Preparing for Synchronous Sessions

Knowing your tools at hand

Before we dive into talking about designing your session and the elements that you should consider when doing so it may be useful to talk about the tools that you will have at hand in your synchronous online platform.

While it's not usually effective or recommended to start designing a learning event thinking about the online tools you would like to use and then building your design accordingly, it does make sense to be at least aware of the tools you will have available in order to design a session that is indeed possible to carry out in your platform.

Now, no two web conferencing platforms will be alike, but many will have similar features and tools. For example, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra currently offers us the ability to:

  • share audio and video
  • use a collaborative 'whiteboard' that all participants in the session can view and draw/write on
  • upload and view PowerPoint slide decks
  • put participants in virtual breakout rooms
  • ask our participants one-question polls
  • share our desktop or an application on our desktop so that participants can see something on our own computer
  • have our participants raise their virtual hand
  • have a live text chat with others in the room

Get to know the platform that you will be using for your synchronous online work and then have its capability and functionality in your mind as you start to design. Remember, it IS possible to use other web-based tools (such as wikis or other collaborative web-based tools) in concert with your web-conferencing system.