1. Consider the length of the class.
For online classes we recommend frequent 1 or 1.5 hour classes. This is optimal for conversational and speaking activities. Much longer than this it can be hard to stay focused.
2. Choose the right platform.
We recommend Zoom because it’s free, offers unlimited 1-1 meetings (40 min. limit on group meetings), you can record your class, the connection is very good, and you can invite anyone without them having to make an account.
If for some reason you need an alternative, Google Hangouts is the second best option.
We avoid using Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp because they are not as good for screen sharing which is an important part of our online classes.
3. Make sure you’re prepared.
Plan to take your class on your computer, not your cell phone. Check your internet speed: https://www.speedtest.net/ Minimum bandwidth is 600kbps (up/down) and recommended is 1.5 Mbps (up/down). Find a quiet place and eliminate interruptions. Use headphones and test your microphone beforehand. Sign on on time.
4. Be patient & ask for clarification.
With online calls we sometimes have to change how we speak to avoid interrupting the other person. Plus the lack of visual cues can make listening comprehension more difficult. If you don’t understand, make sure to ask your teacher for clarification.
5. Get ready for class.
Your teacher may assign pre-class work such as watching a video, reading an article, or submitting a writing assignment so that you can use the class time to discuss. Online classes are best used for conversation and speaking activities, so any reading or viewing is really best done beforehand. Make sure to do your homework so that you can get the most out of your class time with your teacher.
We ask that you connect to the class on your computer, not your cell phone, so that you can easily see when the teacher shares his or her screen.
6. Ask your teacher to send you the notes.
With online classes I strongly recommend that teachers have a Doc open while sharing their screen so that he or she can use it as a white board and quickly make notes. This also allows the teacher to clarify if you don’t hear or understand something. Finally, at the end of the class you can ask your teacher to send you this document, so you have notes from the class.
7. Connect with your teacher.
In this time of social isolation, many of us are missing human connection. Use your class as an opportunity to connect with your teacher and speak about your feelings during this time. Give your teacher feedback on your class and tell them what you’d like to focus on in future classes.