Synchronous Interaction

What is synchronous learning? 

Synchronous learning is when students are engaged in learning (lectures, activities, etc.) at the same time; however, it does not have to happen in the same place. Essentially, synchronous learning happens in real time. Students can log into live web conferencing from anywhere in the world.

What are the advantages of synchronous learning? 

  • Students can ask questions in real-time. 
  • Students can become more engaged in their learning, by interacting with their peers. 
  • Students can increase collaboration and build a stronger sense of classroom community. 

What tools are best for synchronous learning?

There are many tools available in Blackboard available to use for synchronous learning. We’ve broken these down into various categories to show how you can use tools in a variety of settings. 

Tools for presenting and sharing information

  • Lecture capture 
  • Collaborate 
    • Whiteboard 
    • Sharing slides/files 
    • Sharing screen 
    • Polling
  • Webex 
    • Whiteboard 
    • Sharing slides/files 
    • Sharing screen 

Tools for demonstrating

  • Lecture capture, Collaborate, and Webex
    • Demonstrate yourself online via video 
    • Demonstrate yourself via screen share of software 
    • Invite an expert guest to speak and demonstrate

Tools for debating and discussing 

  • Collaborate and Webex 
    • Breakout groups 
  • In person and online
    • Making spaces in sharing information for questions to and from students 

Tools for collaboration 

  • Collaborate and Webex 
    • Student group meetings 
    • Full class meetings 
    • Meetings with outside experts or community members 
  •  Google Docs 

Tools for checking for understanding 

  • Lecture capture, Collaborate, and Webex 
    • Checkpoint during lecture 
    • Student presentation on topic 
    • Student moderation of discussion and/or chat 

Tools for socializing and team-building 

  • Lecture capture 
    • Ice breaker 
    • Think-pair-share
  • Collaborate and Webex 
    • Open office hours for conversation 
    • Breakout groups for teamwork 
    • Virtual games 

Tools for getting and giving help 

  • Lecture capture 
    • Public: chat 
  • Collaborate and Webex 
    • Private: office hours 
    • Public: raise hand, whiteboard, chat 
  • Google Doc 
    • Collect questions in a “parking lot” 

Tips for moderating a synchronous discussion

When facilitating discussions, there can be different moderators: instructors, TAs, and students. Below are some tips for the different types of moderators. 

Instructor/TA as moderator

  • As the moderator, you:
    • Provide presence and expertise 
    • Correct assumptions 
    • Post follow-up questions 
  • In this case, the moderator should:Model how students should present themselves 
    • Highlight good responses during live lectures
    • Repeat questions (or write in chat) so distanced students can hear 
    • Take down questions if you’re running out of time and answer them later in email or Blackboard

Student as moderator

  • Having students as moderators: 
    • Increases engagement 
    • Puts students in a leadership role 
    • Encourages collaboration among peers 
  • Students as moderators can: 
    • Prepare discussion questions and pose in class
    • Monitor distance learning chat so instructor can remain “speaker”

General tips for moderators 

  • Keep the discussion running smoothly and on topic
  • Help elicit thoughts and opinions
  • Manage group dynamics
  • Does not have to be one specific person