Virtual Synchronous Interaction sessions — those mandatory blocks of time that need to be filled with something.
Many times the VSIs are filled with lecture sessions where the professor talks at the students and asks for any questions at the end. These sessions are boring. There is low student participation, lukewarm group discussions and a decrease in attendance due to the dragging experience. This can make a VSI seem like a waste of time to not only the students, but the professor. Why have these sessions if students are not getting anything out of them?
Well, the words “student engagement” get thrown around a lot in conversations about online learning. Everyone wants it to be interactive and fun for students, but not every lesson can be fun. Sometimes students have to learn the boring basics. So, here are these mandatory sessions no one seems to know what to do with, just to make the course more appealing for the sake of student engagement. Now what?
VSIs is your opportunity to interact with your students similarly to an in-person classroom setting. Here are some things to consider when planning your next VSI:
Flip the Classroom – Instead of doing a lecture, have the students read the material and prepare for a group discussion before the VSI. Then, when you have all your students online it is the perfect time to do knowledge checks and go more in-depth with real-life scenarios.
Use Polls – To gauge student understanding of the week’s material, use a quick poll to find out which topics the students feel they have mastered before starting the new discussion session. The topics that receive the lowest rating can now be covered in the VSI.
Host a Q&A Session – Have students submit questions in the Adobe Connect meeting room Q&A pod throughout the week. When you login, you will be able to see all the questions, but the students will only see the questions he/she submitted. As you answer questions, you can delete them from your list. This will not affect the student’s pod view.
Make It Personal – Being an online student is an isolated experience. Make the most of your time with students. Greet them as they enter the meeting room, answer the dumb questions to encourage conversation, and hang around a few minutes after the meeting in case people linger to ask questions like they do in on-campus classrooms. Showing that you care about your students increases student engagement without all the bells and whistles. Even if you do not change a thing with your VSI style (if it’s not broken don’t fix it, right?) then showing that you care about your students will make all the difference.
Making small changes to your teaching style could have a bigger impact on the way your students retain information and improve the overall experience of a live online session. You do not have to use all the tips in this post, but try one out and see how it goes. It doesn’t hurt to experiment a little.