November 2018 Workshop: Questions and Answers

Post your questions regarding the November 2018 session of the enhancing students’ engagement and learning by integrating synchronous communication into asynchronous courses workshop to this discussion forum. 

Kathryn Wyatt's picture Kathryn Wyatt | November 6, 2018 8:23 am MST

Hi, David.

I asked this question in your blog, but I am happy posting it hither, thither, and yon. :o) The blog post, btw, is terrific and my imagination is in overdrive as I consider how best to implement some of the ideas.

I do wonder about the level of pushback from students, though. They do not all embrace technology. I already have students who will not meet with their teams in real time or even use the in-class instant messenger because they want a 100% asynchronous experience. I have also had students who refused to use the technology that is required for successful completion of assignments.

Given the desire to accommodate all students, how can we ask some students to attend synchronous events while giving others a pass for refusal to participate? 

Douglas Goss's picture Douglas Goss | November 6, 2018 9:56 am MST

I agree with Kathryn in that some students will not participate if these sessions are optional.  That may be the desired result, but it seems to me that we can't really require these interactions due to the variations in time zones, student conflicts, etc.  I could see offering students multiple synchronous options, but then this puts an undue burden on the instructor.  To me, it would be good to offer these sessions periodically throughout a course, and then have a recording of the session for students who cannot attend for whatever reason.  You could give them an assignment to complete related to the video recording.  

lflorence's picture lflorence | November 7, 2018 12:40 pm MST

Hello Kathryn,

You are right that not all students will embrace a synchronous environment even if only for one hour. 

I was considering how I would set up a meeting time in my classes. What I would do is set up the time, but also provide a transcript afterward for those who cannot attend. That way everyone would still receive the same information. Some students need that discussion; others don't.  

It seems UOPX is all about choice and that would simply provide another choice for students who really need that one-to-one communication with teacher and class. But as a requirement for all students? I just don't think that would work.  

David Proudfoot's picture David Proudfoot | November 6, 2018 12:51 pm MST

Hi Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Goss,

Thank you for your contributions to this important topic in our discussion forum. Below is my response to Dr. Wyatt's post on the blog. Dr. Goss adds some additional points that should be considered as well, especially in terms of the challenge of offering multiuple synchronous sessions of the same activity. 



This is a common dilemma that we face as instructors face each day. As one of the leaders of this Special Interest Group for Digital Teaching and Learning Resources, this particular topic has captured my interest to the extent that I have decided to include it in our research agenda this year. This would be an example of applied research with a case study research design where the research team would seek to provide information that can be used and applied in an effort to help people understand and control their environment. This type of research is more prescriptive in nature and seeks to offer potential solutions to problems.

Since this research project has not yet started, my best response to you based on my own experiences is to offer students a choice without altering the objective or assessment. For example, during week 1 of class you may develop an assignment that requires students to introduce themselves and share their educational philosophies. Students can chose between developing a video for this exercise and posting it to the classroom or attend a synchronous “get to know you” type of video chat event and complete the assignment live. The event would be recorded and posted to the classroom afterwards for students to see who did not want to or could not attend the synchronous session. No matter how students decide to complete this assignment, the objectives, requirements, and assessment of the assignment remains the same. 

I encourage you to stay active in our SIG long after this workshop and join our community of scholars to examine, understand and describe phenomenons. I look forward to working with you throughout the workshop and beyond to engage our students. 

Nancy L. Bailey's picture Nancy L. Bailey | November 7, 2018 10:58 am MST


I currently guide a student, writing a case study research design dissertation. 

You point out the value of the design, as an example of applied research, seeking to inform and apply information and help people understand and control environments.  In this case, an alternative disciplinary middle school environment focuses the research study. 

You also add a research study quality, as prescriptive in nature, seeking to offer potential solutions to problems.

The data collection and analysis require word precision in findings and results definitions, especially from the classroom observations data scriptings. 

I suggest using an assessment, similar to Danielson's Framework rating levels definitions, rather than observation percentage reporting.  

Have you other suggestions, helping the student focus on findings reportings and solutions to the problems found in the data results?


maspinwall's picture maspinwall | November 6, 2018 6:37 pm MST

Hi, David.  I am curious... is it possible to use student participation in the synchronous communication as meeting the weekly requirements for participation?  Also, many of the classes I faciltate have a small number of students- often no more than 10 students total.  I am concerned that if I set up a chat time only one or two students would participate making discussion difficult.  Do you have any suggestions?  

David Proudfoot's picture David Proudfoot | November 7, 2018 11:23 am MST


Thank  you for the thoughtful question. We will cover this topic in our synchronous meeting today. However, I can share a bit now with you. The model at UoP does not permit us to require student attendance at a synchronous event and therefore we can not penalize students who do not attend. Therefore, we as instructors have to do our best to accommodate all students' schedules and motivate. In my experiences, I have found that applying adult learning theory assumptions can help to increase attendance at synchronous events. 

For example, while working to build relationships with my students as learners, I seek out information as to what is motivating them to be in their program. I would want to interact with my learners to truly understand what motivates them in the areas of job satisfaction, self-esteem, and/or quality of life and connect the purpose of the synchronous activity to this knowledge. 

As simple as it seems, sometimes we as instructors do a less than satisfactory job explicitly sharing the purpose behind learning activities. It is clear in our syllabus, but sometimes we do not share the purpose during the actual learning activity. I have found that when I am encouraging attendance at a synchronous event that I have higher attendance when I point out why our learners need to know certain information or concepts that will help them to see the benefits of acquiring and consequences for not acquiring the new learning through the synchronous activity. 

