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Live Online Lectures - Ten Activities to Use in Your Sessions



Live Online Lectures - Ten Activities to Use in Your Sessions
Integrate these student-centred activities into your synchronous online teaching to engage and motivate your students and keep them coming back. Some are designed to take place at the beginning or end of a live session, to build social presence, arouse students’ interest in the topic, or review what they have learned, while others are intended as main activities in which students engage more deeply with subject content.

Though the activities are generic and can be used in any subject discipline, where appropriate, examples are provided to illustrate how they could be tailored to suit a specific context.
Each activity includes suggestions for how it may be adapted or extended, so the length of time required may vary.
The clock icons provide a rough guide:

= five minutes or less
= five to ten minutes
= ten minutes or more

The activities are designed to work equally well in any synchronous online platform. Where the platform functions or terms differ between Blackboard Collaborate (BbC) and Microsoft Teams (MT), the platform is indicated in brackets in the text. Finally, some of the activities are better suited to smaller groups (60 students or fewer). These are marked with an asterisk (*).
1. How do you feel?

Check how students are feeling at the start of your session.

  • Display a screenshot of the feedback icons (BbC) or emoticons (MT). Tell students you are happy to be with them in the session. Change your status icon to ‘happy’.
  • Invite students to use one of the four feedback icons (BbC) or an emoticon (MT) to indicate how they are feeling.
  • Comment on how the whole group is feeling.
  • You could extend the activity by asking one or two students to write or say something about how they are feeling.
  • You could repeat this activity at the end of the session to see if their feelings have changed.

2. Location, location, location *

Find out where your students are joining from and create social presence in your online course.

  • Display a slide with a map. Use the editing and markup tools (BbC, MT) to mark your location on the map.
  • Invite students to use the tools to mark their location on the map.
  • Comment on where different students are located.
  • You could extend the activity by asking one or two students to write or say something about where they are.
  • You could also ask students to use their webcams to show where they are, or you could use your webcam to show where you are.

3. Knowledge check

Check what students already know about the content of your session using an anonymous poll or form.

    • Prepare survey questions about the content of your session using a poll (BbC) or form (MT). For example:
How much do you know about [topic A]?
      • I know quite a lot about it.
      • I know a little about it.
      • It’s completely new to me.
    • Open the poll or form and set a time limit for students to complete it.
    • Check answers and make general comments on how the whole group have responded.
    • You could extend the activity by asking one or two students who know ‘a little’ or ‘quite a lot’ about the topic to share something they know about it or write or say what else they would like to learn.
    • You could also use a poll or form to create short questions to test students’ knowledge of the topic. For example:
How many muscles control the movement of the human eye?
    • 2
    • 4
    • 6

4. Make a statement

Check students’ understanding or gauge their opinion before moving on.

  • Prepare statements about your subject which are true or false and add them to separate slides of your PowerPoint. For example:
    • The deadline for Assignment 1 is 17 March.
    • The final exam counts for 100% of your final grade.
  • Display each statement in turn. Invite students to use the ‘agree’ or ’disagreeicons (BbC) or emoticons in the chat (MT) to indicate whether they think each statement is true or false.
  • Provide brief feedback on each statement.
  • You could also display statements about your topic that are more subjective or controversial and ask students to use the same icons to indicate whether they agree or disagree with them. For example:
    • It is not possible to make a full recovery after a stroke.
    • These four pictures are all examples of an urban environment.
  • You could extend the activity by asking one or two students to justify or explain their answers using the chat or audio.

5. Visible learning *

Engage students in analysing or giving visual feedback on an image or text.

  • Prepare an image or short text related to the topic of your session. This might be a design blueprint, process diagram or an extract from an article.
  • Display the image or text. Invite students to label or annotate it using the editing and markup tools (BbC, MT). They could, for example, highlight important design features, stages of the process or language in the text.
  • Comment on the annotations and invite students to explain their work.
  • You could ask students to do this activity in smaller groups, perhaps using different images or texts, and then present their ideas in the main room. They could also annotate the image or text as they present their ideas to the group.

6. Co-create a document

Engage students in co-creating a document or presentation during the session.

