A better Virtual Classroom experience with breakout rooms should be every Teacher’s favourite.

by Oluwatoni Peters

Virtual classroom is the new learning process for teachers and students and everyone is trying to adapt to this system of learning. Teachers are researching better methods to engage the students, while students themselves want more interactive class sessions to be inclusive of teachers and their peers. Remote learning has largely impaired socializing and teaching methods.

Online learning concept. Student, teacher and group. Distance education vector

A physical breakout room is a room that is used to divide a large group into smaller groups with the aim of fostering interactions among participants and between facilitator and participants. So, breakout rooms can be added to virtual learning platforms connected with video conferencing apps to make better teaching experience.

A virtual breakout room is a sub-room that is used to make a large group smaller to collaborate and share ideas. It shares the same purpose as a physical breakout room, and this can help us achieve virtual interaction to improve online classrooms experience.

The inclusion of the breakout rooms feature to our online learning classes can be what teachers and students need to improve productivity of lessons and students in class. Breakout rooms can be used to achieve different interactive classroom goals.
Therefore, for virtual breakout rooms to achieve learning goals, the right set of tools has to be used to achieve the goal of the breakout rooms.

Why should I use a breakout room?

1. At the commencement of online classes, teachers are skeptical about how their communication process with children will be affected through virtual learning.

2. Online class started, students have their microphones on mute, video turned off, while the lesson is taught, but the performance index for learning was low.

3. Teachers can’t connect with the children’s emotions, if the children understand the class? Liked the class? Or how to assign group task?

4. Activities in breakout rooms also serve as a break from the main class and re-engages students and decreases boredom.

Even more so, the need for social and emotional learning (SEL) has become apparent with the pandemic and remote learning.

Breakout rooms’ offers teachers and facilitators control over room settings, while enhancing positive interaction among students and teachers if used properly.

How to set up a breakout room?

● Set up rooms in advance and write an info concerning each room so students are aware of the details.

● Create rooms with labels.
● Set a timer for the room.
● Set the number of participants for each room.
● Determine room control settings like camera always on and mics unmute.
● Practice with the breakout room technology until you are confident and comfortable with the tool.

Tips for a successful breakout room

1. Establish the purpose of the breakout rooms and communicate to the students why you believe the room should be used.

2. Plan activities for students to work on in breakout room (activities may be different from the face-to-face tutorial).

3. Provide clear guidance and all necessary tools (e.g., online whiteboard, link to Google doc, discussion questions, etc.) to students to complete activities.

4. Create as many breakout rooms as are needed for your class activities.

5. Number of students in groups or rooms should be limited, so as to ensure small groups.

6. Each member of a group must be assigned a role. The activities must be such that requires every member contributes to complete the task.

7. Take reviews or feedback from students if the room achieves its purpose. And how to improve reviews or feedback using rooms.

Steps to get the most out of breakout room activities

● Individual tasks that complete the overall task for the group should be assigned to each student. This will ensure that time is purposefully spent when students enter breakout rooms.

● Group tasks with connection to individual tasks help build a connection and encourage students to synthesize their ideas. This strategy helps foster meaningful discussions and students focus on listening and speaking to each other about their tasks instead of just focusing on finishing the work.

● Teacher interaction on one-on-one basis with students from these small groups will help the teacher understand what is lacking and what needs improvement, or continuous improvement on what is working well.

Breakout room is a good technology to be added to virtual classrooms, as it will greatly improve learning for students and teaching experience for class instructors. It is your turn to explore this tool as a teacher, be confident in the classroom!

Image source: Pinterest and facaultyfocus.com

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1 comment

Andy Akhigbe May 13, 2021 - 12:56 pm

This is a must for teachers wishing to implement both virtual and offline learning environments.

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