Low-Tech Options for Virtual Learning - Coffee Break Follow up

On Wednesday, we had a great discussion about low-tech options for learning. We addressed the following questions on this Jamboard:

  • How do you overcome connectivity issues in a virtual environment?
  • How do you address the different types of technology students use during a virtual class?
  • How do you choose EdTech tools for the virtual environment?
  • What are the best low-tech activity options for a virtual environment?


Let's keep the conversation going! Please share your answers to these important questions!


Hi, all!

I really appreciate all the great information shared and will certainly include it in the professional development we bring to Massachusetts.

I'm thinking about the precursor to the third bullet, selecting tools, and would love to know what you use to assess the digital skills and digital literacy of beginner ELLs. Northstar's assessments are available in Spanish, which is wonderful, but speakers of other languages need something else.

Thanks in advance!




I think it would be good to take another look at what we do to address/accommodate low bandwidth and compare it with the quadrant chart that you shared (https://www.iddblog.org/videoconferencing-alternatives-how-low-bandwidth-teaching-will-save-us-all/). Is what we do really low bandwidth?

One thing I note is e-mail in the low-bandwidth/low-immediacy quadrant. Many students, and this is true of traditional students as well as adult learners, are not using e-mail. How are folks addressing that? Are we shifting to texting, which is low-bandwidth/high-immediacy? Using WhatsApp or GoogleChat/Spaces?

---Amy West

I couldn't make the discussion that you referenced, unfortunately,  but I think about this a lot as someone who is designing curriculum for online classes that include both an LMS and Zoom components. 

There are some wonderful low-tech options for virtual learning, but these don't always play nice with video conferencing when someone is using a phone or tablet to connect to class. When I taught beginning literacy on Zoom at the beginning of the COVID shutdown, many of my students would join the class Zoom using their phones. Great! They showed up! However, they couldn't easily navigate from Zoom to the web browser to use some of the websites that I would share in the chat. So much for that Kahoot. That class was a turning point for me in how I approach online learning synchronously and asynchronously. I have to fight my urge to try the new, fun tech tool and now focus on accessibility by laptop, phone, or tablet in high and low bandwidth environments. 

I'm curious how others approach the tension between innovation and access. I feel like I must choose one or the other many times, but I think that may be coming from a flawed perspective.

I don't have an answer, but I have another question. I'm trying to teach  foundational English classes to people who all live in the same apartment complexes (maybe 6-10 people at a time per apt. complex)  Newcomers, maybe French or African languages. All have phones and use WhatsApp. 

I've done a lot of tutoring with 1 or 2 people using phones or laptops and WhatsApp or Zoom or Google (+ Jamboard)*. However, there are no laptops.   * Yeah, I know that's going to end in a year.)

 I made a WhatsApp group, but with multiple users in the same room, the echo effect is terrible.  The alternative is to try WhatsApp on one guy's phone and others do acrobatics to all see the screen. Then I send links to the WhatsApp group (Languageguide, Bow Valley College Readers, and PDFs I made from the Jamboards we developed in the course of the class.) Very clunky. 

Cheapest and easiest but effective alternative?  Headphones?  Will that let me do WhatsApp group simultaneously without echo?  Alternately, what if apartment complexes have conference rooms and would let us get big screens for the wall that we could cast from one guy's phone?  

We have multiple pockets of newcomers around the city, some within walking distance of libraries.  Others not. We might be able to get a bit of funding for supplies if I can justify it and predict that it'll work.