When facilitating virtual classrooms, be sure that your small group activities are well planned and clear and concise for virtual participants. First, remember to keep small group activities to no more than 3 – 5 students per group, utilizing online “breakout rooms” for students to gather in to complete the activity. When you develop small group activities, keep the following:
- Develop detailed instructions as to what participants must do to complete the activity. Review these with the students online, prior to sending them off to the breakout rooms, but also post a document that they can download or view on line with the same instructions as you have verbally told them.
- Be sure the directions include how responses to the activity should be posted and shared with the rest of the class when complete and also expectations around what it considered successful completion of the activity. For example, I might instruct students to utilize the Whiteboard in their breakout room to capture their responses to the activity.
- Once the activity starts, move between breakout rooms to answer any questions students may have about the activity and to ensure they understand the directions and are moving in the right direction.
Since you cannot see how individuals are reacting to what you are telling them about the assignment (as you would in a face-to-face classroom setting), be sure your posted instructions are very clear and concise – outlining what needs to be done, how they should work as a group and what the expected end result it. I often like to share my activity instructions with a colleague to see if they make sense or if there is anything that is unclear.