Maximizing Your Synchronous Sessions – Part II: Agenda

By Christine Scherer

In the School of Professional Studies, most students are busy adult professionals who have to carefully carve time out to focus on coursework. This post is part two of a series on how to make the most of synchronous time, or time when all students in the course and the instructor are online at the same time. Part I focused on technology: how to choose an appropriate web conferencing tool, provide connection information to students, and give students the opportunity to test the technology prior to the session. This post provides three strategies to assist you in planning a synchronous session.

Assign preparation activities.

Will your students be interacting with a guest speaker, recapping the discussion board, or sharing thoughts and ideas during your session? Make sure they come prepared by researching the guest speaker ahead of time or  preparing a list of points they want to raise.

One possible preparation assignment for students ahead of a session is a “QQTP” – question, quotation, talking point. In this assignment, students complete a pre-reading and arrive to the session with one question about the reading, one significant quotation from the reading, and one point to spark discussion. Another possibility is to have a dedicated discussion thread in your course for questions to be discussed at the synchronous session.

Create a schedule for the session and send to students.

Creating a schedule with times on it allows students to ensure they are prepared for each part of the session. It also provides an opportunity for students who may not be able to attend the session or the entire session to either send in questions or contributions in advance, or plan their time wisely.

Give students the opportunity to interact and lead.

Students can read, watch videos, or look at web resources on their own time. What they can’t do is interact with each other in real-time. Synchronous sessions can be used to take asynchronous discussion to a deeper level or bring up totally new points for discussion.

Students can take responsibility for making the most of their time by planning part of the session. Depending on the number of students in your course, this can be done individually, in small groups, or collectively as an entire class.

Assigning preparation activities, providing a schedule, and giving students the opportunity to interact during synchronous sessions will show your students that you value their time and make your synchronous sessions more engaging. For help or additional tips on planning a synchronous session, please contact me at at jackie@northwestern.edu .

 



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