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Status cards provide feedback in video calls

Fri Apr 16, 2021 at 03:28 PM

Teaching to black boxes can be difficult for Oakland University faculty, but for a myriad of reasons, students may not turn on their cameras during synchronous courses. To help get feedback from students who don’t use their cameras, Christopher Heard, professor in Religion and Philosophy and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Pepperdine University, created status cards that display in a students’ user video conference profile pictures and can provide instant assessments so faculty can address any concerns in real time. 

Christina Moore, virtual faculty developer in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, recently shared in a CETL newsletter that many faculty request that students turn on their cameras during synchronous learning sessions, however, two learning experts, Kelly Hogan and Vijay Smith, professors with administrative duties at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said it should not be required. 

“Video input requires a lot more internet bandwidth than attending a live session via audio alone. Plus, students may not want to share specifics about their location and set up. We should respect this choice and offer multiple ways to participate,” wrote Moore. 

Synchronous sessions can pose many issues for students with unpredictable schedules, spotty internet access, and unreliable technology, wrote Moore. However, without being able to see students, instructors are unable to determine if students are present, receiving, understanding or confused about the information being presented. 

For his classes at Pepperdine, Heard developed the status cards in response to the need for non-verbal feedback from students. 

“I created a series of ‘status cards’ that students can use to give non-vernal feedback during Zoom sessions, by assigning their profile pictures to the appropriate cards,” wrote Heard in an email to those who might use his cards. 

Students choose from a variety of status cards to display as their profile picture in the video conferencing software they are using. There are cards for yes, no, maybe, slower, repeat, help, away and more. This gives the instructors an idea of how the students are receiving the information, even without seeing body language or hearing their voices. 

In Zoom, students need to be logged in in order to change their profile picture at will. To change a Zoom profile picture during a class, the students select their own name from the participants list, click More and then click Profile. From there, they should select Change, select the picture to use and then adjust or crop the picture as necessary.  

Besides using the status cards, there are other options to engage students who aren’t able to turn on their cameras. Moore wrote that the chat feature, which is online by default, is another useful tool. 

To see the status cards designed by Head and download them, visit Head’s Google Drive folder or download a zip file. For more information on how to connect with students online or to read Tips for Synchronous Online Sessions, visit the CETL webpage