biance will purchase a dongle once in China to give her 24/7 access to the internet. The challenge will be blocked sites.

Getting Ready:

As we can find no experience to work upon, we are ‘playing this by ear’, ‘winging it and’ learning on the fly’!! The three girls are ideal candidates – willing to learn, enthusiastic,optimistic, have a sense of humour, are confiden, willing to work hard, eager to learn  and best of all are keen to make this work! Bianca is working in the primary section with grade 4 and their teacher. Each of the supervising teachers have differing levels of expertise with technology, ranging from highly experienced to still mastering some of the tools. Here is the setup for them!

Day one

  1. Our technician worked on their laptops so they can access our school network and wireless internet. It was too much to reghost their laptops as they would have to be wiped at the end of the round, so our school lent them a netbook each which has the Edustar image found on all our netbooks and a wonderful suite of software tools
  2. Two lesson times were set aside, to work with the girls on tools that they might use for teaching online – voicethread, wallwisher and wordle.

Day two

  • worked with their classes and shadowed their supervising teachers.
  • emailed Julie Lindsay to see which online tools are blocked in China.

Day Three

  1. Abby and Bianca joined my accounting class to see how the virtual student from Balmoral is accommodated.
  2. Britt Gow and I worked with the girls after school in our usual WIWOW time.
  3. Commenced a class blog for each – learnt how to edit and add an image using irfanview See  Bianca’s class blog, Michelle’s class blog and Abby’s class blog
  4. Recorded Bianca with her impressions of her first class – introducing them to the fact she was going to China
  5. Abby registered for and  started a voki (animated avatar)
  6. The girls enjoyed one of our staff functions at the TAFE Endeavours  restaurant in Warrnambool at night.

Day Four

  • worked with Bianca to ensure she knew how to work her class blog

Day five

  • Online linkup with a teacher, Lorraine Leo, from Boston, USA, listening to her share her class, classroom and the city she lives in. Lorraine is an experienced and effective online teacher and uses inteactivity with students wherever possible. However, data transmission was slow this time and her video image cut in and out for a start. Abby and Michelle sat in on this.
  • worked with Bianca again and discussed her approach whilst in China


  1.  The dongles, allowing mobile internet access,  did not come with the girls. This has been a real constraint as they need internet access at night time to complete their journals, online lesson plans etc. (they will be picked up this weekend from Ballarat)
  2. The lack of a budget. Means that all work has to be done in spares etc with no promise of CRT replacement
  3. Lack of netbooks that can be dedicated to this round so our school had to allow the girsl one from our library sets. These are in high demand from classes and senior students who do not have their own netbooks
  4. Time – time to write this all up, blog about it, share in discussions etc Time to keep in online contact with Lesley MacGregor, our great support from Country Education Project who liaises with us and the University of Ballarat.
  5. Their lack of knowledge of many of the potential tools that can be used for eLearning. This needs to be taught in the Education faculties of Universities and become part of teacher training.

Other factors

  1. Need to take care of our stress levels as this is extremely demanding and time consuming.

The unexpected factors:-

  1. We have laughter, excitement and the influence of youth in our staffroom
  2. Three young innovative youth are working with innovative teachers within our school and pushing innovation at a faster pace. They are sharing their ideas, approaches and experiences with digital technology and I love it! It is worth all the hard work!

Britt and Michelle working it out!