What are the pros and cons of synchronous learning, and under what circumstances is it best to use?
Synchronous learning allows teachers to get quick feedback from students and maintain classroom culture. It can reduce the impact of isolation on students, encourage collaboration and make it easier for students to ask for clarification.
Teachers can also give feedback quickly to the class, have short discussions with the whole class or groups of students and know instantly whether students have received the feedback.
It can be difficult to monitor multiple video feeds for a long time, and students may also struggle to maintain focus during an extended session of direct instruction.
Running an effective web conference and participating well are skills that take time to develop, so do not expect to be able to run your class as if it were face-to-face.
Using web conferencing in a targeted way can be a part of effective online learning delivery.
When to use
- Quick 10-minute sessions to start and end the day.
- A 10-minute video conference to begin the day.
- A whole-class video conference at regular times during the week (e.g. 30 minutes every Monday and Friday afternoon).
- A video conference to check in with each individual student each week.
- On-demand video conferencing (40min max.) - students can sign up if they want to book a session.
- Small group video conferences to introduce a topic for students with similar needs (40min max.).
- Optional 'live recess' to allow students to connect and hang out.
- Team teach.
- Turn off webcams to protect student privacy.
- Remember NOT to record your students.
Guidelines to support using live video
The NSW Department of Education has been working together to review the position on the use of live video to support principals and teachers who wish to utilise live video to connect and engage with the students in their class where it is possible. As a result, guidelines have been developed to support schools using live video
In response to the rapid usage of Zoom, the department has entered into a 90 day trial with an enterprise licence that is linked to your department logon using the Single Sign On (SSO) experience.
We also have Microsoft Teams which enables live video and can be inbuilt within your class setup on Teams.
Both of these products are being supported within the department and the department is working closely with Microsoft and Zoom to ensure we can maintain safety and security for our staff and students.
The key messages within these guidelines:
- Consider your school community and whether this is or isn’t something that you want to utilise as part of supporting students who are learning from home - not everyone can access live video classroom sessions.
- You are coming into your students family home and they may be coming into yours – consider how you manage this using the features within both Microsoft Teams and Zoom to blur your background (Teams) or use a blank backdrop screen (Zoom).
- Do not record your lessons with students.
- You can pre-record your own lessons so they are available anytime and on-demand.
- Bandwidth and times of the day. 9am will be a peak time.
- Stagger check-in/-out times across your school to reduce network impact.
- Parents and students may be competeing for bandwidth so offer pre-recorded versions of live lessons and run check-ins more than one time of the day to support families.