With the recent and urgent shift for dance practitioners (teachers in particular) to move their work online, I have been leading sessions on interactive Zoom pedagogy to support this transition. These sessions give participants the experience of my interactive online classroom where I model approaches that I have developed in the higher education sector over the past year. (A big shout out to Luke Kitchens who has been driving this learning journey!)

While teaching online is not the same as face-to-face (particularly with physical forms like dance), Zoom can be bent to a teacher’s pedagogical will and can be a space for social and interactive modes of learning.

A few of my favourite things

1. Breakout Rooms

I love empowering dancers to use their knowledge and explore their creativity. In the dance studio I often facilitate peer-to-peer feedback and leave space in choreographic sequences for dancers to create something of their own in groups. Breakout Rooms enable small group work with privacy from the rest of the class. The teacher (‘Host’) can visit (‘Join’) each group to check on progress and the groups can call the teacher over (‘Ask for Help’).

*Breakout Rooms is an Advanced Setting that needs to be activated in your Zoom account (log into www.zoom.us).

2. Turn taking

When the whole class is in the main Zoom room people tend to be very quiet. This is great if you want the class to follow what you’re demonstrating but is deflating if you’re trying initiate a conversation. This where the very simple, yet effective method of turn taking comes in. The teacher nominates the first person to speak. When the speaker is finished they nominate the next person. Turn taking is particularly effective after small group conversations in Breakout Rooms.

3. Chat

I love how a Zoom class can have two dialogues going simultaneously: the video/audio and the typed chat conversations. Chat enables dancers to add to the main dialogue without interrupting it’s natural flow. It’s somewhere where they can ask their questions, post links to related content and, if Private Chat is enabled, quietly say hi to their friends.

Safe dance practice

While I am very passionate about interactive pedagogy, I consider it to be a bonus in classes and something to build towards over time. Other aspects of online dance teaching are more important. The big one is safe dance practice. Here are some resources on safe dance practice in online spaces:

Interactive Zoom pedagogy sessions delivered with: