Cathedral teachers have been preparing for a variety of scenarios this fall and adopting new technologies to maximize the teaching and learning experience–whether it be through in-person instruction, telepresence, or distance learning. One tool they are moving toward, especially in the Lower School, is the creation of virtual classrooms—online visual representations of physical classrooms.
With the goal of becoming a friendly and familiar online space, the virtual classroom also manages the teaching and learning process. By extension, these sites are expressions of a teacher’s personality and teaching style. As Cathedral’s Educational Technology Integrator Daniel Lauter explained, “As we move into new realms of distance, hybrid and flipped classroom learning, apps and digital assets can assist teachers in the creative engagement of students. Teachers can create a digital space that resembles their classroom and decorate that space with a cartoon avatar of themselves, furniture, bookshelves, 3D-designed augmented-reality media, and other interior design. Objects in the virtual classroom become hyperlinks to relevant projects and resources such as websites, videos, audio recordings, and virtual museums. They are limited only by the teacher’s imagination. Virtual classrooms can also make great project-based learning assignments for students."
Drawing inspiration from the virtual classroom movement, fourth-grade teacher Benjamin Jacoff provided guidance this summer to his Lower School colleagues as they embarked on creating homeroom specific webpages. “Being the brilliant, creative, and hard-working teachers that they are, Lower School faculty saw the homeroom webpages as great tools to guide students through the year, keep them organized, help them share their work, and build a sense of classroom community, whether we were in-person or in distance learning,” explained Mr. Jacoff. “These websites are useful: they contain zoom-embedded schedules to allow students to quickly and independently navigate their school day, links to important resources, key educational apps, and gallery spaces to showcase student work, but they are also fun!” he added.
A lot of work went into the design and functionality of the Lower School homeroom websites. We look forward to seeing how these pages continue to blossom in functionality and serve as a fun and useful resource for both students and parents. Mr. Jacoff reports that early traffic to the websites indicates they are quite popular.