Investments in digital technologies, together with cost savings from less travel and office space, have led to a need for staff with an additional set of skills in many firms; one that includes the ability to participate in, design, and manage remote collaboration events effectively.
Realizing the pandemic has disrupted not only the world of education, but that of employers everywhere, many of us at the University of Europe for Applied Sciences (UE) in Iserlohn, Germany, have been folding in ways to enhance our students’ digital competencies while we teach.
For me, discovering how MURAL can breathe life into the quietest groups by providing a venue for participants to creatively build on material together has been a game-changer. This paradigm shift in what class time is for — from mostly one-way communication to two-way interactions — has led to a marked improvement in learning outcomes.
Wondering how to make this work for your class? Visual collaboration has been such a welcome addition in class that UE students Maraike Grün and Catharina Panzer have created short videos to offer food for thought to educators around the world. Drop in to the MURAL Community to take away a quick shot of inspiration as they provide their unscripted perspectives on how one specific template can be directly applied in each video.
Read on to explore my takeaways for making the most of class time that I have learned while facing and working through many of the common teaching challenges educators have faced during the pandemic.
Connection before cognition
One key takeaway from 2020 is that pandemic conditions made it even more important to pay close attention to the emotional and social needs of students. Therefore, creating a sense of belonging and community up front provides a comfort level that can improve teamwork throughout any semester. This is also a quick, fun way to introduce your class to icebreakers as vehicles for building both participant rapport and familiarity with key software functions.
It is no secret that our brains process images much faster than words. Designing assignments to include image cues creates multiple pathways for retrieval. Students can improve both their visual and verbal communication skills while working creatively together, as seen in the immersive design activity in the video linked below.
Many teachers have seen students flourish when presenting a topic of their own choosing. When a subject is of personal interest and relevance, we are all willing to expend much larger efforts to learn about it than we would otherwise.
Giving students autonomy wherever possible on what they focus on — and how they do so within a subject area — can lead to results they remember long past the next exam. This paradigm shift, from seeing students primarily as takers of notes, polls, quizzes, etc. to makers of knowledge and co-creations — is important for students to experience in the classroom so they can implement it in their future careers.
This is my main takeaway from the pandemic experience so far. Build-in time for students to work together with the material covered. Remember that effective communication is about the receiver as much (or more) than it is about the sender. Design places students can fill with their good ideas and creative signatures. Encourage ownership of specific areas and “Thought-Art” — the use of all the communication tools at their disposal, from text to GIFs to links, to design boards that go beyond individual note-taking, and that are memorable in the way that all things we make ourselves are. Many students have been “trained” by the pandemic to sit quietly. Now is the time to coach them to flex and strengthen the thinking muscle they will need to actively address the many challenges headed their way.
Developing students’ ability to navigate, design and manage collaborative events online can become an additional benefit your course offers, whether it be in the use of icebreakers, immersive design, or segmenting methodologies.
For more in-depth inspiration on how MURAL can be applied to make your courses more interactive and enhance your students’ digital competencies in any subject watch the video below:
The future of learning is visual
The ways we can incorporate more student-centered, future-focused learning into our classrooms are limited only by our imaginations, and we all have much to gain from each other. Have you found a way visual collaboration can enhance the engagement levels, skill set, and learning outcomes not only of your best students but of every participant, whether they are in class or working from anywhere? Create and share your own class stories in the MURAL Community. Let’s learn together.