Are you planning on holding synchronous class sessions, using Web meeting tools like Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, WebEx, or Microsoft Lync (what platforms am I missing?)
Synchronous class meetings are now a necessary component of an online or blended learning program. Online synchronous classes, however, are difficult to do well. The guidelines below might help, and it will be good to hear from you about the best practices you've discovered for Web class meetings.
1. Web Classes Go Fast: The time will go much faster than you think. You will cover less teaching content than you would like. Leave plenty of time for process and for questions.
2. Tech Problems Happen: Technical issues with some participants are inevitable, and may slow things down and hinder the efficiency of the live meeting time.
3. Pay Attention to Timing: Open the Web meeting 15 minutes early to give everyone the chance to log-in (and encourage students to do so). Always start and stop the meeting on time.
4. Post an Agenda: Always post an agenda for the meeting at least a day in advance in your learning management system.
5. Take Turns: Always go down the list of all students in the meeting asking for questions or comment.
6. Stress Community and Logistics Rather Than Content: Synchronous meetings serve a very important community building and logistical purpose. Do not try to cover too much curriculum or do too much teaching during this time.
7. Be Inclusive: Successful web based synchronous class meetings include comments, questions and ideas from everyone present (if possible). 30 participants is about the maximum size possible for an inclusive online class.
8. Less Is More: When you are synthesizing the previous week or looking ahead to the next week, a simple and concise slide deck for sharing on the Web meeting is appropriate.
9. Maintain a Firm Hand: It may become necessary to (gently) cut someone off, and to make sure that the agenda is covered and that everyone has the chance for input.
10. Continuously Learn: Always make time for a postmortem with the faculty and staff about what worked well and what did not, so adjustments can be made quickly for subsequent meetings.
What would you add, take-away or change from this list?
What has been your experience running Web based synchronous classes?
Do you think that synchronous meetings will become standard for blended and online courses?
What synchronous teaching platform do you use?
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