Monday, March 28, 2011

Morning Buzz Recap - Synchronous Learning Strategies

Many thanks to everyone who attended the Morning Buzz session on Synchronous Learning strategies (A2) at last week's Learning Solutions Conference (#LS2011). As promised, here is a recap of the solutions we brainstormed in our discussion.

Challenge #1: Introducing tools to technology-challenged participants

  • Use a 2-person (producer) model to ensure participation - from both technology-challenged participants and from those who may be multi-tasking

  • Consider developing a self-paced tutorial ("Learning to learn online") to help prepare participants for the synchronous learning experience

  • Create a job aid on how to log in to the web classroom

  • Display a rotating PowerPoint as participants log in to help direct them to necessary tools in the classroom

  • Launch a lobby exercises activity to get participants practicing with the tools

  • Do "virtual yoga" - hands up, hands down, etc.

Challenge #2: Engaging activities that aren't too complicated

  • Have participants use an arrow (where available) to claim their place on the white board, then type their text answer next to the arrow

  • Have participants type their name into the chat box - for both attendance and practice

  • For those with teleconference issues: don't provide teleconference numbers to force participants to use the "call back" option

  • For those who have a group of participants on a single computer logging in - assign roles so everyone feels involved, use breakout groups in the live classroom, try to simulate the webinar

  • To ensure participants are following along during audio, outline audio track and have participants follow with their arrows

  • Distribute a participant guide to engage participants during session

  • Use the 'chat' area to capture action planning (start, stop, continue)

  • When the breakout feature is not available in the platform, split the whiteboard into sections and break participants out on the teleconference line

  • Use a "timed chat" approach - have participants type their answer, but do not hit enter until facilitator says "Go". This allows everyone to participate, particularly when many may come up with the same response.

  • If you need a timer during your session, consider using Application Share with the hahntech timer tool

  • To add more interactivity, use an asynchronous tool (articulate, etc.) and import the .swf into the web classroom

Challenge #3: Transitioning classroom instructors into synchronous learning facilitators

  • Develop a "how to" guide using examples of classroom v. synchronous

  • Have a producer or other support during session

  • Prepare facilitator for pacing in the virtual classroom (e..g., being comfortable with silence)

  • Create leader's guides or scripts for both the facilitator and the producer

  • Reinforce the language of the environment (e.g., "Use the green checkmark if you agree.")

  • Have facilitators model the tools to increase participants understanding/comfort level

  • Have a training process for new facilitators (watch session, review leaders guide, practice, trial session with backup, then on own)

  • Ensure facilitators get enough practice using the platform before leading a session

Challenge #4: Making sessions engaging

  • Activities! (See examples above)

  • Graphics

  • Use slide sorter to advance slides out-of-sequence. Create a game-show feel.

  • Provide opportunities for participant feedback in the facilitator script

  • Call on participants that have not been engaged for a while

  • Use feedback icons and have producer follow up with those not participating to ensure engagement / no technology issues

Challenge #5: Time management in the virtual classroom

  • Keep on topic - facilitator keeps participants in check, producer keeps facilitator in check

  • Use a script

  • Use a parking lot (chat or notes or Q&A section, depending on platform)

  • Producer can send chat to facilitator keeping them on topic/on time

Special thanks to the other session facilitators - Mira Mendlovitz, Ernie Brescia & Sarah Schmidt- for sharing their expertise!

Other ideas? Feel free to type them as a comment to this blog post. Also, if you're a member of the eLearning Guild, there are two free eBooks available on tips for synchronous learning you may want to review.

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