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This chapter provides two suggested instructional activities for each of the conferencing tools KPU supports. These tools can support many strategies to help students meet course and program learning outcomes.

Please note that resources should be provided for using the chosen conferencing tool for all suggested instructional activities. Ideally, students should be introduced to the chosen conferencing space before engaging in the activity (a practice session), so they can test their equipment, webcams and microphones.

All of the suggested instructional activities in this chapter have been adapted from and inspired by resources in KPU’s knowledge base, and the Open Educational Resources referenced at the bottom of this page.

The following instructional activities are included in this chapter:

Platform Activity 1 Activity 2
BigBlueButton Small group discussions Collaborative brainstorming
Microsoft Teams Student presentations Socratic dialogue
Zoom Case studies Debates

 


BigBlueButton

Small group discussions

Description: Peer to peer discussions can deepen learning, broaden perspectives, and generate new ideas. Breakout rooms in BigBlueButton afford the ability to create small groups and provide spaces for these focussed conversations.

 

Participation: Group

 

Features required:

  • Main Room
  • Public Chat
  • Whiteboard
  • Breakout Rooms
  • Shared Notes
  • Microphone

 

Formative Assessment:

What do students already know before entering the BigBlueButton space? Students will need at least some foundational knowledge of the content before beginning this activity. Instructors can host a large group discussion at the beginning of the session in the main room to reinforce the key points. Ask students to use the public chat to pose comments and questions, use this opportunity to fill in any gaps.

 

Breakout Group Set-up and Discussion:

Provide the question or statement that students should discuss. This can be displayed in the main room on the whiteboard through text or by uploading a PowerPoint slide onto the whiteboard area. Groups can be given different questions if the objective is to discuss multiple topics. Once the students know their question or statement, let them know your expectations; for example, how long will you break them into separate spaces to discuss the topic? How many members will be assigned to a group? Will this be a randomized activity, or are students placed into groups by the instructor? Make students aware of the expectations of their participation. Being explicit with instructions in online spaces is vital to student engagement. Break students into their discussion groups and ask each group to assign a note-taker and a timekeeper to not lose track of time and come back to the main space with key discussion points for the large group post discussion.

 

Post-breakout Discussion: Checking for Understanding

When breakout sessions end, ask the group note-takers to share their key points in the shared notes space and summarize the key points through the microphone feature. Let all students know that they can use the public chat to ask questions and type comments about the topic. Dynamic small group discussions can usually be determined through students’ chat during this portion of the activity. Take time to identify misconceptions, gaps in understanding and highlight key points connected to the course material. Export the shared notes and distribute to students for post-session reflection and study

 

Collaborative Brainstorming

Description: Students collaborate and share ideas freely to solve problems, reach collective goals, and identify common course themes or concepts. This synchronous activity can deepen learning experiences by exposing students to multiple perspectives.

 

Participation: Group

 

Features required:

  • Main Room
  • Public chat
  • Whiteboard
  • Breakout Rooms
  • Shared Notes

 

Formative Assessment:

What do students already know before entering the BigBlueButton space? Students will need at least some foundational knowledge of the content before beginning this activity. Instructors can host a large group discussion at the beginning of the session in the main room to reinforce the key points. Ask students to use the public chat to pose comments and questions, use this opportunity to fill in any gaps.

 

Collaborative Brainstorming set-up and discussion:

Provide the problem or concept that students should dissect, discuss, and generate ideas about. This can be displayed in the main room on the whiteboard through text or by uploading a PowerPoint slide onto the whiteboard area. Once the students know their problem or concept, let them know your expectations; for example, how long will you break them into separate spaces for a brainstorm? How many members will be assigned to a group? Will this be a randomized activity, or are students placed into groups by the instructor? Inform students of the expectations of their participation. Being explicit with instructions in online spaces is vital to student engagement.

Break students into their brainstorming groups and ask each group to capture their ideas in the breakout room’s shared notes and export them before their session closes (1min remaining is recommended).

 

Post-breakout Brainstorming: Checking for Understanding

When the breakout rooms close and students arrive back into the main room, ask groups to copy/paste their notes into the main room’s shared notes space (They can still retain their separate notes if needing these for a group project)

Let all students know that they can use the public chat to ask questions and type comments about the generated ideas, solutions, and themes. Dynamic small group discussions can usually be determined through students’ chat during this portion of the activity. Take time to identify themes, comment on ideas and solutions, identify misconceptions, gaps in understanding and highlight key points connected to the course material. Export the shared notes and distribute to students for post-session reflection and study


Microsoft Teams 

Student Presentations  

Description: Student presentations allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Cohorts can meet synchronously in Microsoft Teams with small or large groups. Internal and external guests can join via a unique meeting link generated when the meeting time is created.

