How to Teach Today's Most In Demand Soft Skills in a Virtual Class

October 21, 2020

In last week’s blog, The Top Soft Skills Recruiters Are Looking For, Especially During COVID, we spoke about some of the top soft skills which have become in demand as a result of the pandemic. A great way to learn these skills are through experience, but sometimes the experience we are looking for isn’t always available to us. This is why it can be extremely beneficial to implement the usage of important soft skills into school curriculum. Here are some methods in which professors can create opportunities for their students to build these key soft skills while learning continues to take place in a virtual environment:


Communication

There are two sides to communication: one is communicating and the other is actively listening to the other party. Being able to balance listening and actively communicating is essential for any good conversation. 

Open communication in the classroom, whether it be through questions or comments, is a good way to gauge if the student understands what their professor is teaching. Rather than lecture style lessons, professors can encourage questions and discussions amongst students to allow them to understand the material better and practice communicating with others. In a virtual classroom, these opportunities may take the form of a question period at the end of a lecture of breakout groups.

These active discussions amongst classmates can also help develop their public speaking abilities. When a student is contributing to a conversation, they are essentially speaking in front of an audience whether it is virtual or in-person, which is comprised of their peers. Continuous engagement starting with a smaller group can give students the opportunity to build up their confidence and experiment with their vocabulary. 

Focusing more on written communication, the use of peer revisions provides the opportunity for students to help each other improve. Virtually, students can share their work through online documents or pictures of their work. Having students give feedback and advice for each others’ written work can also improve skills beyond just written communication. Giving feedback can greatly help with your revision skills, attention to detail, and even vocabulary. Being the one to receive the feedback can help provide you with a new perspective, learning how to positively receive criticism, and break bad writing habits.


Adaptability and Flexibility

Throughout their entire educational journey, students have been taught to follow routines. They are given schedules to follow and told what is to be expected in future classes throughout a given year, semester, or period. However, this can have a negative effect on the response time of students when faced with sudden change. While schools will continue to maintain their natural routine to keep things organized, here is a small change professors can make inside the classroom to keep students thinking critically. 

One way to improve students’ ability to adapt is to switch up the lecture format every class and practice different styles of teaching. While one class can purely be based around a discussion on a certain topic, another can be a challenge or a simulation of a real-life problem where students will have to apply their knowledge. Switching up class formats throughout the term can help keep students on their toes so they don’t get too comfortable with a given teaching style or environment.


Emotional Intelligence

Understanding one’s own feelings and the feelings of others can greatly contribute to the development of several other skills. A big part in the learning process and forming an understanding of the bigger picture is reflection. Looking back at what you did or accomplished, what went wrong, what went right, and how it made you feel. 

In the classroom, one way to encourage the development of your emotional intelligence is by giving students the opportunity to reflect after they have completed a task. Whether this be a large project done with other students, or a small assignment which they did individually. Reflecting on what was done can help for future growth and improve their emotional intelligence. Sharing these reflections with your peers can promote conversation about how each student felt and giving them the chance to understand the experiences of others.

Another way to give students an opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence is by purposely placing them into a situation where conflict may arise. A good way to do this could be through team work. Understanding how to collaborate with others and manage a team while keeping everyone in agreement can build emotional intelligence which is needed for good team work and leadership.


Building Skills Beyond the Classroom

While students still have the opportunity to learn soft skills in their online classes, COVID-19 has limited the opportunities given to students to build up their skills. This is why it is vital for professors to find new opportunities for students to continue putting their skills to practice. To ensure students are prepared for life post-graduation, we must ensure that virtual learning does not mean lost opportunities.

At Riipen, we have made it our goal to assist professors in this mission. By offering projects with real company’s embedded directly into your existing course curriculum, Riipen helps students to build up the skills they need to be work-ready upon graduation. 

Riipen is a worldwide marketplace that connects companies with educators and students to complete work-integrated learning experiences. If you are interested in learning more and how Riipen can help improve your class, visit our website or contact our team at sales@riipen.com to get started. 


By: Austin Gumbs