In this blog, Dan gives five tips for teaching Business Studies online and explains how you can make the most of technology to engage your students.
Teaching business studies online can be as good as teaching in the classroom. Why? Because you have tools to use which are just as effective as being face-to-face. Of course, face-to-face teaching is powerful. However, these five tools might more than compensate for being in separate locations.
Working on shared files is a powerful method of collaborative learning. Look at Google Sheets for example. Sheets is the Google version of Excel and contains all of the same whizzes and bangs.
Business studies requires students to use simple maths to interpret what’s happened, what’s happening and what’s going to happen. Students often find this the most challenging aspect of the course.
With collaborative spreadsheets, you can easily play around with numbers, cancel mistakes and reapply formula quickly and effectively. They can experiment with numbers. You can leave some blanks. You can delete errors quickly and get them to rethink. All of this is done in real time.
As you work through this together, they will become comfortable with calculations and won’t be reaching for their phone (and all the distractions that brings) to mess about with the numbers.
Learning should be about discovery. If you find a student is engaged with a topic, you can go off-piste and dig down into a topic more quickly.
Website flying allows you to do that. Put up a short business article. Ask them to read a paragraph or two. Then pose some questions, perhaps just about the consequences of an action or a particular word.
If the students starts to develop an answer, ask them something more. You can now jump to a new web page. A little bit of your own research beforehand should give you pages ready to link to.
Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. You are opening up the possibilities. As the student is now engaged, you have some space to explore.
Don’t fly for too long. You’ve got other things to cover. And don’t go to definition sites. “Flying” is about possibilities, not ends.
In a similar vein, you can “fry” a company. That means looking at a story about a company from one news agency and then comparing it with the same story from another agency. Quickly bounce between the two (or even three) to see if the commentators are giving a different angle.
It’s even better if the website article has “comments” at the bottom. Make sure you’ve read through a number of them beforehand because they can go off topic. However, they are excellent for bringing in the stakeholder aspect.
Remember, many news stories about companies are generated by their PR companies. The comments are not. See if you can “fry” a company.
Business sense is not common sense. Students need to write showing evidence of their study around a specific topic.
Set a question and then get them to sketch out a few notes on a piece of paper. This is a very rough plan of what they will write. I get them to put that up to the screen, screenshot it and then put it into the Google Doc we are working on.
You might give them a nudge or two at this stage. However, pick out a good point that they’ve made and get them to write.
I find two sentences is enough. Then, duplicate that work below and help them edit it so it looks better.
Finally, “cut” it, and get them to write it out again. You can then paste it back in to see how close they are. It doesn’t matter if it’s not verbatim. It’s how they structure their sentences, use the right language and explain the connections that matters.
I wish I did know ALL the definitions in business studies, but I don’t. And with the new specifications, there are new topics which are unfamiliar.
Luckily, I don’t need to rote learn them for the exam, though obviously I need to understand what they mean.
If you have to struggle or prevaricate when you can’t quite remember something, it doesn’t help the flow of the lesson. Also, when you are doing questions, you don’t want to be looking back at the answer sheet.
The good news is that you can have the information in a different window, or look up the definition so it appears in front of you.
It’s not cheating. You are more concerned with whether they can learn, retain and transfer that knowledge.
Use technology to make your teaching flow more effective.