Meeting Face-to-Face Online

How would you like a tool that helped your online students feel more connected, engaged, and motivated to do well in your online course? What if you had a tool that could help strengthen communication with students, eliminate some of the frustrating email patterns online instructors often encounter, and create a much deeper sense of relationship in the virtual classroom?

Well, we have just such a tool available: GoToMeeting integrated with Blackboard. Our partnership with Citrix, the makers of GTM, provides a license for all faculty to use for hosting meetings with students at anytime. In our system, GoToMeeting is also integrated right into Blackboard so that faculty can easily schedule, manage, and host meetings for their class from within the course itself.

Benefits to Online Video Conferencing

According to Aslanian Market Research, in 2015, at least 75% of online students are willing to log on 2-3 times per course for real-time virtual discussions or instructor lectures. And we know from other data on online learning as well as our own student evaluations that engagement with the faculty is one of the most important factors for student success and retention (see CCRC). It should come as no surprise to us that there is a positive correlation between a student connecting to faculty who are interested in their learning and success and how likely that student is to graduate or do well. Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.23.14 AMFurthermore, delivering instructional content in the form of short, TEDTalk style lectures that are 6-10 minutes long provides an experience to online students no discussion forum or textbook reading can replace. Video-captured lectures combine the face-to-face “presence” with the freedom to watch and rewatch that content at their convenience. The ability to stop the instructor’s teaching to rewind and listen again is a very powerful benefit! And, interestingly, a growing number of major universities are adopting this lecture capture approach for their traditional, on-campus college courses.

What can you do with our GoToMeeting – Blackboard tool?

  • Quickly and simply schedule one or more meetings for students in your class
  • Launch the meeting tool when its time to start
  • Record the virtual meeting to share with others who may have missed.
  • Allow all users to share webcams and mics to see and hear each other.
  • Allow people to call in by phone if they can’t get to a computer.
  • Share your computer screen if you have presentations or documents you want them to see.
  • Provide real-time teaching while simultaneously recording it for on-demand access.

Getting Started

Here are some suggestions for how you can easily get started with GoToMeeting and make a big difference in your next class!

  1. Start small. Begin by with scheduling and holding 1 meeting per course. In my experience, the best time for this meeting is in the first 10 days of the course.
  2. Keep it simple. Limit your use of the meetings for the whole class to just 2-3 times per course. Don’t overwhelm students with invites and weekly required meetings; you’ll have a problem on your hands there. Be realistic and appreciate the power of a couple of simple but personal, real-time touches.
  3. Virtual Office Hours. Announce that for a given period of time on a specific day each week, you will be logged into GoToMeeting and available for anyone who wants to drop in for a virtual chat. Schedule a live meeting and call it “Office Hours” and then at the appointed hour, launch the meeting and keep it open on your computer as you do other work. Be prepared for a student to log in and have a question or two.
  4. One-on-Ones. Having a student who is really struggling, needs encouragement, wants to go over some of the concepts for the week? Schedule and use GTM for a face-to-face with that student.
  5. Virtual Lecture. Plan a 10-15 minute short lecture on the topic for the week that you will record and make available for on-demand watching. Invite the students to participate. Use visual aids via Keynote or PowerPoint to enhance your lecture. Deliver it but allow time for some Q&A. Record the lecture and repost it so students can watch it as needed. For those of you who already record short teaching episodes, this can be an engaging alternative for students who might want to participate in real-time.

Over the last year, I’ve heard from a good number of our AGS adjunct faculty that you would like technology to help you better connect to your students in the online classroom. The most talked about feature was for web conferencing within the classroom. The GoToMeeting is now available and ready for use. If you have not yet used GTM and would like to get going, please contact Dr. Easley or Sean Stedwell via email so we can activate your account. We are also happy to provide any specific instructions you need to get up to speed using the tool.

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Dr. Easley

Suggested Resources

5 Strategies for Designing & Delivering High Quality Online Instruction (see #5)

CCRC, Creating an Effective Online Instructor Presence, Columbia Univ (April 2013)

 

 

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Bryan Easley

About the author

Dean of Online Education, Oklahoma Wesleyan University

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