Synchronous Online Classes: 10 Tips for Engaging Students

Every time I have taught an online class, I have made it asynchronous. I’m blogging these synchronous teaching tips so I can find them again when I’m prepping my fall classes (which will likely be HyFlex).

The tips offered here won’t miraculously eliminate the initial awkwardness of virtual class sessions, but they’ll help. And over time, the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of virtual meetings will become normal, even comfortable. What’s more, you’ll find that most of the tips provided here work equally well in a traditional classroom setting. They are simply methods for increasing mental engagement, participation, and accountability. Because, at the end of the day, teaching with technology is just teaching – if “just” can be applied to something as complex and nuanced as teaching. And while the contexts and specifics differ, the same learning principles and general strategies always apply (Ambrose et al, 2010).

  1. Collect information before class.
  2. Tell students what to expect.
  3. Make it relevant, then highlight the relevance.
  4. Ask participants to come with one burning question
  5. Make sure your synchronous session offers novel content, insights, or activities
  6. Ask participants to keep their cameras on.
  7. Do a quick social check-in at the beginning of class.
  8. Pose a question and give participants a moment to write.
  9. Ask questions that require students to pick a side.
  10. Use synchronous sessions as consultations.

Marie Norman, Faculty Focus