Strategies for Facilitating Synchronous Classes

The following strategies contribute to the success of facilitating and supporting student learning in scheduled synchronous class meetings.

Before Session

  • Prepare an instructional lesson plan or outline/agenda for each synchronous class session (Kelly, 2020) and upload to Brightspace.
    • Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning from the University of Michigan.
    • HyFlex Sample Lesson from Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies
    • View an example of a weekly outline/agenda
      Example of a Weekly Outline/Agenda

      Class will meet on (insert date/time) (Newfoundland standard time) in (insert room location)

      If class is meeting via web conferencing note students will join using (insert Online Rooms or Webex) which you can access via Brightspace. (Provide further instructions and/or link)

      Topics and Learning Outcomes

      • Insert topics
      • Insert learning outcomes

      Participation is based on the following: (see ideas below)

      • Completing this week’s assigned readings and videos
      • Completing discussion board activity
      • Being active during class discussions
      • Submitting your online quiz and/or reflective journal entry
  • Arrange a demonstration of the classroom and online video conferencing technology. Determine what you are responsible for in relation to equipment operation, troubleshooting, and how best to facilitate the session. Visit CITL’s website for ‘How to Guides’ for using classroom equipment.
  • Establish a general class structure and format — how you want to facilitate your classroom (i.e., asking questions, use of camera, online netiquette, and technical issues).
  • Do a ‘practice run’.
  • Upload resources used in the session to Brightspace ahead of time. This will save time in class and allow students to prepare for class, including accessing resources when requiring accommodations (CAST, n.d; Marquart, et al., 2018).
  • For individual, peer or small group activities, display clear directions (i.e., on slide, whiteboard, Google doc) as to what you want students to do (Bergstrom, 2020).

During Session

View Best Practices for Facilitating Synchronous Classes

Best Practices for Facilitating Synchronous Classes

  • At the beginning of class, follow up on activities completed online from previous class.
  • To maintain flow of session and encourage participation from students, build in more formal breaks for question and answer (Kelly, 2019).
  • If teaching remote and in-person students at same time, rotate questions between both groups (Bergstrom, 2020).
  • If an online chat is used, pause class periodically for TA or student assigned to share questions and comments in chat (Dexter & Taylor, 2021).
  • Use online polling tools, such as Mentimeter, to solicit feedback from all students (Dexter & Taylor, 2021).
  • Use Google docs, slides, spreadsheets or fillable PDF documents for students to record notes or collaborate on a document.
  • Use online discussion forums in Brightspace to continue discussion after class.
  • Summarize key points at the end.

Review additional Best Practices for Video Conferencing on CITL’s website.

View Group Work Strategies

Group Work Strategies

  • Provide clear directions on a PowerPoint slide or Google doc.
  • Limit group interactions to 10 minutes or less (Lewis & Hesson, 2021).
  • For physical distancing measures, reduce class group sizes to two or three (Lewis & Hesson, 2021).
  • Have students take the lead to present their group summary.
  • Ask a student participating online and an in-person student with a computer to meet in an online breakout room (Lewis & Hesson, 2021).
  • Assign a Google slide to any group participating online so you can see the interaction taking place, notes they are capturing, and whether additional or less time is needed (Bergstrom, 2020).
View Web Conferencing Features and Uses

Web Conferencing Features and Uses

Table 1: Web Conferencing Features and Educational Uses for Students and Instructors
Feature or Tool Educational Uses for Students and Instructor
Text Chat Share links to resources used (i.e., websites, videos, audio clips, images)
Upload and share a file (i.e., PDF)
Save or copy text chat for review later
Share Screen/Desktop/Program Demonstrate an application
View or refer students to resource on Internet
Present a concept or student presentation
Breakout Rooms Collaborative work
Small group activity
Poll Pre and post assessment
Stimulate discussion and debates
Provide choice
Whiteboard & Annotation Tools Display slides
Solve a problem
Drawing activities
Share and annotate other documents, images, etc.
Emoticons/Reactions Use ‘Raise Hands’ to ask a question
Obtain and give instant feedback (i.e., applause, thumbs up, confused)
Presenter Make a participant presenter (i.e., student presentations, debates, manage slides )
Share webcam/video Get to know each other
Demonstrate a procedure
Role playing
Copy External Link Invite a guest speaker
Adapted from CAST (n.d.) UDL On Campus,

After Session

  • Let students know when and where the recording is available in Brightspace.
  • Add the summary of class meeting to Brightspace.
  • Remind students to complete the follow-up self assessment in Brightspace (Elkhoury & Frake-Mistak, 2021).