Build a variety of approaches into your main asynchronous course foundation
- Online classes can be more than discussion boards and screencasts. Research the variety of ways to use ‘lower bandwidth’ activities to fully involve all students.
Use synchronous sessions to support community building and individualized feedback
Synchronous sessions are best used to personalize a largely asynchronous learning experience. They are less effective for lecture-style content instruction because of access barriers. Community and connection-building approaches to synchronous sessions include:
- Feedback for small group projects
- 1:1 meetings and office hours (use the waiting room feature for students who arrive early)
- Q&A sessions around problem sets or specific content
- Review sessions for key assignments and assessments
- Weekly summary session to ‘tie up’ the week—what was learned, what questions remain, sharing strategies and ‘aha’ moments
- Whole class check-in meetings for open discussion
Design synchronous sessions to promote engagement from all students
- Ask students to complete problems or write down questions to bring to synchronous sessions; responses can be shared on a group document beforehand.
- If you have a large class, use breakout rooms to provide small group discussion spaces.
- At the beginning of a session, ask a short question—it can be silly or course-focused—and have students vote using polling features. Share your screen and have a short warm-up available as students enter the space.
- Remember to record sessions and upload captioned recordings for students who cannot attend.
- Looking for ways to make synchronous sessions more lively? This Faculty Focus piece offers nine different ways to run a synchronous session with active (dare we even say fun?) learning.
- Check out “Best Practices for Synchronous Sessions” from Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies for more tips and strategies