Across the country, we’ve been told to stay home and practice social distancing until the end of April. No social gatherings of ten or more people are allowed. By now, everyone knows how to wash their hands for 20 seconds or more. Over the last several weeks, PA educators have been uprooted from their classrooms and campuses, told to gather their belongings and begin working from home. PA students have been informed they must leave their clinical rotations, which may delay their graduation and affect their financial aid and housing situation.
Anxiety is expectedly running high for both faculty and students as a sense of control is lost during this time. Faculty are feeling the pressure to find plausible solutions to maintain quality communication, motivate students, and keep them calm. A major question is how to stay connected during the outbreak of the Coronavirus in order to teach online effectively.
How to use Zoom meetings for PA education
Educators have been using Zoom meetings to teach classes online. Zoom is a great platform that offers quality video, audio, and wireless screen-sharing capabilities, and it allows students to record sessions, collaborate on projects, and share or annotate on one another’s screens. It’s also a great tool to keep faculty connected. (We recommend using an ethernet cable in order to receive faster internet service with little to no interruption.)
Here are a few ways to use Zoom as a PA educator:
Connect with students and encourage interaction
Distance learning through Zoom is a great way to help students feel connected and stay engaged. As you meet regularly for online classes, encourage students to interact during the class. To start, invite them to turn on their cameras so everyone can see everyone. This keeps students engaged and paying attention just as they might in the classroom. Students who keep their cameras off or call in by phone are less likely to interact and may leave the room or simply stop paying attention because there is a lack of accountability.
Be sure to call on each student throughout the class time to ensure participation from everyone. Invite them to ask questions or participate in various discussions. Though you’re meeting online by computer, these meetings are still class time and provide a chance for students to share their thoughts and concerns.
Manage your online classroom
Zoom has a variety of tools available as you teach online. Employing the right tools will help you maintain clear rules of engagement while meeting with your students. For instance, show students how to use the chat feature to “raise” a hand to talk. Ask students to mute their mics when someone else is talking to avoid unwanted interruptions. Remind students it’s okay if they need a quick break; encourage them to mute their mic and turn off their camera when doing so.
Regular classroom expectations, such as being respectful of one another, are still in place. Being online doesn’t remove these rules of engagement.
Maintain exam integrity
Require students to download the Zoom app on their smartphone before taking an exam. Administer the exam through the exam software or by another virtual avenue. When the student is ready to take the exam, they will open the Zoom app by phone and position their camera to show the proctor their computer and keyboard. This helps secure test integrity.
Create social hours for faculty
Zoom isn’t limited to class meetings; it can also be used for social hours between PA faculty. Consider scheduling a weekly time for faculty to meet online to share updates and information. Personally, our social hour is on Mondays at 8am, so we also get to enjoy our morning cup of coffee together.
Other ways to take advantage of Zoom
Create small break out groups that can utilize case-based learning
Hold individual Academic Advising meetings with advisors
Schedule weekly meetings with remediation students (or, Students at Risk [STARS]) to discuss study plans (Students are expected to continue following their remediation contract and submit screenshots of progress reports)
Continue identifying Students at Risk (STARS)