“Ideas for Virtual Learning and Teaching,” Ideas for Virtual Learning and Teaching (2020)
“Ideas for Virtual Learning and Teaching,” Ideas for Virtual Learning and Teaching
If you’re wondering how to have a successful virtual quorum or class meeting, the following ideas and suggestions can help. There may be other things you can try that will work even better in your circumstances. As you prayerfully consider the needs of the members you serve, the Spirit will guide you to effective ways to meet those needs. Remember, you have been called by God to teach His children and invite them to come unto Christ.
The principles of powerful gospel learning and teaching remain unchanged, whether we are meeting in person or virtually:
Love those you teach. Many people are feeling isolated right now, especially from other Church members as they’ve been away from regular meetings. Your virtual meeting or class is an opportunity to help them feel, once again, “fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7) at a time when that fellowship is especially needed. Ponder ways you can help others feel loved and supported.
Teach by the Spirit. People are likely to join a virtual class or meeting for the same reasons they come to church—to be spiritually fed. The Holy Ghost can touch their hearts and provide a spiritual experience, even in a virtual setting. Consider how you can contribute to a spiritual environment, through your personal preparation beforehand and throughout your time together.
Teach the doctrine. Of course, the Spirit is most likely to testify when true doctrine is being taught. This is true regardless of the setting of your class or meeting. Teaching the doctrine can be especially powerful when learners can see how the doctrine is relevant to their lives.
Invite diligent learning. Because of the limitations of meeting virtually, it may be tempting to simply give a presentation, with limited interaction among participants. But this approach could actually inhibit learning. Continue to encourage learners to read assigned scriptures or conference messages in advance. Ask inspired questions that allow learners to share their insights and experiences—just as you would in person. Explore ways to allow “all [to] be edified of all” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:122).
For more about these principles, see Teaching in the Savior’s Way (2016).
As you develop a plan to teach your virtual class or meeting, consider how you can support home-centered gospel learning. Most of the activity ideas suggested in Come, Follow Me—including those that invite learners to share thoughts and insights from their study at home—can be adapted for use in a virtual class or meeting.
Here are some additional ideas to encourage learners to participate:
Invite class or quorum members ahead of time to come prepared to share something they learned from the assigned scriptures or conference message. You could also extend this invitation to specific people. You might try questions like these:
What did you learn this week that you feel others need to know?
What verses of scripture did you mark or annotate? Why?
What did you feel inspired to do this week because of what you studied?
What did you find that strengthened your faith in Jesus Christ?
In general, smaller groups make it easier for more people to make comments, ask questions, and participate in other ways. Consider breaking a large Sunday School class, for example, into smaller classes. Each one could have a different teacher or group leader. Teachers and leaders could counsel together about the best way to do this.
Show a picture or short video (some programs allow you to share what’s on your screen with other participants). Invite members to talk about how it relates to the scripture passages or conference message you are discussing.
Think of ways you can take advantage of learners attending the class or meeting from their homes. For example, you could invite members to find an object in their home that relates to the assigned scripture passage or conference talk. Ask them to share how the object relates.
Many virtual meeting programs allow participants to type questions or comments in a chat window. They may also allow participants to virtually raise their hands. Let learners know about these features. You may want to assign someone to watch for comments in the chat or raised hands so that you can focus your attention on the discussion. Try not to let chat comments or raised hands go unacknowledged.
Before your class or meeting, spend some time getting familiar with the technology you’ll be using (possible meeting platforms include Zoom, Webex, LogMeIn, Google Hangouts or Meet, and Microsoft Teams). Explore some of its features. Consider holding a “test” meeting with family members or friends.
Send the meeting link, along with any special instructions, to class members in advance. If you have class members that have special learning needs, discuss with them or their parents how you can help meet their needs in a virtual setting.
Most stakes have an assistant technology specialist. There might also be members in your ward who have experience with virtual meetings. Ask for their advice or guidance. (If you are a ward or stake leader, consider giving at least one person the specific assignment to be available to give teachers and members help with technology.)
If possible, find a quiet place to hold your meeting. Noises in the background can be distracting. Encourage learners to do the same or to keep their microphones muted if they’re not speaking.
If possible, keep your camera on so that learners can see your face. Invite (but don’t require) learners to turn their cameras on too. This can help create the spirit of unity and mutual support that we all need during difficult times.