Go Live! Best Practices for Synchronous Online Teaching

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Synchronous online teaching can effectively address the challenge of personalizing the online learning environment by facilitating live interaction among students and instructors. Let’s explore how to design and deliver a synchronous online class that will optimize the use of live sessions, while still maintaining the flexibility of online instruction.


Kate Grovergrys is a Spanish professor at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin. In her current position, she has developed and taught introductory, intermediate and advanced Spanish courses in a variety of formats including face-to-face, hybrid, online and accelerated. Prior to teaching at Madison Area Technical College, Kate taught Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Lourdes High School in Rochester, Minnesota. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from Valparaiso University in Indiana, and a M.A. in Spanish Literature & Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. In 2012, she became certified as an online instructor when she completed the E-learning and Online Teaching Graduate Certificate at UW-Stout. She is passionate about language teaching and enjoys fostering an engaging learning community in her classes.
Tina Rettler-Pagel is a Faculty member and Chief Online Learning Officer at Madison College, in Madison, Wisconsin. Tina holds a B.S in Education with an emphasis on Emotional Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S. in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has an Ed.D. in Student Affairs Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Tina has completed an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Online Teaching Certificate, as well as participated in OLC's Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) in 2017. Her research interests include retention and persistence in the online classroom, the success of women of color in online learning spaces, women in higher education leadership and governance, digital equity, and community college approaches to teaching and learning. Tina's hashtags? #Mom #Partner #CommunityCollegeProud #OnWisconsin #A11yAdvocate #OnlineTeaching #Includer #Kindness #Connector #OnlineLearning #TechNerd #Resilience #StrongGirlsStrongWomen #Hockey #Fishing #AnythingSummer #JamMaker #Perseverance #SayYesToNewAdventures #ComeAsYouAre #StartWhereYouAre #ImpostorPhenomemon #Access

Extended Abstract

In many cases, online teaching has become synonymous with asynchronous instruction.  This session will challenge that assumption, while at the same time examining the challenges and limitations of synchronous online instruction. 

Synchronous online course design can personalize the online learning environment and help to build community in online courses.  In addition, the live online class sessions can provide alternative ways to facilitate group work and assess student learning.

That being said, live online class sessions are not easy to design and deliver effectively.  It’s not as simple as merely repurposing face-to-face lesson plans for online delivery.  The synchronous components of the course need to be effectively integrated into the pedagogical design of the online course.  Anything that can effectively be done asynchronously should continue to be done asynchronously.  The live class sessions must be strategically reserved for only those learning activities that will most greatly benefit from a synchronous delivery. 

Also, there must be a well-designed onboarding process for students.  Live online class sessions can be intimidating for students, who may not be comfortable appearing on video and interacting with classmates in an online setting.  Students must first be allowed to find their comfort with the technology, before instructors start to assess their performance in live online class.

Certain best practices for the design and delivery of live online class can help to ensure that the use of live online class sessions will optimize the learning experience for students.

The presenters will share practical information about how they have designed and implemented a successful model for synchronous online instruction at Madison College in Madison, WI.  The presentation will include the following elements:

  • Video and audio to show synchronous online teaching in action.
  • Video and audio to show students engaging in synchronous online learning.
  • PowerPoint slides to delineate the framework and visual imagery for discussion and activity.
  • Live online polling questions to draw out information from the participants.
  • Full group activities requiring participation via chat messaging.

Through interactive methods, such as live polling and chat messaging, the participants will be asked to "think outside the box" and explore the many benefits, limitations, challenges and successes of synchronous online teaching.  Participants will participate in a live online post-it affinity process to gather their thoughts, ideas, opinions and questions.