Tips for Teaching Online Synchronous Courses

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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 3:54am in

Many of us will be teaching online synchronous courses this term, and some of us have already begun. What have you learned about doing so that you think others might benefit from knowing? And what do you want to know about it?

[map of areas affected at one point during Zoom’s outage this morning]

This morning’s widespread Zoom outage (which Zoom says is over) provides one lesson: have a back-up plan in place should your virtual meeting space fail.

I’m using Zoom this term, but I’ll plan on scheduling back-up meetings for my classes on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, which my university supports, and making sure my students know to check it if Zoom isn’t working. (I prefer Zoom to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra because I can see all of my students at once using it.)

Thinking you might livestream your lecture over YouTube in the event your virtual classroom space goes offline? Make sure you set up that functionality now, as apparently it can take 24 hours for it to become available to you after you sign up for it. (Thanks, Julia Staffel, for that tip.)

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Those who want to be able to see their students and share documents should consider setting up a second monitor to do so more easily. Zoom provides some instructions on that here.
  • Those who like to write on the board during class but find it challenging or awkward to write on the touchscreens into which their cameras are embedded might be interested in a separate digital writing surface, such as an iskn Repaper or Slate.
  • Using slides? Did you know you can share your slides as a virtual background on Zoom, so it appears on screen as if projected onto a screen behind you? Details here. (Thanks, Geoff Pynn, for this tip.)

Please share helpful suggestions and inquiries in the comments. Thanks!

Related: Six Ways to Use Tech to Design Flexible, Student-Centered Philosophy CoursesHybrid & Online Teaching: Four Helpful Workshops“Teaching Philosophy Online” Sessions.


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