Engagement in Synchronous Sessions

Here are some ideas and strategies to engage your students in synchronous sessions.

Online synchronous sessions (real-time web conferencing meetings) can be a great place to build community and engage students!

Get students communicating:

  • Get students comfortable speaking on the microphone with an icebreaker type of activity. For smaller classes, consider starting class with a brief check-in, asking students to answer an easy question such as “What is something you’re looking forward to doing this weekend?”
  • Encourage students to use the chat feature in Zoom to ask questions and make comments. You may answer them as they come in, or wait until after your presentation to answer them. Some students may feel more comfortable engaging via chat vs microphone.
  • Ask students to write and reflect on topics prior to the synchronous session. Once in the session, provide opportunities for students to elaborate on their ideas, or to connect them with the ideas of their peers.

Check for understanding & keep students’ attention:

  • Pause periodically to ask students if there are questions, or present them with a question to check for understanding.
  • Provide opportunities for student input through live polls (i.e. Zoom Polls, Poll Everywhere or Socrative), Google Docs, or Google Forms. These tools allow for equal and live participation and results can be displayed to the class.
  • Consider using Peardeck, a tool that inserts assessment questions into presentations, and displays the results back to instructors. See the Peardeck examples below.

Consider breakout rooms:

  • Students might be more inclined to talk in smaller vs larger groups. Breakout rooms in Zoom allow you to break large groups into smaller private groups.
  • Learn more about Zoom Breakout Rooms

Peardeck Examples

In her course STE 322: Elementary Social Studies, Dr. Rayna Fujii uses Peardeck to engage students with questions throughout her presentations. NOTE: Peardeck presentations must be presented using the teacher dashboard, and students are given a code to access the presentations. Using the teacher dashboard, teachers can see their students’ responses. The slides below are examples of Dr Fujii’s prompts, you won’t be able to interact with the slides. Peardeck offers a free version, learn more at the Peardeck website.

Here’s another example of what you can do with Peardeck, also from Dr. Fujii: