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Following Up After Synchronous Sessions

Site: SCoPE - BCcampus Learning + Teaching
Group: Facilitating Learning Online - Synchronous May 2020 (Group 1)
Book: Following Up After Synchronous Sessions
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 12 August 2020, 2:20 AM

Practical considerations for following up

The follow up that you may choose to do after facilitating your synchronous online session likely will vary depending on the purpose of your session and the content and activities of your session. It also may vary depending on whether the session was "standalone" - an event in and of itself - or part of a longer, asynchronous course, and whether there were people absent that need to be caught up on anything that happened in the session.

Here are some more things to think about:

Sending out a link to the session recording

If you recorded your synchronous session, sending out the link to the recording is a time-sensitive follow up task. Especially if the session contains information that is either "nice to know" or "need to know" for your participants in order to be able to proceed with the rest of an asynchronous course that the session is a part of, sending out the recording link soon after the session is important. It may also be a good idea to:

  • highlight key messages of the session in your follow up email or discussion forum post to give your participants the "quick and dirty" of what was discussed/happened
  • include actual timings of when key events happened in the session so that participants can find them easily if they should review them

You may even want to go as far as converting the session into an. mp4 file and chopping it into smaller pieces for your participants to review - it's up to you! Note that in some platforms, such as Blackboard Collaborate, the conversion to the .mp4 file splits the various parts of the session into pieces and only what was visible on the whiteboard is shown in the .mp4. (Some of the "Synchro Sessions" in Week 2 are examples of what this looks like, e.g. Hassan's, Megan's sessions etc.)

Sending out additional resources

During your session did you (or someone else) promise to send out additional resources after the session? Were any documents or URLs posted in the chat area for all participants that should be shared with others who weren't at the session? These additional resources may also be important to capture and send to participants in an email or discussion forum post after the session.

Additionally, if you used a PowerPoint deck for your session, you may wish to send this out to your participants.

Reflective practice

Reflective practice as a facilitator is important no matter what kind of facilitation work you engage in, and no matter which mode - in person or online. Taking the time to engage in reflection about your facilitation skills and the impact of the session on your participants should be an important part of your teaching practice overall. Additionally, when facilitating in a synchronous (or asynchronous) online environment part of your reflection should include thinking about where you are at with your technical skills.

Many of us probably always do the kind of reflection that happens "off the page" - simply reviewing the session in our mind and thinking about how it went, replaying some scenes over in our mind. We would also like to encourage you to do some written reflection, perhaps in a web-based or paper journal that you've set aside solely related to your teaching practice. Set aside time in your schedule soon after your synchronous session to make time for reflection. It may even be a good idea to do your own reflection prior to reading your participant evaluations (if you asked for them) so you don't let the evaluation results overly influence your initial reactions.

Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt, in "The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for Professional Development" (2011, pp. 153-154) provide a long list of suggested descriptive and reflective questions that you can use after facilitating any online learning experience. These are some of those questions that are particularly relevant for facilitating in synchronous online environments:

Descriptive Questions
  • Learning Outcomes
    • What learning outcomes did you establish for your learners?
    • Did they meet the outcomes? How well?
    • What activities did you use to achieve the outcomes?
  • Learning Activities
    • Did your learning activities promote interaction among learners?
    • How extensive or robust would you say discussion was?
    • Was the majority of interaction learner to learner or was it primarily directed to you as the instructor?
  • Technology
    • Were all learners able to access and use the technology?
    • Were there any technical issues that emerged?
Reflective Questions
  • What was the learning experience like for learners?
    • Did they meet expected learning outcomes?
    • Did they seem to enjoy the class and the learning experience?
    • Were students motivated and involved throughout?
    • Were there any surprises or unexpected benefits to students?
    • What informal feedback did you receive along the way?
  • What was the learning experience like for you as the instructor?
    • Were there challenges? If so, how did you meet them?
    • Did you feel supported in your teaching experience by staff and colleagues?
    • Did you enjoy the teaching experience?
    • Did your work online allow you to express your preferred teaching style, values and beliefs about learning?
    • Did you develop some new approaches?
    • What worked well?
    • What would you do differently next time?
    • What advice would you give to a colleague who was about to teach the same online course that you taught?
    • What advice would you give to a colleague who was about to develop an online course?

