1. Plan for an engaging session
- Compose a session plan with clear intended learning outcomes, a logical structure and a variety of activities for students to do during the session.
- Be ready to use a variety of media in your session: not only text, but also short videos, webpages or applications related to your subject.
- Try to limit your session to one hour, as it is difficult for students to sustain their attention for very long periods in a synchronous online environment.
- Try to avoid giving long lectures or showing long videos during the session. Students can do these tasks beforehand, to allow more time for interaction during the session.
2. Give students a reason to attend
- Set tasks for students to do before your session, e.g. read a text, watch a video, or participate in an asynchronous discussion. Make it clear how these tasks are related to the learning outcomes of the session. Ensure students have completed the tasks set for them.
- Set tasks for students to do after the session to consolidate what they have learned. These could include discussing themes that emerge during the session or writing a summary or reflection in an online journal.
- Make it clear that the tasks require active participation during the session.
3. Ensure all students can take part
- Direct students to the Practice Guidelines and set guidelines for participation and interaction.
- Depending on your choice of platform, direct students to the Help resources for Collaborate or Teams to help them prepare for the session.
- Remind them to use a headset and webcam in the session and check that these are working.
- Remind them to join the session using a stable internet connection. If students do not have reliable internet where they live, recommend that they use facilities in their local library.
- Ensure that all students can access the link to the session.
4. Get off to a positive start
- Create a welcoming environment by turning on your audio and video, thanking students for joining your session and displaying a welcome message on the screen.
- Display clear instructions about what students need to do before their session starts, e.g. post in the chat, test their microphone or prepare any materials they need.
- Explain the purpose of the session, how it relates to the learning outcomes for the subject and what students are expected to do during the session.
5. Facilitate interaction
- Use a variety of questions, task types, tools, and interaction patterns to encourage student participation.
- Promote student-student interaction by splitting students into breakout groups (Blackboard Collaborate) or using separate channels (Microsoft Teams). Design group tasks that give students a reason to communicate.
- Give students different roles for breakout tasks to ensure students remain focused.
- Before starting a breakout task, give clear instructions and check understanding so that students know what they need to do, and set a time limit.
6. Provide feedback on learning
- Take care to acknowledge the comments students have written in the chat and answer any questions they have posted.
- When students are doing a breakout task, monitor the different groups, tell them what they are doing well and be ready to provide support.
- When students are presenting group work to the whole group, encourage others to listen and invite them to give constructive peer feedback. You could give each group specific roles, e.g. after group 1 presents, group 2 gives feedback.
7. Collect feedback on your teaching
- Collect student feedback at the end of your session to find out which activities engaged them most. You could do this using the chat or make it anonymous by using a survey or poll.
- If you do not have time to do this during the session, do it after the session has finished.
8. Make clear the benefits of attending the session
- Share the recording and any materials you used in the session. This is a useful way of encouraging students to revise what they learned in class and showing students who did not attend what they can expect when they attend in future.
- Manage any post-session tasks you have set and ensure that students relate their discussions or reflections to ideas that emerged during the session.
9. Check the data
- Monitor the attendance data and contact any students who did not attend the session to find out why they did not attend. Encourage latecomers to join the next session on time.
- Check to see if any students joined the session late or left early and contact them to find out why they could not attend the whole session.
10. Reflect on your teaching
- Review the session recording to see which activities engaged students the most.
- Invite a colleague to review specific sections of the recording to collect their feedback on the session.