  • Prepare a blank Word document or PowerPoint presentation for students to work on. Create copies so that when working in breakouts each group will have their own document or presentation.
  • Explain to students what they need to create. Assign breakout groups (BbC) or separate channels (MT). Set a time limit.
  • Start the activity. Monitor groups to check students are on-task. Be ready to answer questions and provide support.
  • Bring students back into the main room. Invite students from different groups to present their document or presentation to the whole group.
  • To scaffold students’ learning, you could provide them with a template or model.
  • If this is part of a longer project, you could ask students to begin work on the shared document asynchronously before the session, work on it together during the session and discuss their ideas in real time, and then continue working on it asynchronously after the session.

7. Think-pair-share

Give students time to reflect and discuss their ideas with a small group before sharing their ideas with the whole group.

  • Set a question for students to think about related to your subject. Your question should be thought-provoking and require higher-order thinking skills.
  • Once students have had time to reflect, put them into small groups using breakout groups (BbC) or separate channels (MT) and ask them to discuss their ideas. Set a time limit.
  • Start the activity. Monitor groups to check students are on-task. Be ready to answer questions and provide support.
  • Bring students back into the main room and invite them to share what they discussed.
  • To make it easier to monitor what different groups are doing, you could ask them to record their ideas using an online Word document or a tool like Padlet. Having notes will also help students share their ideas in the main room.
  • To give students a further opportunity to discuss their ideas, you could put them into larger groups before bringing them back to the main room.

8. Role with it *

Help students generate ideas together before taking on roles to solve a problem.

  • Design a task in which students must take on different roles and work together to solve a problem. Depending on your subject, this could be a business meeting in which different stakeholders decide how to invest a sum of money, a social worker referring a case for medical support, or a debate about an ethical or moral issue.
  • Explain the task and outline the different roles students will take on. Tell them they will first work with other students who have the same role to prepare what to say in the task. Assign breakout groups (BbC) or separate channels (MT). Set a time limit.
  • Start the activity. Monitor groups to check students are on-task. Be ready to answer questions and provide support.
  • Bring students back into the main room. Explain that they are going to work in new groups, taking on the roles they have prepared, and solve a problem. Assign new breakout groups (BbC) or separate channels (MT). Set a time limit.
  • Start the activity. Monitor groups to check students are on-task. Be ready to answer questions and provide support.
  • Bring students back into the main room. Invite students from different groups to present the outcome of their task.
  • To save time, you could allocate roles and ask students to prepare their ideas before the session.
  • You could ask students to continue the discussion asynchronously in your course forum or write a reflection on the activity in their journal, after the session.

9. Virtual site visit

Guide students through a virtual tour, field trip or experiment.

  • Select an online resource related to your subject, such as a museum website, map or 3D model. Prepare a short presentation for your students in which you walk them through key points or stages, using the resource as a visual guide.
  • Share the application (BbC, MT) and give students the visual presentation. Invite students to post questions and comments in the chat.
  • You could ask students to prepare their own presentations, either using the same resources or resources they have selected.
  • You could also use this activity to give students a tour of the course platform.

10. Exit poll and evaluation

Students provide instant feedback on the session.

    • Create a poll (BbC) or form (MT) to collect feedback from students on the session. For example:
My favourite part of the session was:
      • [Activity 1]
      • [Activity 2]
      • [Activity 3]
      • [Activity 4]
I achieved the learning outcomes for this session:
      • Strongly agree
      • Partly agree
      • Partly disagree
      • Strongly disagree

    • Start the activity and set a time limit for students to complete it.
    • Check answers and make general comments on how the whole group has responded.
    • You could extend the activity by asking students to write or say why they feel they achieved the learning outcomes or why they enjoyed certain activities the most.
    • You could also use a poll or form to create short questions to test students’ knowledge of the topic at the end of the session. For example:
Which of these is not a type of eye movement?
    • abduction
    • extorsion
    • extortion

  • You could also use the editing and markup tools (BbC, MT) to test students’ knowledge at the end of the session, by asking them to write or drag words to label an image.
EDC Support Updates
  • Webinars: Be sure to check our line-up of live online Webinars and if you cannot make it to a session or want to review previous sessions you can access the videos online here
  • Our Blackboard Templates can help you build engaging and interactive online classes

Previous Newsletters
Quickstart guide
Making teaching videos from home (webinar)
eAssessment
Using uRewind to support video assignments
Designing open-book take-home assessments
Building engaging online learning
Turnitin and online feedback
Teaching and learning at PolyU after the disruption
New Website on online teaching and new resources for teachers, DLTCs, HoDs, CLOs and students
Using Microsoft Teams to deliver synchronous online classes
Facilitating online discussions
Engaging Live Online Lectures - Before, During and After
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