Yeah, it's so filthy hard to keep the attention span of Gen Zs. They compete with goldfishes at times in that regard - which is exactly why you can be smarter than them at this one. One sure way to do that is through Online Collaborative Tools and a Reward-Based System through quizzes.
Firsly, get your video conferencing skills on point:
1. Good lighting of the place 2. A plain background as much as possible 3. Camera centered on you
4. Check for best sound, your audio is important. Students are complaining the most about audio quality. Expense out a good microphone from work.
If you are pre-recording classes, you can always crop out parts of the video you don't want to show. Even the tiniest bit (one second long) can be cropped out. You can even refine your video so it doesn't have the waiting time, pausing time, blank times, thinking times - like you can make it such that you're always doing the talking.
The advantage of having classes recorded is that students can rewind and follow at their own pace. Check the most common complaints I received from students:
"Teachers go too quickly with the topics, online classes have become an opportunity for them to finish off the syllabus."
"They just don't pay heed to the pace. "
You can also follow inspiration from many teachers across the globe and put your own teaching sessions on YouTube, Udemy, and Skillshare and only share the links privately to your students if you wish. Not all classes have to be live when teaching online.
Pro tip: What should be live are discussion classes, doubt classes, clarification classes.
Online Collaborative Tools
Miroboard - Miro's infinitely zoomable canvas and web whiteboard enables you to work the way you want to. I cannot recommend this one enough. Join for free!
Get hands-on right away for instant collaboration, where you can brainstorm, share ideas and manage projects without signing-up. Your students join onboard for free too and ask them questions over a Zoom video call and they can directly type in their answers. Watch how I use the Miroboard for one of my masterclasses here.
Reward-Based System through quizzes
Make your class interactive by designing quizzes and tests and have your students join in real time for a fun session.
Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that brings engagement and fun to 1+ billion players every year at school, at work, and at home. Sign up for free!
Tricks to use to engage your Gen Z students
Memes Teachers should include memes in their slides. Most topics even for A levels have a lot of memes already available if you just google them. For example, google "Physics gravitation memes". Then click images. Then select what you find helpful for your class.
Separate them into Breakout rooms for discussions
There is something in Zoom called "room". There can be a discussion period during each class where the teacher divides the class into rooms for the students to get involved in discussions among themselves. This feature is also available on Ms Teams. Have a quick YouTube search to understand how to use this feature.
Pro tip from Ryan - one of our contributors: "For elder students, I think that most of the class time should be used for discussion purposes. Teachers can send lecture videos/readings before class.
Use Emoji reactions
There is something in most video conferencing softwares now that allow students to "react" using heart emojis and thumbs up emojis. Ask questions and then ask them to react which of the 2 multiple choice answers they think is correct. Engage!!
Research YouTube video snippets
Especially for more complex concepts, spend time researching YouTube videos that show animations so that students can actually see the processes involved. For physics, one such resource is the YouTube channel "Physics videos by Eugene Khutoryansky". The animations are epic and make you relax.
Ask your students to teach you
Teachers can occasionally tell their students to make short video presentations and then upload these to Google Classroom. This will ensure that the students have understood the topics well enough. Yes, some students don't want to show their faces. They can always voice over a small recording they make explaining what they understood.
Some words of wisdom from Yasser, another one of our contributors:
"One thing I've noticed is that when professors are doing online classes they are merely converting their in-person classes into online format, keeping mostly everything the same. That's what I've noticed when university courses were being converted to online courses last year.
Thing is if courses were to be made in online format they don't have to follow the parameters set by in-person classes. One example is there is no need to make 1 hour long lectures - these can be broken down into shorter videos.
I think the best online courses would totally discard the norms set by in-person classes and rather start over anew with structures better suited for an online environment and making full use of all the resources at hand."
Gen Z students are thirsting for their teachers to adopt technology in a fun way. Don't be boring.