BigBlueButton as a Digital Classroom for Secondary School Students

Conducting a successful lesson in secondary school is already a challenge in normal times. To inspire a whole class of teenagers about a topic, to nourish their thirst for knowledge, and to ensure that even weaker students reach the learning goal, requires energy, endurance, and creativity.

In Corona times, the demands on schools and teachers have multiplied, as the human element - which is one of the key pillars of success - must currently take place virtually.

During the lockdown, teachers are forced to conduct lessons in the form of video conferences and must not only face the problems described above, but are also often on their own - especially when it comes to handling the technical requirements.

Here, therefore, you will find a step-by-step instruction that can serve as a guide for teachers in preparing and conducting video school lessons and digital education for classes in secondary school I and II.

  • Ensure that the technology works correctly for you (Wi-Fi, microphone, camera, etc.).
  • Familiarize yourself in advance with the functions of the selected tool in detail - for example, how does the chat work? How can I organize breakout rooms for smaller groups? How can I mute individual participants if necessary? How does the whiteboard work, and how can I save it if I want to keep what I've edited?
  • Once you are confident in using the tool, you can quickly pass on your knowledge as needed in class. You also appear more confident.
  • Make sure all students/participants receive the access information in a timely manner.
  • A few days before the first class, run a small test with the students and ask them to reflect any difficulties back to you. Fix these in advance so that you don't lose time with technical problems on the day of the actual class.
  • Depending on how experienced your class is with digital media, it may be useful to send a small handout to the participants beforehand, which describes things like login information, camera, microphone, chat function, etc. in short steps and with images.
  • Plan the content of a school lesson even more precisely than you would for a face-to-face lesson. Stick to your schedule and try not to go over time.
  • Set rules for virtual class and communicate these at the beginning of each lesson. In the digital classroom, it should also apply that the participants are not allowed to simply leave the workstation during class to go to the toilet or get something to drink. This creates too much disruption. Breaks are for these needs. Also, indications on how the chat should be used (ideally only for academic questions and not for fun comments) make it easier for the teacher to teach in a focused manner.
  • If you are actually organizing several school lessons in a row with the same class/group, consciously plan breaks at specific and communicated times and make sure they are adhered to. Perhaps you can offer joint activities during the break, such as a short workout, a quick quiz, or a round of - bigger children and young people are never too old for that.
  • Plan interactive elements in the lesson to relax. Use, for example, the poll tool of your video conferencing platform at the end of the lesson for small knowledge checks. Announce this calmly at the beginning of the lesson, which could give you greater attention from the students during the lesson.
  • Before ending the lesson, save the whiteboard if necessary.
  • Finally, make available in class any materials used or discussed through upload/download.
  • In your conclusion, think about a brief summary and clearly state expectations for homework/preparation for the next unit and/or class.