Five top tips for delivering live online learning

Scott, Esther and the Jisc training team reflect on the first two Jisc online workshops and provide their top tips for things to look out for when delivering live online learning.

Over the last couple of months we’ve been working with the training team to create our own live online learning workshops for our members. Note the term “online workshop” – not webinar!

Live online learning with a coffee to hand :-)

(Image available on Pixabay under a Creative Commons CC0 licence).

Webinars can be passive experiences where you receive information. Interactivity can be quite low-key and participation in the session might be limited. We don’t want to lecture to people. That’s not what we are about at all.

We want to create an online experience that makes the attendees part of the session itself. An experience where their views matter and input is key. With this approach in mind we want to share with you our top tips and the benefits.

Top Tips for live online learning

1) Build in a rehearsal or two before going live with a trusty co-pilot. This is a great way of testing out the tech and the activities to make sure everything is working. Most platforms for delivering live online learning include a range of tools – such as drawing tools, chat, polls, and so on. It can be a challenge managing these and focusing on what you are going to say. Get yourself a guinea pig or two to practise on first!

2) Working with a co-pilot can be invaluable. You’ll receive important feedback and insight on how to refine what you are doing. Sometimes that can be as simple as double-checking that the images in your slide deck are appropriate and reflect the cultural diversity of our learners. It might involve reflecting on the different strategies to communicate your message, such as trying out chat pod discussions, opening up mics or even using breakout rooms.

name twitter

3) Keep the numbers to a manageable limit (especially if the attendees are all fresh to the platform and don’t know each other or the tutors). We decided on fifteen as an upper limit. Fifteen allows us to keep the session a little more personal and gave everyone an opportunity to network, have their voices heard or their input recognised. This would be challenging with larger numbers and would detract from the overall experience.

network tweet

4) Delivering synchronous online learning takes a lot of concentration, especially if it’s more than a couple of hours. It also takes a hit on your voice. Time seems to contract when delivering online as opposed to face-to-face. Seconds of silence can seem like an eternity online. However, don’t be afraid of pauses and don’t feel that you have to race through the session like it’s a sprint. Take it steady – and keep a couple of drinks nearby to keep your voice lubricated.

poll tweet5) Refer to the people in the session by name. Comment on what they have typed in the chat panel. This makes them feel included and keeps them alert. Being able to use people’s names during a session is a good way to keep them engaged (the so-called ‘cocktail party effect’).

pronounce name

Find out more

If you’d like to take part in one of our online workshops we are planning to deliver more over the coming months. Currently we have online workshops on Supporting learners’ digital identity and wellbeing, Developing learners’ employability skills and one on Digital storytelling where you can register your interest. You can also catch up on Twitter by following the #jisconlineworkshop hashtag.

By Scott Hibberson

Subject Specialist (Online learning) at Jisc.

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