Finally, it is important to acknowledge, communicate, and support learners. Some adults can doubt their ability to learn new things and many are often afraid of failure especially when it comes to using new technology tools to interact with their peers. I have found that celebrating and acknowledging students who try to attend or students who are able to successfully attend a synchronous events can go a long way for motivation. If I have the attitude that all students should attend my synchronous event simply because I scheduled the event as the instructor and they are the students, I may not have the same results. 



Lequisha Brown-Joseph's picture Lequisha Brown-Joseph | November 6, 2018 7:36 pm MST


Thank you for the opportunity to participate and I look forward to finding new and innovative ways to engage learners in the classroom setting. I know it can be hard to integrate new technologies, however, I find that if I am excited about using them and integrating them the students also get excited. 

Any thoughts?

David Proudfoot's picture David Proudfoot | November 7, 2018 1:12 pm MST

Hi Lequisha,

Absolutely! If we are excited about a tech tool, more than likely, this emotion will be contagious for our students. One of the take aways for me from the blog was that technology tool integration needs to be deliberate and purposeful for accomplishing the objective. Sometimes educators (including myself) get caught up in the excitement of a technology tool and they introduce it to their students and provide an overview to show how exciting it is to use. This action may be good if you are trying to generate a general awareness and appreciation for ed tech, but more than likely this could be counter productive to our time as instructors and for learners because there is little or no connection to the learning objective. We need to carefully plan how we will integrate different technology tools as shared in the blog. I hope that you enjoy the workshop. I am excited that you have decided to enroll and I look forward to working along side of you as you integrate technology purposefully.



kfmcgovern's picture kfmcgovern | November 7, 2018 4:23 pm MST

As I think about how I can incorporate these ideas into my classroom, one thing that comes to mind is providing virtual office hours.  For instance, I might have open office hours Thursdays from 9-10PM MST where students can come and ask for clarification or en example on the weekly assignment.  This would allow me to show an example of what the assignment is requiring and allow students to get further clarification if they need it.  It could eliminate anxiety for some students knowing they have a specific date and time to come to me for extra assistance. 

Kathryn Wyatt's picture Kathryn Wyatt | November 7, 2018 5:42 pm MST

Hi, That was my first thought, too. I sometimes think that students don't ask for the help they need because they don't want to discommode me or interrupt my personal time. 

As was suggested in the presentation, though, I think I'd want to move the office hours around a bit or have them at different times on different days so that time zones and work schedules would become less of an issue.

Now, to come up with ideas for the student-to-student and student-to-content connections...

Cynthia Jackson's picture Cynthia Jackson | November 6, 2018 8:06 pm MST

Hello Everyone,

Keep in mind that technology has a risk of system malfunctions. System failures in the middle of a synchronous learning environment can be very frustrating for both the student and the instructor. In many cases, the students make an effort to alter their schedules to accommodate class requirements of meeting at a particular time. System malfunctions can often delay or completely put the class to an end making it difficult for some students to rearrange their schedules to adjust to a new meeting time. Also, although many instructors try their best to prepare for any such occurrences, it's difficult to have a plan B when the entire platform that's connecting the instructor with other virtual students goes down. Many times instructors have no control of system failures.




David Proudfoot's picture David Proudfoot | November 7, 2018 1:20 pm MST

Hi Cynthia,

Thank you for your comments. For some reason, your message posted two times so I deleted one of them.  

I agree with you that there is a risk of problems that can occur when we integrate technology tools. Your advice to have a backup plan is very helpful for our group. I have had many situations where there were unexpected situations or problems that happened out of my control which disrupted the learning activity. I always try to over plan and anticipate these types of situations as much as possible. I think of conducting synchronous chat events as a production and it is my job to test it out and do a dry run a week, a day, and hours before the event to help be prepared. Also, I try to establish a tone and expectation that we are a community of learners in the classroom and that sometimes we may not know how to troubleshoot if something occurs and we need additional support. I let participants know that using technology tools is a skill that will develop over time with use. I am actually at the point where I look forward to interruptions and unexpected events because they allow for me to learn through the situation so that I am better prepared for next time. I am constantly reminding myself that there will be situations that will happen and I can not control the actions of others. I appreciate your post to our discussion. 



Cynthia Jackson's picture Cynthia Jackson | November 7, 2018 5:17 pm MST

Hello David,

Thanks for your response and feedback.  We experienced minor technical issues tonight during the webinar.  When technology is functioning well, it's great; however, when there are disruptions/problems, technology is complicated and can be very frustrating.  As I previously stated and as you modeled tonight, the back-up plan will be instituted when technological issues occur.



Valentina Yarovaya's picture Valentina Yarovaya | November 6, 2018 9:13 pm MST

Hi, David,

I am so happy to join the group! It wasn't easy: I am traveling in India and there are so many complications with the time difference, internet connection, and long distances! 

I am looking forward to finding new information about using technology in the classroom. I just learned about University's new T classes project. I think that many students, especially students with different needs who need accommodations will benefit from the courses which have a reduced participation requirement,  fewer writing assignments and doing more of their coursework through adaptive learning technology. I hope the College of Education will start this new format which will help us, faculty, to customize our interactions with students. For example, I could model for different students and provide differentiated instructions to meet their needs.




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