Using Video Conferencing Technology to Facilitate Successful Synchronous Learning Sessions

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Synchronous sessions might seem taboo in online learning. Asking adult students to take time out of their busy lives to attend live sessions might seem to be more of an inconvenience than a learning opportunity. In this session, we will discuss the keys to ensuring engaged learning in online synchronous learning.


Heidi Held, D.Ed., is an Instructional Designer here in eLDIG in the Smeal College of Business s at The Pennsylvania State University. She completed her D.Ed. in Administration and Leadership - Higher Education from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She received her M.Ed. in Adult Education from Pennsylvania State University in 2004. Heidi also teaches part-time for Purdue University. Heidi enjoys designing courses, creating video shorts, and working on assessments. Heidi's research interests include (1) benchmarking needs of adult students obtaining a Bachelor's degree; (2) student civic engagement; and, (3) understanding the use and effect of prior learning assessment. Heidi has worked for the Pennsylvania State University for over 14 years in program design, development, and delivery in a variety of capacities. When Heidi is not working at Smeal, she is painting, taking care of her family, or writing both fiction and non-fiction.

Extended Abstract

Relevance to the Community

Use of video and audio conferencing in blended and hybrid online learning courses has a great deal of potential to impact instructional quality, attention and distraction levels of participants and levels of engagement for learners. Overcoming the myths about and challenges that synonymous with synchronous sessions is difficult at best. This session will highlight the experiences of one instructional designer working with 4 faculty teaching a 5-course certificate in entrepreneurship.

Level of Participation

Participants in this session will be provided a brief lecture then asked to break into affinity groupings. This technique allows a group to discover and share ideas that arise at a session or conference and group them into categories, so they can be organized and discussed. Affinity groups will be created around best practices in synchronous learning. Barriers and challenges to implementation will be discussed.


Session Goals

Working within an online entrepreneurship certificate, a once a week synchronous session model was used to add to the fully online learning experience. Through the experiences of one instructional designer, & four faculty teaching 5 courses over a two year period we will examine best practices and challenges to engaging with this kind of learning.  This conference session will share:

  • How the instruction took place and how it was used.

  • How the sessions contributed to the cultural and social presence in the courses, and

  • Best practices used to engage students during the live session time.

The conference session will discuss how the sessions informed the content, best practices for recording sessions, grading participation, and enhancing active learning. An emphasis will be placed on assessment for these sessions, and will highlight student feedback from evaluations of the courses. Research on best practices from the literature will be compared to the experiences of the faculty and instructional designer who brought the certificate online.