Tips for Virtual Class Sessions


Web conferencing systems like Wimba Classroom, Blackboard Collaborate, or Adobe Connect are powerful tools for live, synchronous communication online. However, delivering a virtual lecture or facilitating a live online discussion can feel like learning to drive a stick-shift car. Managing content, students, and software simultaneously can be overwhelming.

Below is a list of tips and recommended best practices for leading successful virtual class sessions. Please feel free to add your tip(s) to the list!

Preparing

Students
  1. Give students the date as early as possible
  2. Make the link easy to find in your course
  3. Provide a time for students to test their system ahead of time


PowerPoint Slides
  1. Use a large, bold, simple font
  2. Have no more than 4 to 6 bullets per slide
  3. Use plain backgrounds that contrast well with the text
  4. Do not use animations
  5. Use slides to guide discussion (even if you do not present information)


Your Computer
  1. Run the set up wizard
  2. Test your presentation ahead of time
  3. Turn off anything with notifications, like Email, Skype, or Instant Messaging


Your Environment
  1. Dim or turn off any lighting behind you
  2. Use overhead lighting or lighting behind the web cam
  3. Remove distracting décor from behind you
  4. Post “Do Not Disturb” notices
  5. Turn off phone ringer


Yourself
  1. Dress like a news anchor
    Wear Darker or muted colors (no whites, pastels, or bright colors). Wear solid colors or simple patterns
  2. Consider writing a script for your presentation
  3. Practice your presentation in the web conferencing tool, including all features


Delivering the Session

Beginning
  1. Join the session early (20-30 minutes)
  2. Post a welcome page
  3. Greet students as they enter
  4. Encourage students to test their microphone before the session begins
  5. Use the timer, if one is available, to count down to the start of your session
  6. Set a reminder to begin the session archive


Middle
  1. Speak slowly and clearly
  2. Look into the camera, not at your slides
  3. Avoid quick movement
  4. Smile :-)
  5. Repeat text chat questions and comments for the archive
  6. Ask students to raise their hand to speak
  7. Have students introduce themselves when they begin speaking
  8. Turn off your microphone when a student is talking to avoid feedback
  9. Use a second monitor for application sharing so that you can still monitor the text chat
  10. Take time to stop and ask questions
  11. Use features like polls or breakout rooms to encourage students to actively participate
  12. Start simple and add more features as you become more comfortable
  13. Don't let distractions fluster you


End
  1. Leave time for questions
  2. Have a solid exit line so that students know they can close the session
  3. Plan to stay 15 minutes after the end for individual questions
  4. Provide a summary at the end of the session


Contributors

If you've shared a tip above, please add your name, institution, and email address to the list below so that we can publicly acknowledge your contribution. Thank you for sharing your tips!