In this Zoom class example, PGDE pre-service teachers were asked to apply their understanding of Special Education Needs (SEN) using designed activities in Nearpod, a common e-learning tool in schools, to share and to teach their peers. In this Collaborative Lesson Inquiry (CLI) class, students had to design activities that elicited peer ideas, identify and discuss SEN problems, propose solutions to deal with the dilemmas, and design activities to collect peer feedback. The sharing provided students with an authentic experience of applying education theories in practice and required them to demonstrate the use of teacher questioning and dialogic prompts in their Nearpod Zoom session.
Enhancing theory-practice integration using classroom dilemma
After the students had learnt about the SEN topic in the Education Inquiry (EI) class, they were asked to prepare a group sharing in the CLI session on the various dilemmas they encountered when handling SEN students in the authentic contexts. The preparatory task allowed students to reflect on what they had learnt about SEN in Educational Inquiry and gave them the autonomy to share their knowledge and ideas with their peers.
The three student groups (Chemistry, Biology, Physics) each prepared a Nearpod session that included sequenced activities; other groups completed the Nearpod activities, with the leading groups asking questions to facilitate their peers’ understanding – all of this was conducted within the Zoom class environment (and recorded to be revisited at a later time)
The presenting group elicited peer responses and then presented proposed solutions for the classroom dilemmas, with further discussion.
Students developing knowledge and skills for future teaching
1. Eliciting peer ideas as assessment for learning (peers writing on Nearpod)
2. Designing different activities to enhance cognitive engagement
3. Creating linkage between knowledge for meaningful learning
4. Developing skills in using e-learning applications (e.g., Nearpod) when conducting teaching students were given opportunities to explore education applications and use them in a synchronized online setting.
Students were found to be highly motivated in this Zoom class, as they were not only sharing group PowerPoints but also acting as teachers; they asked questions of their peers, responded to their answers, and provided feedback. Although the learning activities were conducted online in small-group peer settings, each student group had to plan the whole learning activity sequence, ask questions and provide feedback, deal with wait times and silence, summarize key points, and generally help others learn more about SEN. This Zoom example suggests the possibility of micro-teaching and online practicum for practice, and that Zoom classrooms may be used to help students gain experience and prepare them for teaching in real classrooms.