Skip to content

Tech Tips for Teachers: Irene Rodriguez on SpatialChat for Group Work

Tech Tips for TeachersIrene Rodriguez taught English as a Second Language in Mexico for 30 years before becoming a Spanish teacher.  She joined ICLS three year ago to teach FSI, PAHO, and evening group classes.

Irene was using Zoom as her primary video conferencing tool for her PAHO class. While Zoom met her teaching needs, she noticed that she lost precious class time setting up and then visiting break-out rooms. She was often only able to spend a few minutes in each room and felt that she could not assist group members as promptly as she wanted. She decided to switch to SpatialChat for her group activities.

SpatialChat is a video conferencing program based on audio proximity. Users can move around on a virtual background. As they get closer to a group of classmates, they can hear their conversations, and as they move away, the conversation fades out.

Tech Tips for Teachers

Image 1: Pair work in SpatialChat

Sp  turned out to be an effective solution. Students now work in groups in various corners of the virtual room. Irene commented that, “In seconds, you can just move from one group to another. You can address the whole class, one group, or even just one student individually.”

In addition to small group discussion or pair work, Irene asks her students to move around the room to collect information about the weather, what they did on the weekend, or what information they gathered from a video they watched collectively.

While ICLS has not formally surveyed the class yet, she noticed that they are particularly engaged when working in SpatialChat and seem to enjoy the various activities she has designed for them.

SpatialChat is not a Zoom replacement but a complementary tool to facilitate group and pair work. Irene usually spends the first 20 minutes of her class in SpatialChat, and then the class moves back to Zoom for the rest of the time. When asked whether the students minded using two different tools, she said they didn’t. She even commented that, “In fact, they get there before I do!”

If you’re interested in piloting SpatialChat, please check with your program coordinator to make sure it’s ok. To create your account visit the SpatialChat homepage and select Try for Free. Here is a detailed handout and a five-minute video orientation to SpatialChat. 

Learn more about using teacher tools online (including ChatGPT for language teachers) at our Teacher PD tech workshops.

Start Your Language Adventure Today!

Let's talk!

Learn More

Contact us today to discuss your language-learning needs!