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Planning Synchronous Learning Activities

As classroom instruction moves increasingly online, it's critical to explore the differences between on-ground and virtual modalities. The primary challenge online is to achieve the right mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. A thoughtful combination of lecture, demonstration, and performance, along with individual and group exercises - combine to enrich the student experience and learning outcomes. This post provides a high-level outline of best practices and general guidelines designed to assist in the translation of on ground to a virtual learning environment.

As classroom instruction moves increasingly online, it's critical to explore the differences between on-ground and virtual modalities. The primary challenge online is to achieve the right mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. A thoughtful combination of lecture, demonstration, and performance, along with individual and group exercises - combine to enrich the student experience and learning outcomes. This post provides a high-level outline of best practices and general guidelines designed to assist in the translation of on ground to a virtual learning environment.

Ground Rules

  • Be prepared for synchronous sessions by having access to and properly set up computer equipment, USB headphones/microphone for each session.
  • Be open minded and share your ideas as well as listen to ideas that others share, even at times they be difficult advice. 
  • Be respectful, honest, open while interacting with other participants.
  • Develop and communicate an attendance policy aligned with university policies. 
  • Encourage meaningful participation; Credits for students’ significant discussion contributions.

Best Practices

  • Provide recording of synchronous sessions. 
  • Ask for relevant and significant comments, give credits for the significant comments.  
  • Repeat twice in the same week at different times (morning/evening).

Mechanical Practices 

  • In the class, make the session a “Recommended Activity,” and provide the instructions for joining, as well as the PowerPoint deck for the chat. 
  • A sample outline for 60-min session could be: 
  • 10 min. Introduction
  • 40 min Content/Questions
  • 10 min Wrap-up, Questions, and/or Next Steps.
  • Consider crediting students with two substantial posts and one of three online posting days for participating. Consider using a survey to track: “Please follow this link to a survey to get your participation points! Thank you!” 
  • If the course is the first in a program (i.e. an orientation or equivalent) please ask if anyone needs ADA/closed captioning services. Invite students to notify you in a private message. 
  • In the syllabus, create a recommended activity for each week for the synchronous session:
  • Subject line: Please join us for a live chat session. 
  • Activity Type: Live Lecture Activity 
  • In the text box, provide the instructions to the session. 
  • Consider this language and reference link, “Sure do hope to meet all of you during this Thursday evening's Live Chat. Remember, it will begin at 6 pm (Time Zone). Here is a site that will help you to calculate your time against (the meeting time zone), if that helps!” https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/usa
  • As you are building synchronous activities in the syllabus, examine what weekly objectives you are covering. Go over the objectives from the course. Specifically mention each objective in the chat. Discuss the objectives each week. 

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