Tips and Tricks for Synchronous and Videoconferencing Sessions
Hosting a videoconference or live session can feel daunting at first. Even if you are completely comfortable in front of a class, having to be on camera feels different for some people.
Before you start:
- Have at least one test run with the technology. Synchronous tools like BlueJeans can feel intimidating because it’s an additional layer of technology. Try logging into an online room at least once before you try it live. If you can, invite a colleague, friend, or family member into the videoconference room so you can practice; they can help you feel more confident that your microphone is working slides are visible, and your camera is in a good spot.
- Make sure your home studio is prepared. Have a microphone, make sure your camera is centered. Find a spot to minimized extraneous noises.
- Have an agenda for your synchronous session and share it with the class. The addition of technology may feel like just one more thing to have to worry about. Take that pressure off by setting clear goals for the call, topics and approximate times for each. It will help you stay focused and students will stay more engaged. The best sessions are planned.
- Open your room at least 10 minutes ahead of time, if possible. Your students may be nervous about trying to access the space as well. Opening the conference room early allows them to test their own technology. You don’t have to have your camera on – share your screen with a slide that informs students of what is to come.
During the session:
- Make sure you hit record! You will want to capture this session for students who were not able to attend.
- Remind students of videoconferencing etiquette. Students should put themselves on mute, have a protocol for answering questions, understand how the chat will be used.
- Having students’ videos on can be great, but it also takes up a lot of bandwidth. Consider asking students to “mute” their video and audio until they have the floor in the session.
- If you are giving a presentation and using notes, try to have them close to the camera. You want your eyes to be looking at the camera as much as possible, and looking down to read your notes may be distracting.
- If taking questions via the chat window, it is a good practice to restate the question aloud, otherwise those viewing the recording may not know what question was asked.
- If technology fails, don’t panic. It’s okay.
After the session:
- Post the recording of your videoconference for students to view later.
Canvas: Using Canvas conferences
UM ITS: Getting started with Blue Jeans
Vancouver Island University: Tips for teaching via videoconference
University of Oregon: Tips for teaching with videoconference systems