To find success in the hallowed halls of higher education these days, it takes more than a sterling lesson plan and a solid syllabus. As important as good material is in the classroom is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively to your students.
Fortunately, thanks to technology, there are loads of communication tools that can help turn even the most pedestrian orator into a world-class educator. We’ll describe six key tools you should be using to ensure effective communication in higher education settings.
Use these 6 tools to help you communicate effectively in higher education
We all had those teachers in school: disorganized, unprepared for the lesson, forever stumbling in their lessons, and losing the attention of the class. These teachers can serve as an abject lesson to the educators of today on the absolute importance of being an effective communicator.
Not only does effective communication allow a professor to impart the correct information efficiently, but it also encourages the students to respond in kind, engaging with their professors and with each other both in and out of the classroom.
In order to ensure your students get the most out of your lectures in the classroom and your interactions during office hours, the wise professor utilizes the following tools to elevate their communication abilities, even in a virtual setting.
A virtual teleprompter
Let’s start off with one of the more useful tools in a professor’s toolbox that, for some reason, is almost always overlooked: the virtual teleprompter app.
Not just a tool for politicians and anchors, virtual teleprompter apps like VODIUM can help you stay on track and on point during class times. This is especially true in the virtual classroom.
Virtual teleprompter apps allow you to input your notes and lectures, keeping them front and center while you’re speaking to your class. In virtual classrooms, they allow you to maintain eye contact with the class and camera. This has the added benefit of allowing you to engage more with your class.
And because the pacing of the lecture is such a vital part of imparting information effectively, virtual teleprompter apps like VODIUM will allow you to auto-scroll notes and information across the screen or allow you manual control over how fast the text moves. This allows you to deliver the information to your class in the most effective manner.
Video conferencing software
The COVID-19 pandemic got the world used to using video conferencing software for everything from higher education to work-from-home jobs to social gatherings. And while the pandemic may be gone, the usefulness of video conferencing software remains.
The obvious use of software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams is in replacing classroom time with virtual learning. However, video conferencing software can also make it easier for the professor to handle office-hours questions or inquiries from students by giving them the ability to speak directly to you without either of you having to make the trek to your office.
Video conferencing software can be especially useful for distance learning or times when a professor is unable to give lectures in person, perhaps due to travel or inability to reach the campus. Video conferencing software can be paired with virtual teleprompter apps to give you an even greater edge in the presentation of your materials.
An interactive whiteboard
The whiteboard in the classroom is as ubiquitous in higher education as shin guards are in hockey, but thanks to technology, they’ve evolved somewhat beyond the simple wall-mounted boards of the past.
Interactive whiteboards, which are also known as “smart boards,” are essentially large displays mounted at the front of the classroom in place of traditional whiteboards that are web-enabled and able to display a variety of interactive content to the class.
Interactive whiteboards can enhance your classroom communication through several means, such as sharing of notes from faculty to students, the ability to record your classroom session for later posting online, and even the gamification of the learning process through interactive educational games.
When we were students, many of our peers complained that quizzes were an unnecessary and often dreaded part of the educational process. In reality, though, quizzes are an extremely valuable tool both for students and professors, as they allow both parties to observe and quantify the effectiveness of the learning process up to that point.
Virtual quizzes especially are useful for professors to evaluate how well their students are learning the material presented to them. They can be taken at any time up to the set deadline and are useful for students who may have had difficulty getting to class or are uncomfortable taking tests in person due to social anxiety or other obstacles.
Virtual quizzes may also be set up to allow for retakes, allowing students who do not perform well to re-study the material and retake the quiz once they have a greater handle on it.
Sometimes you can find out what a class full of students is thinking just by asking them. Other times, you have to be more circumspect. Online surveys—especially ones that allow for anonymity in the answers—are excellent tools for professors to use when they want to take the temperature of the class.
Online surveys can be tailored to specific questions, such as how students feel about the material being presented to them or where they feel the curriculum might be lacking. They can be more free-form, asking students to just speak up about what might be on their minds.
This then allows professors to make on-the-fly adjustments to their courses if needed and can help them improve their curriculum in future semesters to ensure the students get the most out of their classroom experience.
Online discussion boards
Online discussion boards have been a part of higher education almost since the beginning of the internet and provide an excellent way to keep in communication with your students.
Discussion boards or forums can serve many functions. They can be places where you archive your lessons, especially if used in conjunction with recorded lectures, allowing students to go back to lessons to pick up on things they may have missed.
They also serve as excellent places to distribute class-critical information. Assignments can be posted to the discussion board, as can supplemental materials and links to online quizzes or surveys.
Online discussion boards also allow your students to communicate with one another in a moderated environment about the information they’ve learned in class. Many students today are more comfortable in online interactions rather than classroom settings, and a discussion board can allow those students a chance to interact without undue anxiety.
More so than almost anything else on this list, the online discussion board can serve as a central communications hub for your class.
VODIUM helps ensure effective higher education communication
VODIUM offers a full virtual teleprompter tool with many functions to allow you to focus on delivering information to your students without having to worry about memorizing lesson plans or long-winded lectures. As you can see, it’s a mighty tool in the world of the classroom. Drop by our website and start your free trial to see how VODIUM can help elevate your educational experience today!