Updated: Nov 3, 2022
As essential workers, teachers know we must all carry on the daily battle of trying to help kids learn. Teaching during the pandemic was challenging and forced us to tap into our creative mind and forced us all to adapt our traditional teaching styles to the new online environment. We learned how to use new technologies like Zoom, Google Meet, and MS teams. We had to find ways to have students create and submit work that they could do with marginal wifi on many times inferior devices. Some who had to do all their work on their phone, because that was the best option they had. Can you imagine typing an essay on your phone? Adaptation occurred for us teachers and also required students to adapt. Some continued to excel, fighting through the difficulties of the pandemic, while others were casualties of the process, succumbing to the loneliness, depression, and social-emotional drain that robbed them of some of the most important times of their young lives.
As this new year begins, we have moved out of lockdown and the online learning environment back to a more familiar ground and back into the classroom. Though the time in the recent past was challenging, I have discovered some essential applications that I have brought into the virtual business environment during the pandemic that improved the way I teach and will continue to be used as we emerge from this restrictive environment. I wanted to share a couple of essential applications with you that made my job so much easier and integrate well in the VE classroom and online.
If you visit Slack’s website, you will find this definition of the application. “Slack is a messaging app for business that connects people to the information they need. By bringing people together to work as one unified team, Slack transforms the way organizations communicate.” For years VE teachers have been encouraged to join Slack and be part of the national group, to share best practices and help each other become better teachers. The app is free for the basic application and can be used on both computers and mobile devices. In 2019, Slack reported more than 10 million daily active users from more than 600,000 organizations, located in more than 150 countries.
Useful Features of Slack: The basic program is free and easy to join and set up. It is set up into channels (like TV channels) that can be dedicated for groups within the virtual company. The posting history is never deleted, so people who join a channel can see all the messages from the start of that channel. The app allows you to have group and private messaging. It allows for files to be linked to messages and it syncs with Google accounts.
Classroom Application of Slack: For my VE companies Slack has been a tool they use to collaborate and communicate with each other. I make it a requirement that all students download the app on their phones and I download the app on the classroom computers. We use it as a messaging app for the entire class and create department channels where teams can share files, get options on work, and can communicate without sharing any personal information beyond their username.
Management of a virtual business classroom requires years of practice. Trello is free software that allows your student to work in a closed, collaborative project-based environment online. One of the challenges of teaching VE is the craziness of so many things happening at once. For new teachers, this can be overwhelming. Unlike a traditional academic class where everyone in the class is always doing the same thing at the same time, in the virtual business environment, you could have the students working on 20-30 different projects or tasks all at the same time. In this work-to-learn model, students need to take ownership of their learning and work independently or in small teams. Trello checks every box when it comes to helping create a streamlined VE classroom and provides the students with everything they need to get work done.
Useful Features of Trello: The basic program is free and easy to join and set up. Groups are set up as a board (like a bulletin board in your classroom). The free program allows you to have 10 boards. On each board, you can create an unlimited number of lists and on those lists, you add an unlimited number of cards (kind of like post-it notes). The students can move cards from one list to another list and from one board to another. On the back of the cards, you can control the color, due date, directions, create a checklist for students to follow, and can have active links to files, websites, and video to supplement the tasks. The program syncs with Slack
Classroom Application of Trello: For my VE companies Trello has been a game-changer. I set the boards up by department and one for me called “Chairman of the Board”. You could also use extra boards for Business Plan teams or a Fundraising Group in your company. When you open a board you can create lists. My company lists include: Tasks, Working On, Needs Revision, Send to Chairman, and Past Due. Once a list has been created you can add cards. This is where the tasks I give the departments are created. When you open the card it allows for you to build out one complete assignment for the department with tile, due date, complete directions, I include points that can be earned, you can add a sequential checklist for students to check off as they move step by step through the task. I require my students to attach evidence of their work to the card and that can be achieved through uploading or linking a file. What the video presentation I recorded demonstrating the use of Trello in the the VE company environment.
Video Presentation on How to use Trello in the VE classroom Environment