5. Fortnightly synchronous Q&A session

A fortnightly informal catch up synchronous session using tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams are often seen as valuable by students.

Advertising a time where academic staff will be available online for a general discussion and Q&A about what is coming up in the subject is appreciated by students, particularly as assessment looms. For students who cannot attend the live session, you can provide ways to ask questions in advance and make responses available in a recording.

How to implement this in your subject

Step one: select and prepare your synchronous tools

If using Zoom:

If using another tool: Ensure you have student- and staff-facing instructions on how to use the technology.

Step two: consider timing and schedule your sessions

Use Canvas Calendar to add the sessions to the Canvas calendar. Depending on the tools you have chosen, include Zoom links, email address and links to technology support. If using Zoom, choose one of the following options:

Step three: set up forum for questions

Consider how you would like students to ask their questions. It is useful to provide ways that they can send questions in advance, particularly if they cannot attend the live session and plan to watch the recording. It also allows you to prepare your responses, along with any supporting resources. You could:

  • Create a Canvas discussion for students to post questions. You can streamline your workload by allowing students to ‘like’ other students’ questions, rather than repeating it. Following the session you can upload the recording to the discussion.
  • Create a pre-session Canvas survey in the LMS. This could include free text fields for student questions and also Likert scale questions on areas of priority.
  • Create a poll in Zoom to run at the beginning of the session.

Step four: prepare for and run your synchronous session

  • It can be useful to send a Canvas announcement as a reminder the day before the session.
  • Prepare your responses to prior questions, along with any resources or links to share on screen or in chat.
  • Set up a quiet and organised space where possible. If using Zoom, log in to the meeting room and ensure it is working as expected.
  • Remember to record the session to make available to students afterwards.
  • Provide a combination of supportive and constructive feedback, so the student (and other students watching) feel inclined to give answers to future questions. Find out more about strategies and skills for small group teaching in Melbourne CSHE Sessional Teachers’ handbook. Be mindful of the way you respond to individual students, and how your feedback may be received, as is not easy to interpret body language in synchronous sessions.

Step five: follow up after the session

  • Make the recording available in the LMS.
  • Follow up on questions you were not able address in the sessions. Find links to relevant student support resources and share these in a Canvas announcement, discussion or ‘mail bag’ video .
  • Sometimes you may want to schedule one-on-ones or small group meetings following the session. You can use Canvas Scheduler to invite students to sign up for an appointment within your virtual office hours or other set times.

Support and resources

You can use this guide to implement the 2020 category two Learning and Teaching Initiatives.