Hrach agrees. “Online education has typically been much more oriented toward asynchronous activities; only since the pandemic have we been relying so heavily on virtual meetings,” she says. “That may ease up as teachers figure out how to make better use of tools and resources.”
And even while lockdowns continue, or in the case of classes that are lecture-based, it’s possible to give students opportunities to move. Hrach suggests instituting movement breaks, which students of any age—or ability—can benefit from. “There’s a lot of variation in types of human mobility, assisted and unassisted, temporary and permanent,” she points out. “Activities should be designed with a variety of ways to participate. This semester, I began some of my virtual classes with chair yoga and breathing meditations. Students really seemed to appreciate these opportunities to pay attention to their bodies.”
Hrach also suggests sending students on a solo field trip, with instructions to report their findings to the class via a discussion board, whether photo, audio or video. Teachers can also assign podcasts, with explicit directions to listen while taking a walk.
For Syed, a podcasting assignment was a bright spot this past semester. Plus, she says, “our instructor would always have a little scavenger hunt for in-class assignments, which made us actually get out of the house and interact with other people from our neighbourhoods.” Breaking free of traditional methods like “posting the slides or the Zoom lecture,” she adds, “would be very useful, because it would intrigue a student’s mind.”