Holding Synchronous Virtual Classes

*Preventing Unwanted Participants in Zoom*

There have been instances of uninvited and unwanted participants joining Zoom sessions to disrupt class. Three steps to prevent such disruptions are to

  1. Only post the link to your zoom meeting in your course's D2L. Do not post it in any other environment.

  2. Enable the Zoom setting that generates a password needed to join the session. Do not communicate that password at the same place you communicate the link to the meeting. For instance, if you post the meeting link in D2L, send the password to students via their student email or with a text message to their phones.

  3. Enable the Waiting Room function. With the Waiting Room, before participants join a Zoom session, they are placed into a "Waiting Room" and must be manually entered by the host (the instructor). Only allow those whose names you recognize to join the session. If someone does disrupt the session, you can remove a participant.

Additional advice and steps for preventing "Zoom-Bombing" can be found here.

This Zoom Meeting Guide provides an overview of several of the functions for hosting a session.

Holding Synchronous (Real-Time) Virtual Classes

What?

Virtual class meetings involve gathering in real time through a videochat or conference call. A virtual class session can involve viewing a set of slides or a document together synchronously while discussing, if using videochat, or can involve a live conference call with students to discuss pre-circulated content.

Even if you believe that all of your students have access to technology and the chosen platform, record any online sessions (other than individual one-on-one meetings) using the platform's available recording features in case any student does not have access to remotely participate during the exact time.

Why?

A synchronous virtual classroom allows for in-the-moment discussion and live Q and A. Additionally, with the "Share Screen" features of videoconferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Meet, faculty can discuss content as they might in an in-residence class or engage in a full-class faculty and peer review of a student's work by bringing examples onto the screen and discussing.

Video and phone discussions can help continue a sense of community in the course and provide a direct way for students to ask questions and to share their ideas with one another.

Possible Technology Platforms

Google Meet

Google Meet, also known as Google Hangouts Meet, is available through the Student Email Google Suite. Dozens of people can join the same virtual meeting and speak or share video with each other from anywhere with Internet access. Dial in phone numbers can also be used to access meetings, enabling users with slow or no Internet connection to call in.

Additionally, Google Meet allows for

  • up to 100 participants can join a meeting

  • captioning available on live sessions

  • screen sharing options for all participants to allow for going over slides and other documents in real time while discussing

  • sessions may be recorded and links shared

For additional information see Hangouts Meet Training and Help. Additional information on using Google Meet can be found on the Distance Learning Remote Teaching page.

Zoom

Zoom is on online conferencing platform that allows for online video discussion. With a Zoom account through ECC's intitutional license, you can host virtual meetings at specified times. As the host, you can share your screen with your students while discussing the slides, documents, or other visuals. With a free Zoom account you can

Indiana University's Keep Teaching site offers helpful details for using Zoom.

This Zoom Meeting Guide provides an overview of several of the functions for hosting a session.

NOTE: There have been instances of uninvited and unwanted participants joining Zoom sessions to disrupt class. Three steps to prevent such disturbances are to

  1. Only post the link to your zoom meeting in your course's D2L. Do not post it in any other environment.

  2. Enable the Zoom setting that generates a password needed to join the session. Do not communicate that password at the same place you communicate the link to the meeting. For instance, if you post the meeting link in D2L, send the password to students via their student email or with a text message to their phones.

  3. Enable the Waiting Room function. With the Waiting Room, before participants join a Zoom session, they are placed into a "Waiting Room" and must be manually entered by the host (the instructor). Only allow those whose names you recognize to join the session. If someone does disrupt the session, you can remove a participant.

Additional advice and steps for preventing "Zoom-Bombing" can be found here.

Setting up a Zoom Account

To set up a Zoom account with the ECC institutional license, sign in here using your ECC login credentials.

