A web conference and a face-to-face course are not equal. Whereas a face-to-face course may be more forgiving, organization and good facilitation are key to making a web conference an engaging learning experience. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure your session with students is a success.
- Prepare ahead of time:
- Set up a practice session to get comfortable with the technology.
- Test out your audio (speakers and mic) and make sure you have any required plugins installed and updated.
- Include any relevant info in your course syllabus or in your Canvas site so students know where to go and what to do. If you’re using Zoom, be sure to include the link for your meeting room.
- Set aside time for housekeeping at the beginning of your session:
- Give students a brief walk-through of the tools and how they should interact with them. For example, will you be answering questions via chat? Should students “raise their hand” if they want to speak or ask a question? Will you be calling on students to participate or will it be voluntary?
- Do a microphone and speaker test to make sure that everyone can hear and use their mic.
- Mute everyone except for yourself (or whoever is speaking) to minimize echoes and disruptions.
- Don’t just lecture.
- Alternate lecture with discussion to keep students engaged. Better yet, record a video lecture for students to watch before hand and use the web conference for discussion only.
- Ask open ended questions that spark conversation.
- Hold small group sessions. If you have a large class, consider breaking the students up into smaller groups and holding separate synchronous sessions for each.
- Keep things simple. Avoid video and having multiple people all talk at once. Participants’ internet quality may vary and this will help to minimize the possibility of bandwidth issues. If you must use video, we recommend turning your webcam on briefly to greet the class and then turning it off. It’s not worth the possibility of crashing the session to have both video and presentation slides.
- Use a wired connection whenever possible. Web conferencing software tends to be bulky and can use up a lot of bandwidth. As a result, wireless connections are simply less reliable, especially when using special features such as video or screen sharing.
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