Facilitating an online seminar

As part of online teaching our academics are facilitating more and more online seminar sessions. These are mainly using Teams, but some sessions use Zoom. We have been sharing what works well and what doesn’t and here are some of the tips so far.

Before the session 

  • Prepare – have a plan in your head, even if you don’t share it with students. Decide when exactly things are going to happen e.g. when will you run a poll.
  • Create teaching notes or add notes to PowerPoint slides. 
  • Have a clear goal for the session e.g. “we are going to come up with 3 recommendations for Defra on xxxx”.

 

At the start of the session 

  • Arrive reasonably early to give yourself time to deal with any issues.
  • Warm up activity e.g. getting people to write in the chat where they are located, or scribble on a Whiteboard their favourite snack.
  • Informal chat – start with an informal catch up but then announce the official start of the session.
  • Technology – Run through the buttons with students at the first session, suggest they mute mic and turn off video if lots of them.
  • Video recording – be clear on if the session is being recorded, explain who it will be available to and how people will get hold of the recording.
  • Assign roles – ask one student to take notes, one to check the chat, one to keep an eye on timings etc.
  • Questions – decide how you are going to deal with these. Should people raise their hand, should they ask in the chat, should they wait till the end of a talk? Should questions be prefixed with a Q so you can easily pick them up?
  • Provide clear expectations for students e.g. you should set yourself a target to write 2 chat comments and make 1 audio comment.

intro-slideDuring the session 

  • Share something – could be slides or notes, gives students something to look at and comment on.
  • Break time – Get everyone to stand up and touch their toes half-way through!!
  • Chat – Encourage people to use it.
  • Group activities – people go off, start their own Team meeting and then come back and share feedback.
  • Timer – time different activities e.g. we are going to talk about A for 10 minutes, then talk about B for 10 minutes, we then will decide on C
  • Polls (use Whiteboard, use forms, use Polly, use Polleverywhere or another free tool).
  • Questions in chat – add in questions to the chat and get students to comment on them.
  • Try group work e.g. breakout rooms in Zoom.
  • Online quizzes.

At the end of the session 

  • Closing comments e.g. Write one word for how you feel today’s session went.
  • Follow up activity e.g. Write a paragraph reflecting on the areas or agreement and areas of disagreement.

General 

  • Practice with your colleagues. Test out your ideas.
  • Start simple, don’t be too ambitious till you have got your head around the technology.
  • Build your confidence.
  • Be understanding about other people’s fears about technology and sharing in an online space.
  • Enjoy!!

Resources