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Live online teaching guide

Explore the options available for live online teaching at City.

Prepare your session

  1. Create a lesson plan. Kanter (2015) advises you organise your content into three stages. This will help you to structure your online synchronous teaching and help you to connect you asynchronous and synchronous activities.
    • Preparatory content: Content that students need to complete in advance of the synchronous session.
    • Expert content: This needs to be delivered by the lecturer so that you have the opportunity of testing students knowledge and understanding and providing different examples to help with understanding. When designing your expert content, chunk it into discrete topics and provide regular checkpoint poll questions to check engagement and understanding.
    • Peer interactive activities: Small and large group activities that help students to apply or reflect on the preparatory and expert content.
  2. Once you know your student numbers and have decided what type of interactive activities that you need to facilitate, review the Microsoft Teams Meetings and Zoom Feature Comparison to decide which tool best meets your requirements.
  3. Get a group of colleagues together to join in your virtual classroom before you go live with your students. This helps you to become familiar with the controls and navigation in the virtual classroom technology. It also provides an opportunity for your colleagues to give feedback on your activities.
  4. Provide links on your Moodle module with instructions for your students on how to join the meeting, to connect their audio and participate actively in the virtual classroom.

Design interactivity for different group sizes

Kanter (2015) highlights the difference in interaction approaches based on the number of participants.

  • Up to 10 students: These are characterised by a conversational tone, feeling of sitting around a table with everyone having air time. There is the opportunity to get to know each other and build social capital that can lead to sharing of personal stories and experiences in a trustworthy environment. Many face-to-face activities are adaptable to this size group.  Here is where you can encourage people to ask their questions live – via their microphone versus the chat.  But remember, encourage use of hand-raise so that students don’t speak over each other.
  • Up to 25 students: There is limited air time for everyone to speak, but you can get input from everyone quickly using a chat or polling feature to stimulate and focus the discussion. If materials are shared ahead of time, with reading assignments or brief exercises, there is more interaction.
  • Up to 50 students: The connection between participants is less intimate. Back channel facilitation, chat, polls, and other tools are critical for a high level of interaction and to keep people engaged.  When the size of the group is over 25, it requires more focused Q&A.  It is best to avoid live (where people unmute and ask their questions), but make use of the chat or polls. Prioritise questions so they align with content, and design content in 10 minute chunks with breaks for Q/A.
  • Over 50 students: You need to use all the techniques for a medium webinar, but with more deliberative audience polls sprinkled through the session that helps focuses attention on the key content ideas.  Be sure to capture and edit the group chat comments online as part of the takeaways.

Do I need a co-faciltator?

  • If you and your students are new to the technology, it helps to have a co-facilitator to help troubleshoot audio and video issues with you.
  • If you are using the waiting room feature it is really helpful to have a co-facilitator to help admit late arriving students.
  • If you are teaching 50 students or more, chat and multiple breakout become increasingly important. It helps to have a co-facilitator to summarise chat questions for the lecturer to respond to and to provide advice and support in the breakout rooms.

Prepare your assistants, co-hosts and guest speakers

  • Provide clear instructions of what tasks you want you assistants and co-hosts to facilitate.
    • If you are co-hosting an event, the Team Teaching Summary provides some best practice activities and highlights the benefits and challenges of Team Teaching.
  • Discuss the format of the event with your guest speakers and agree how you want the session to run.
  • Provide links to relevant City guidance for guest speakers so that they can download applications required to participate well in advance of the session.
  • Include your assistants, co-hosts and guest speakers in the test run of the virtual classroom. This gives them an opportunity to become familiar with the controls and navigation in the virtual classroom and helps to clarify what tasks each person is responsible for.
  • Ask your assistants, co-hosts and guest speakers to arrive early to ensure that they can connect their audio and camera.
  • When asking assistants and guest speakers to arrive early, you will also need to be in virtual classroom.
  • In Zoom, you might be using a waiting room. Participants cannot enter the room until the host or assigned co-host has started the meeting and manually admits the participants.
  • In Zoom, you cannot add guest speakers (users without City accounts) as alternative hosts prior to the start of the meeting. You need to wait until they have joined the meeting and then promote them to the role of co-host.
  • Set up a an informal back-channel (e.g. Teams chat or WhatsApp) for your assistants, co-hosts and guest speakers so that you can quickly liaise on any issues or changes during the event without disturbing the flow of the teaching session.

External speaker guide

Induct your students

  1. Create a welcome slide for students and provide links or give tips to students on how to connect their audio and video in the virtual classroom.
    • Inform your students if the session is being recorded and that their webcam and microphone (if enabled) and contribution to chat will be recorded. Students can switch off their webcam if they don’t want this included in the recording.
  2. For your first virtual classroom:
    • allow plenty of time for students to log in and to get to grips with the classroom.
    • run an activity to familiarise all students with the features you might use and protocols e.g. for sharing microphones and webcam usage.
    • run an activity to find out about students' experiences of using a virtual classroom.
    • agree a code of conduct and expectations for the main classroom and breakout rooms. Document this in your Moodle module and draw students' attention to it every now and then.

Induction templates

Related guidance


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