Best Practices for Virtual Meeting Courses
A virtual meeting course requires students to meet synchronously (with fixed meeting times) in a virtual classroom using synchronous software (e.g. Collaborate via BbLearn, Adobe Connect Pro, Google Hangout, or Skype). Virtual meetings may be combined with online content in BbLearn.
Here are some considerations for using the virtual meeting format:
- Course Design
Virtual meeting courses can benefit from using a Hybrid design approach, where in-class learning activities are planned to take advantage of just-in-time questioning, and guidance. Maximize interaction in synchronous sessions, and utilize online content that complements and coordinates with the in-class meeting activities.
During the first virtual meeting, orient your students to the basic features in the interface. Ask them to type comments in the chat box. Show them how to use the talk and video buttons, and how to raise their hand to ask questions.
Virtual sessions have limitations, and technology is never 100% reliable. Keeping your sessions simple, with low-stakes activities, is helpful. Streaming videos (film clips, DVDs, etc.) are not viewable in virtual meetings due to technology limitations. Instead, you can paste video URLs into the chat, allow students time to watch them, then come back together in the session to discuss. Another alternative is to have students watch the video prior to your virtual meeting.
- Student preparation
Provide clear instructions, practice sessions, and links for students to test out the virtual meeting software prior to the first session. Inform students about equipment they will need (mic, headset, webcam) ahead of the first virtual meeting. Encourage them to test their virtual meeting link ahead of time and check required conferencing functions such as audio and video.
- Test session: Schedule a practice session so you and your students can get comfortable navigating the virtual classroom before any higher stakes activities. Practice using voice and web video functions, feedback buttons, desktop sharing, loading slides, or helping students perform required tasks inside the virtual environment.
- Backup Plan: In case the technology fails, provide details ahead of time for a backup meeting option, such as a teleconference number, so that students who cannot log in can still listen and participate.
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