From Advising to Increasing Engagement in Courses: Enhancing Your Online Programs with Web Conferencing

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In an effort to increase learning, community, and retention in distance learning programs, a growing number of advisors and online faculty are enhancing their online programs via purposeful integration of web conferencing. This session will present several current web conferencing tools and suggested best practices for effective web conferencing in online programs.  


As a Professor, I teach educational technology and instructional design courses via the Canvas LMS platform, while integrating other technologies as applicable (i.e., web conferencing, mobile applications). As an Instructional Designer, I develop face-to-face and eLearning content for corporate trainings. I earned an Ed.D. from the University of Delaware in Educational Leadership (with specialization areas in Educational Technology and Curriculum) in 2013, as well as an M.Ed. in Educational Technology in 2010. I also have a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Education. I am experienced in educational technology curriculum research, planning, and design for both K – 12 and adult learning, with emphasis on instructional technologies. I have over ten years teaching experience, including K-12 students and undergraduate adult learners. In 2009, I was honored to be named Teacher of the Year for Milford School District in Delaware. During my years as a teacher, I also completed two summer internships as a writer for NASA (Technical Writer-2008, News Media/Public Affairs-2009). I now serve as a NASA Student Ambassador.

Additional Authors

Nancy Swenson has a MA degree in Educational Technology from the University of Central Florida. She has a B.S from Florida International University in Business Education. Nancy has worked at the Center for Distributed Learning at UCF as an Instructional Designer since 2000. Prior to working at UCF, she taught business education classes in the public school system for 13 years. She has also worked as an adjunct with Florida Virtual School, Valencia Community College, and the University of Central Florida. Her online teaching and learning research interests include usability, accessibility of online education, quality of online courses, and universal design for learning. Nancy has presented on similar topics at a variety of conferences including: EDUCAUSE, EDUCAUSE Southeast, SLOAN-Consortium International Conference on Online Learning, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Webinar, and Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Annual Conference, and Accessing Higher Ground, Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN)

Extended Abstract

Student-student, student-faculty, and student-advisor interactions are critical components in establishing an engaging and successful online program. Interaction and engagement are essential ingredients of any teaching and learning environment, whether that is face-to-face classroom-based, synchronous/asynchronous online education, or blended models (Woo & Reeves, 2006). While many online instructors successfully integrate asynchronous tools such as discussion boards and email communications, a growing number of online faculty and advisors are supplementing and enhancing their online program interactions via synchronous communication methods, such as live chats and web conferencing. This session will focus on the purposeful planning and effective integration of web conferencing activities in the online learning environment. The following web conferencing tools to be discussed include, but are not limited to: Lync/Skype for Business, Adobe Connect, and the Canvas Conferences Tool.

It is generally known that the success of many online courses is contingent on the nature of student-student and student-faculty interaction (Picciano, 2002). As such, careful planning toward meaningful and engaging, online course experiences, like web conferencing, is key. While the asynchronous platform allows opportunity for real-time student-student and student-faculty interactions, structure and leadership is critical (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005). Considering the role of the instructor or advisor in providing web conferencing activities that can both engage and promote potential, increased academic success for the online student, this session will also discuss recommended best practices from planning considerations, such as appropriate lesson examples and accessibility, to software and troubleshooting preparation. An informational take-away and other related, shared resources for the participants will be provided.