 

Participation: Group or Individual

 

Features required: 

  • Main Room
  • Microphones (optional)
  • Public chat (optional)
  • Raised hand icon (optional)
  • Share Tray (Share-screen Icon – optional)

 

Student presentations set-up: 

Prepare a presentation schedule and make it available to students. Ensure that students are clear about your expectations; for example, how long are the presentations? What time should they arrive at the space? (recommend at least 5 mins early as not to disrupt the presentation), who will introduce the presenters? Manage incoming guests? Inform students of the expectations of their participation and about being a good audience member. Let students know the level of participation expected as an audience member and how questions and comments during the presentation should be contributed, for example, using the public chat feature or raised hand icon are a couple of methods, and asking audience members to hold thoughts until the end of the presentation is another. Being explicit with instructions in online spaces is vital to student engagement and participation.

Students can open a PowerPoint, download a file, or navigate a website on their device and use the share tray to share their screen and present it to the audience.

 

Post-presentation 

When the presentation has ended, encourage students to share their comments and questions in the public chat or on microphones and allow the presenter(s) to address them. Take time to identify themes, comment on ideas and address any misconceptions or gaps in understanding connected to the presentation material.

 

Socratic Dialogue

Description: Socratic dialogue is an approach to questioning that can be used as an effective method to explore in-depth concepts and to challenge assumptions.  The Greek philosopher Socrates, postulated that the disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning enabled students to examine and validate or dispel concepts and ideas. Socratic dialogue can be used to promote deeper thinking and the development of reflective practices

 

Participation: Group

 

Features required:

  • Main Room
  • Public chat

 

Formative Assessment:

What do students already know before entering the BigBlueButton space? Students will need at least some foundational knowledge of the content before beginning this activity. Instructors can host a large group discussion at the beginning of the session in the main room to reinforce the key points. Ask students to use the public chat to pose comments and questions, use this opportunity to fill in any gaps.

Socratic dialogue set-up and format (Grant, 2007, p.2):

Plan significant questions that provide meaning and direction to the dialogue

Use wait time: Allow at least thirty seconds for students to respond

Follow up on students’ responses

Ask probing questions

Periodically summarize in writing key points that have been discussed

Draw as many students as possible into the discussion

Let students discover knowledge on their own through the probing questions the teacher poses

 

Grant (2007) provided a sample dialogue to highlight this method (p. 3):

Teacher: What is happening to our global climate?

Stan: It’s getting warmer.

Teacher: How do you know it’s getting warmer? What evidence do you have to support your answer?

Stan: It’s in the news all the time. They are always saying that it’s not as cold as it used to be. We have all these record heat days.

Teacher: Has anyone else heard of this kind of news?

Denise: Yeah. I have read about it in the newspaper. They call it global warming, I think.

Teacher: Are you saying that you learned about global warming from newscasters? Are you assuming they know that global warming is occurring?

Heidi: I heard it too. It’s terrible. The ice caps in the Arctic are melting. The animals are losing their homes. I think the newscasters hear it from the scientists that are studying the issue.

Teacher: If that is the case and the scientists are telling the newscasters, how do the scientists know?

Chris: They have instruments to measure climate. They conduct research that measures the Earth’s temperature.

Teacher: How long do you think scientists have been doing this?

Grant: Probably 100 years.

Candace: Maybe a little more than that.

Teacher: Actually, it’s been studied for about 140 years. Since about 1860.

Heidi: We were close.

Teacher: Yes. How did you know that?

Grant: I just figured that seems like when instruments were available, and scientists had the means to measure climate like that.

Teacher: Okay. Let’s take a minute to review what we’ve discussed so far.

 

Post-breakout sharing and reflection: Checking for Understanding

When the dialogue winds to a close ask students to contribute final thoughts in the public chat space and use this as an opportunity to highlight key takeaways and identify any muddy points

References:

Grant, M. (2007). The Socratic Questioning Technique. Designing effective projects, Intel Corporation.https://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/program/education/us/en/documents/project-design/strategies/dep-question-socratic.pdf

 


Zoom

Case Studies

Description: Case studies can be used to illustrate the application of a course concept to real-life situations. Students work together to formulate a response to the provided scenario with a solution that would be reasonable based on their previous theoretical knowledge of similar situations or conditions presented in the case study. Case studies can provide a deeper understanding of decisional consequences.

