My First Week with Remote Teaching

April 9, 2020 / by Steve Isaacs

Category: Community, Guest Blog Post

I teach game design and development. Teaching my classes remotely works pretty well as I teach using a quest based / choice based learning environment that I run through Classcraft. I also created a Discord server for my classes so that we can have a place for persistent conversation among the class and create separate channels for different topics / projects. I have my students complete a simple google form each day to respond to several simple questions:

  • What did you work on today?
  • How challenging did you find the experience?
  • What are your goals for tomorrow?
  • Questions, comments, concerns?

This provides a simple way for me to assess student participation and learning (and take daily attendance). I can take a quick glance and see what everyone has been working on and if there are questions I can reach out to the child directly. Students can also reach me via email, discord, or our messaging system in Classcraft

In addition, I have been live streaming to Twitch two to three times a day to showcase content creation tools and invite special guests to participate. I share the opportunities with my students but also market the opportunity to educators and students around the world via Twitter. So far we have been averaging 20 to 30 viewers at a time and the recordings are shared to YouTube afterwards.

I have been collaborating with a number of educators including Stephen Reid, Kevin Caja, Cathy Cheo-Isaacs, Mike Washburn, and Erik Leitner. Erik started to develop a series of COVID-19 Minecraft build challenges. Cathy and I have been working with Erik to add challenges and contribute to the livestreams sharing the individual challenges. I have a number of other guests lined up including Adam Clarke, Mark Suter, developers from the game, Crey, Tom Shannon from Epic Games, and more!

I am grateful to have the support of and Mike Washburn in terms of producing the live streams as it has allowed me to focus on the content while Mike does a brilliant job of managing the cameras, screen shares, etc. That has been going super well and I only foresee it getting better. I love the opportunity to connect with others through the stream. It provides us with a vehicle to keep in touch, interact, and learn with and from one another. I am a big fan of constructivist learning and believe this really allows for that in a way that is harder to accomplish in a classroom with a closed door. We are also using Streamyard. It allows for up to 6 participants to be live and on camera as well as easy screen sharing. We are looking at other options as well in order to potentially include additional and possibly more robust features but I am very happy with what we have been able to do so far.

I hope this helps others to create meaningful ways to meet their students during this challenging time. I keep saying, that the very positive unanticipated outcome of all of this is that it is forcing us to move forward with ways to connect and deliver instruction. Once we are back in schools we will have new and exciting ways to enhance teaching and learning that can extend far beyond our classroom walls.

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