FUZHOU, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — Turning her folding table upside down, You Xiaoling rested her phone on the join of the table’s legs with the camera facing down toward an exam paper.
It was 7:00 p.m. and You, who teaches a senior class in a high school in east China’s Fujian Province, started a livestreaming session with her students to analyze the exam paper.
As schools across China are required to delay the opening of the spring semester due to the coronavirus outbreak, teachers like You are moving their classes online.
“Online streaming is the ‘trendiest’ way of teaching I’ve ever seen in my career,” teased You, who has over 22 years of teaching experience.
Her computer is too outdated for livestreaming, so she uses her mobile phone. The upside-down folding table is a creative solution for a phone holder that she invented.
Online teaching is a challenge for many teachers. To prepare her first broadcast, You and her colleagues spent an entire evening in an online chat group discussing details such as how to set up the phone, use the software and interact with students.
Yao’s folding desk is just one of many creative solutions for holding phones. A video showing teachers using daily objects such as electrical wires, calendar stands and electric fan bases to hold up their phone has been viewed over 8 million times on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
The students also welcome such change in teaching methods.
“Taking classes at home is something I wrote about in my fictional essays when I was a child, I never imagined it would come true,” said Lan Xinping, a senior student at You’s school.
Lan thinks the method is flexible as she can have a small break for snacks and water when the content is something she already understands, but it is also strict, as they need to punch in on time and hand in homework on the platform.
“More importantly, we can interact with the teacher anytime by sending real-time messages on the screen,” Lan said. “We can also review the video many times after class.”
During You’s broadcast, typing the numbers “111” on the screen is the code for “I don’t understand.”
You said teaching online requires more preparation. “As I cannot see their reactions, I want to make sure that I’ve explained everything thoroughly, and often I have to extend the class time,” she said.
Some teachers appear more relaxed and active online, especially young teachers. They ask students for likes during the broadcast just as many online celebrities do, and students are often very generous in filling the screen with thumb-ups, You said.
Teachers are usually the only ones speaking during the broadcast, and sometimes they take a pause and invite their students to chat.
“The first thing many teachers say during the chat is ‘Haven’t heard your voice for a long time, miss you guys!'” said Lan. “And most students reply on the screen with ‘We miss you too!'”