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Best practice for online sessions

  • On this page you find practical information for how plan and carry out online sessions.

Norwegian version – Anbefalt praksis for nettbaserte økter

About online sessions

Online sessions can be digital teaching sessions, meetings or other real-time interaction activities. Meeting students digitally can reduce the amount of face-to-face communication compared to physical, in-person lessons or activities, so other steps need to be taken to create a good atmosphere in online sessions.

On this page you will find general recommendations and tips relevant for preparing and executing online sessions as well as tips for how to follow up and conclude after an online session.

Preparation

Good planning and preparation are of great importance to the participants' experience and are the most important success factor for good online sessions.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the available technology, how to fully use the technology and support resources available
  2. Create a draft implementation plan
    What, who, how and why?
    Read more about roles and rights
    Interaction and collaborating in online sessions
  3. Recommendation: If you have more than ten participants, you should include someone who can follow up on the comments section and help you solve problems along the way. Make an appointment with a colleague or learning assistants in advance.

Communication

Clear and precise communication with the participants can contribute to a better user experience. For students, you can send an Announcement in NTNU's learning platform, Blackboard.

  1. Important information to participants in advance:
    • What is going to happen?
    • How should this be done? Time, date, planned activities, link to participation etc.
    • What academic preparations do the participants need? Activities, subject matter etc.
    • What technical preparations do the participants need? Camera, microphone, browser, software etc.
    • Where can participants turn for practical questions? Contact information for key contacts 
    • Where can particpants turn for technical support? NTNU Help 
  2. Test session
    The first time you conduct an online session, it is advisable to set up a test session for the participants so that they can test their own equipment. This can help reduce problems in online sessions.
    Tip: Schedule a test session of the technology to be used during the semester as part of the welcome offer for new students at the faculty, institute or study program.
  3. Send a reminder to students the day before, especially if it’s not a timetabled session.

Other resources:

System defined roles in online sessions.

Different online technologies often give participants and the hosts of online sessions different rights. The meeting owner (moderator or host) is often able to change participants’ roles during the session. Try to discuss beforehand who will have what role. Students are normally participants without the rights to change the session settings or present. Lecturers, student assistants and administrations might need to have more rights in a session, they will more likely need to be moderators or co-hosts. Guest lecturers or students who are presenting work might need to have certain permissions but not others.

Here are some common roles and concepts you may encounter in various tools used for online sessions. The rights may vary between the tools.

  • Participant (deltaker)
    For students and participants.
    This role can:
    • raise their hand
    • write in comment field / chat
    • enable own microphone and webcam participation
    • participate in polls and other interactive activities 
  • Presenter (presentatør)
    The role fits when someone is leading or presenting parts of a session, such as guest lecturers or students.
    This role can do everything that a participant can, they can also:
    • share content (presentation, application etc.)
  • Moderator or host(vert)The person responsible for the session. This role is often automatically assigned to the person creating the session initially.
    Rights in addition to the above:
    • assign / change new roles to participants
    • override participants (mute sound, remove from session)
    • change session settings
    • start reconciliation and other interactive activities

Recommendation: It is a good idea for everyone who is going to be contribution to, or moderating, the session to be a moderator or co-host role at the begynning of the session.

During an online session

Tips for success

  1. Technical
    • ensure a stable network connection (wired network recommended if possible)
    • good sound quality is more important than image (headset with USB cable is best)
  2. Practical
    • make sure you sit in a place where you will not be disturbed
    • hang a 'do not disturb' sign on the door
    • avoid backgrounds that can draw focus away from content
    • allow time for questions, both during and at the end of the session
    • make sure you are well lighted, from the front
    • avoid strong backlight (from window or the like) this leads to dark video image
    • adjust your own webcam angle so that the entire face is visible from a good angle
    • the best camera angle is front and center; avoid camera angles from below and up (use books or under the laptop to raise the camera angle)
  3. Create closeness - reduce digital distance
    • dare to be on camera
    • using the first names of participants can contribute to a greater sense of community and can give more authority, but be careful about using names if the session is being recorded
    • start with a little informal and warm dialogue with the participants
    • encourage and facillitate participant interaction 

 

Before starting the session

Allow for early sign-in (15-30 min) before start up time. Setting up a ‘hold screen’ and background music can help participants troubleshoot possible technical problems and confirm that they are in the correct session.

Recommendation: create a startup presentation with background sound and practical information that plays. Include technical and practical advice.

Recording online sessions

Read more about videorecording and GDPR here: 

After the session

  • Share links, files and other material from the session
  • Publish any video footage
  • Remember: Universal Design for Learning (UUL) subtitle of video
  • Possible follow-up to participants
  • Reminders, user surveys, next session, etc.

Do you want to learn more?

Contact

This page is written and maintained by the Teaching and learning center and the Multimedia center

Please contact us through NTNU Hjelp if you have any questions or feedback.