D2L Virtual Classroom

D2L includes a videoconferencing tool called Virtual Classroom. Information on creating a virtual session in D2L can be found here. Through the free version of Virtual Classroom, faculty can

  • include up to 50 participants (up to 7 simultaneous webcams enabled)

  • record sessions for later viewing

  • host sessions up to 60 minutes

Using Google Meet and Zoom on Portable Devices

This video on Google Meet provides a concise overview on using Google Meet on portable devices.

This video on Zoom provides a concise overview of using Zoom on portable devices.

In addition to helping faculty who are using a portable device, the videos can be shared with students and are also helpful for faculty using a computer so that they can see how the platform functions for students using a phone or tablet.

Suggestions for Facilitating Virtual Classes

  • At the first session, communicate your expectations for participation. Since communication can get jumbled if everyone is talking at once, let students know if you’ll be calling on them periodically or inform them if you’d like them to interrupt you during any explanations or to wait until periodic breaks for question and discussion.

  • Let students know what they should come to the virtual class having already completed (reading, assignments, online discussions).

  • Assign case studies or readings in advance and provide students with the likely points for discussion/questions so that students may start their thinking before joining the virtual class

  • As in an in-residence class, some silence is okay. Give students time to react and think before they engage.

  • If using Zoom, choose to Mute Participants upon entry into the meeting. As the host, you are able to mute and unmute participants during the discussion.

  • Consider assigning a student to be a dedicated note-taker during each synchronous session and rotate who is the note-taker. Assigning a note-taker can free up other students to focus more on engaging with others. Additionally, students are able to see varying note-taking styles and learn from one another.

The ECC webinar recordings focus on approaches to leading synchronous online lessons.

Guiding Breakout Rooms

Zoom breakout rooms allow for the instructor to split participants up into small groups for discussion. The instructor is able to create groups manually or randomly and can set the duration of the breakout.

Instructions on using the Breakout Rooms feature can be found in this video.

When utilizing Breakout Rooms, a helpful strategy is to provide groups with a clear task to be working on or a deliverable to create. One approach to this is to create a Google Doc for different groups to record answers to discussion questions that are saved into the document and can be discussed later as a full class.

To do so, prior to class

  • Sign in to Google using your faculty1234@student.elgin.edu

  • Create a Google Doc

  • Type into the document or insert a set of questions or instructions that you’d like each group to work on. Even if all of the groups have the same set of questions to work on, it is important to create a separate page in the Google Doc (with an inserted page break) for each group to work on, and to title each page Group 1, ,Group 2, etc. to correspond with the Breakout Rooms.

Inserting a page break between each group’s page ensures that the page is not constantly shifting while several students type into the document at the same time.

  • Check the document’s Sharing Settings. On the Document Screen, click the “Share” button in the top right. In the popup-menu, click “Change.” In the dropdown menu near where it reads “Elgin Community College,” change the access to “Anyone with the Link” so that no login is required to access the document (unless you prefer students to need to sign in so that you can see who is typing what).

Important: On the right of the popup menu, click the dropdown menu near where it reads “Viewer” and instead select “Editor” so that students are able to edit the document to enter answers and share their work.

Now, when the link to the document is sent to students, they are able to open the document and can also edit.

To share the Document with students

  • Post the link to the document via D2L or email to students ahead of time. While another good option is to share the link to the document in the Chat before beginning Breakout Rooms, be aware that students will not have access to the previous Chat record once they’ve entered the Breakout.

The video below demonstrates how these above instructions to show how Google Docs can be used to provide instructions and focus deliverables in Breakout Rooms.

Student Camera Use

It is understandable to prefer all students to have their camera turned on so that they can participate in the lesson more directly and make it easier for the instructor to see reactions and nonverbal cues. There can be several good reasons, however, for why a student may prefer to have their camera turned off at times during the session.

The infographic at the left provides helpful considerations for why students might prefer to have their camera turned off and also includes suggestions for navigating how to approach student camera us.

Faculty or students can download ECC Virtual Backgrounds to use during Zoom session. Instructions on how to change your background can be found here.