Reference

Palloff, Rena M. & Keith Pratt. (2011). The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for professional development. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Evaluating your session

Levels of Evaluation

Choosing whether or not to informally or formally have the participants evaluate your synchronous online session depends (again) on your session's purpose and objectives. If you are holding a standalone session that is a workshop for colleagues in your field, for example, you may want ask for their feedback in an evaluation. However, if you are using a synchronous online platform to hold unstructured office hours or you simply want to begin to build community with your participants at the beginning of a longer, asynchronous course, you may choose not to have your participants evaluate the session. Do what you think is best in alignment with your purpose for holding the session.

If you choose to evaluate at some level, here are some options:

Informal feedback

The most informal level of evaluation might be to ask participants for their brief, qualitative feedback on the session. An example is a simple, three-question Stop / Start / Continue sheet (PDF) or something like it. This type of formative feedback opportunity could be especially useful if you are gathering feedback for changing your behaviour/content in future sessions.

These types of informal feedback sheets can be anonymous if desired.

Opinion-based

The eLearning Guild, in their Handbook on Synchronous e-Learning (2007), talk about using "smile sheets" as a "Level 1 evaluation" after a synchronous online session. This kind of evaluation asks participants for their opinion about how the session went and their satisfaction with it. Question areas could include how the participant felt about:

  • the content and activities of the session, including materials
  • the pace of the session
  • your own facilitation of the session
  • whether they would attend again
  • how they might apply their learning from the session to their own situation

Or if they had any difficulties with registration, connecting to the session, etc. These types of evaluations could include qualitative or quantitative questions and can also be anonymous if desired.

Assessing learning

In some cases you may need to focus your evaluation more on measuring learning that has occurred with your participants during the session. What has changed for them as a result of participating in the session? If this is the level of evaluation that you choose to do, you will likely want to look back at your intended learning outcomes that you have set forth for the session and tie your evaluation questions specifically to those outcomes. Here you are attempting to measure whether your participants actually do know/do/value want you intended for them to be able to by the end of the session. In this vein, this type of evaluation likely shouldn't be anonymous.

You may wish to think about the timing of sending out this type of evaluation. It could be that you will learn more about what participants have actually been able to retain if you allow some time to pass before sending out your evaluation.

These types of evaluations could also include qualitative or quantitative questions and are arguably the most sophisticated (and difficult!) of the three kinds of evaluation mentioned here. Effective assessment of learning is, of course, also the subject of an entire other course!

Accomplishing Evaluations Technically

There are many options for how you technically set up your evaluations in the synchronous online environment. Some of the ideas below may take more work to set up, and some may take more work to collate later (e.g. paper-based).

Type of Evaluation Ideas for Accomplishing it Technically
Informal feedback
  • Questions on PowerPoint slide and poll use in the session itself
  • Questions on PowerPoint slide and asking for responses in the Chat area of the session itself
  • Link to poll tool in your learning management system (e.g. Moodle Choice); for one-question polls only
  • Sending out a .pdf or Word document feedback form by email after the session
Opinion-based
  • Link to survey tool in your learning management system (e.g. Moodle Feedback)
  • Link to Google Form, Fluid Survey (Canadian servers) or Survey Monkey
  • Sending out a .pdf or Word document survey by email after the session
Assessing learning
  • Discussion questions facilitated in the session itself
  • Link to quizzing tool in your learning management system (e.g. Moodle Quiz)
  • Link to Google Form, Fluid Survey (Canadian servers) or Survey Monkey
  • Sending out a .pdf or Word document quiz by email after the session
  • "Muddiest point" or one-minute papers
  • Etc, etc!

Have we missed any evaluation options that you have used or seen used that could work in concert with synchronous online sessions? Post in the Week 3 Discussion area to share your experience or questions and we can add to this list.