In It Together: Online Synchronous Classes and Social Construction of Knowledge

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

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Brief Abstract

Synchronous online class sessions through web conference offer a multitude of benefits to students including:

  • supporting student to faculty and student to student connections,
  • allowing for real time discussion and problem solving,
  • supporting group work and peer to peer learning,
  • developing a class community,
  • decreasing anxiety in online learners, and
  • supporting the creation of a professional network between students.

The presenter will discuss this model and infrastructure required to implement it, drawing from research and experience in developing and supporting several professional development programs at Seattle University.


I am lucky to be the Instructional Designer at Seattle University's College of Education. I love working with faculty and helping to design courses, and connecting people and information. Over the past 2 years at Seattle University I have guided the development and launch of three endorsement academies for working K-12 teachers. These are a series of professional development classes for working K-12 teachers seeking an endorsement to teach Math, Special Education, or English Language Learners. I also work with faculty in our other departments, including Adult Education, Development, and Training, Masters in Teaching, School Counseling and Psychology, Principal Development and Certification, and Educational Leadership. My background is in Information and Library Science, Design, UX, and Visual Arts.

Extended Abstract

The presenter will discuss the benefits of a synchronous online class model as well as its difficulties and infrastructure requirements.  This talk will be based on the Seattle University College of Education’s Endorsement Academies which use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities in their curriculum.  These are online programs for working K-12 teachers that are seeking an endorsement to teach a particular high need subject (math, English Language Learners, or Special Education).

In these programs participants meet twice a week in synchronous (live), online classes through web conference (using Zoom) and complete asynchronous activities and homework based in their LMS (Canvas).

Synchronous class sessions help to build community in these classes, connecting K-12 teachers that live distances apart and may be the only person in their district or building with their endorsement specialty.  Participants in the program have expressed that they are able to connect with others from their specialty area through these classes, creating a network support system and diminishing their isolation.  Web conferencing allows for real time, meaningful conversations and discussion, and the co-construction of knowledge.  Peer to peer learning is enhanced as participants engage in small group discussion and group projects.  The presenter will discuss the research that led to and supports this model.

The synchronous, online class model has many benefits and can appeal to those that may have an aversion to fully asynchronous classes, though it cannot be implemented without careful thought, planning, and support.  The presenter will discuss these topics from experience in developing and supporting the Seattle University programs.