 

Participation: Group (synchronous) Individual (providing the case study prior)

 

Features required:

  • Main Room
  • Public chat
  • Breakout Rooms
  • Shared Notes

 

Formative Assessment:

What do students already know before entering the BigBlueButton space? Students will need at least some foundational knowledge of the content before beginning this activity. Instructors can host a large group discussion at the beginning of the session in the main room to reinforce the key points. Ask students to use the public chat to pose comments and questions, use this opportunity to fill in any gaps.

 

Case studies activity set-up and discussion:

Present case studies or instructions to the students and provide an overview of the specific deliverables they are tasked with, such as what components must be addressed or what questions must be answered – direct the focus to the case study’s essential aspects and make it explicit. In higher-level courses or courses using a case study as a more extensive assignment or project, instructions and access to the case study may be required to be presented days, or weeks, before engaging in this activity.

Once the students are aware of the task at hand, let them know your expectations; for example, how long will you break them into separate spaces for the case study examination and discussion? How many members will be assigned to a group? Will the case study be given to the groups, or will the groups be allowed to select or construct a scenario? Inform students of the expectations of their participation. Being explicit with instructions in online spaces is vital to student engagement.

Break students into their case study groups and ask each group to capture their ideas in the breakout room’s shared notes and export them before their session closes (1min remaining is recommended).

 

Post-breakout sharing and reflection: Checking for Understanding

When the breakout rooms close and students arrive back into the main room, ask groups to copy/paste their solutions and ideas into the main room’s shared notes space (They can still retain their separate notes if needing these for a group project)

Let all students know that they can use the public chat to ask questions and type comments about the generated ideas, solutions, and themes. Dynamic small group discussions can usually be determined through students’ chat during this portion of the activity. Take time to identify themes, comment on ideas and solutions, identify misconceptions, gaps in understanding and highlight key points connected to the course material. This is an excellent opportunity to explore decisional consequences and to explore alternate solutions with the entire group collectively. Export the shared notes and distribute to students for post-session reflection and study

 

Debates 

Description: Debates can foster communication and critical thinking skills, and exposure to multiple viewpoints, evidence, and opinion can provide students with new opportunities to construct new knowledge and can be an engaging and active, learner-centred activity.

 

Participation: Groups

 

Features required: 

  • Main Room
  • Public chat
  • Breakout rooms
  • Whiteboard
  • Recording feature

 

Formative Assessment:

What do students already know before entering the Zoom space? Students will need at least some foundational knowledge of the content before beginning this activity. Instructors can host a large group discussion at the beginning of the session in the main room to reinforce the key points. Ask students to use the public chat to pose comments and questions, use this opportunity to fill in any gaps.

 

Debate: 

Students will need to be divided into three groups: Pro/Affirmative, Con/Negative, and the Debate Judges. Depending on the debate teams’ desired size, you may want to host several sessions with different groups and replicate this activity.

Provide a topic statement to debate, for example: “be it resolved that climate change is the biggest threat to humanity.”

Provide breakout rooms for each group and allow research time for the teams to reflect on the resolution and to prepare for the debate – this could happen weeks before the session depending on the depth expected (Note: The judging team could be identifying criteria they will use to judge the statements)

Be explicit with expectations for etiquette in the breakout rooms and the main room, such as level of formality, use of slang and emoticons in the public chat, etc. and behaviour expectations – being courteous and respectful.

Inform groups how long the debate will last and the structure for the debate. Here is a suggested structure:

After the research preparation time in the breakout rooms, all groups return to the main room. The debate opens with a member of the affirmative team presenting their arguments, followed by an opposing team member. This pattern is repeated for each team member.

Once every group member has had a chance to weigh in, you can provide time for a “scrum” where all group members can banter and counter debate points.

Judges should be taking private notes as the debate proceeds and given time post-debate to meet with their group, reflect and provide an overall summary and final decision on who has presented the strongest points (can be done on a later date or discussed post-debate in a breakout room) Once the judges have provided their thoughts, the discussion should be opened for questions, discussion and general feedback from the instructor.

Instructors should closely monitor the conversations while the debate period is open and swiftly address any behaviours or etiquette issues.

All groups, including the judges, should cite any external references during the debate and provide formal references once the discussion has closed. You may want to incorporate a reflective paper after the debate and include it in the marking structure.

 

Post Debate:

Export the public chat and distribute the document to students for post-session reflection and study. Provide students with the session recording when available to provide an opportunity to review and reflect on the debate points.


Open Education Resources:

License

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Conferencing Tools for Teaching & Learning: Best practices by KPU Teaching & Learning Commons: Lisa Gedak & Chris Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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