It has been called in many ways: Live Online, Web Live, Synchronized Online, or Virtual Live.
This modality combines live synchronous sessions with traditional aspects of distance learning, such as course materials and online activities. This style, of course, has been a lifesaver at all levels of education during the pandemic, especially for instructors unfamiliar with learning management systems (LMS) like Blackboard, Canvas, or D2L. In minimal time, not-so-tech-savvy instructors were able to take training or work with instructional designers to learn video conferencing tools while getting their proven assessments submitted online.
This article is provided by the Instructional Technology Council, a council affiliated with the American Association of Community Colleges.
As classes return to potential post-pandemic normality, many of these same instructors are breathing a huge sigh of relief as they return to their long-vacant rooms. Meanwhile, as enrollment continues to pour in, institutions are considering course offerings as they see increased demand for distance offerings. Many colleges have decided to keep “live online” as an option for students, but how do you move this modality from a pandemic “band-aid” to a rigorous and robust method of course delivery?
Promote remote student support resources
Student support can be easily navigated on campus, but can be a challenge for remote learners. Despite the face-to-face time spent in live sessions, we must remember that live online students are still distance learning students and need access to the same resources as “traditional” online students.
Outside of the classroom, the onsite student utilizes various physical campus resources to provide support for issues such as counseling, tutoring, library assistance, or health and wellness. Online students will also need access to these resources, and due to the pandemic, many colleges have developed new processes for fully remote student support. This needs to be communicated effectively to online students through the LMS, as their courses are their primary link to campus.
Live instructors or instructional designers will need to think about what services students will need and ensure they are accessible through course shells via links, announcements, or dedicated student support pages. Because course design and scheduling is customizable, instructors and designers can easily organize support resources based on course, major, or other commonality within the course demographics.
Ensure students have access to technology to succeed
One of the biggest challenges community colleges faced when bringing their entire facility online during the pandemic was accessibility to technology. Many campuses knew this was a problem, but they could help by providing campus-wide Wi-Fi and modern computer labs. Without access to these technology support services, students and even some instructors have struggled to maintain course quality and engagement.
The pandemic has not improved the socio-economic situation of our students, and while technological processes have seen some innovation, students may still struggle to access the technology needed to effectively enroll in online modalities. online like live online. Ideally, colleges could implement technical requirements for courses, such as a specific device requirement or proof of internet requirement, but is this a fair imposition for open-enrollment institutions?
Even as campuses have reopened and these resources are readily available to students, educators can’t forget one of the key appeals of remote learning: remote flexibility. Students may not be able to come to campus. The obvious answer is that students don’t have to take a course, they can’t guarantee active participation, but with low and fluctuating enrollment fewer options are on offer and scheduling required courses will be complicated. This question is a complex balancing act between modality functionality and student accessibility.
Reevaluating technology fees can help ensure students have access to the right technology.
Reassessing Substantial Teacher Interaction
Finally, we need to address school-level issues, such as how online live categorizes substantive teacher interaction. Since this is designated facilitated class time, should credit hours be calculated the same as traditional face-to-face classes?
Throughout the pandemic, many live online instructors have experienced disconnection between students in web conferencing classes, often caused by students not using their cameras or simply logging in and out. Instructors felt that this had a negative impact on their approach and personality in class.
Even though students and instructors are physically connected through a video conferencing platform, there are different challenges and approaches to establishing the same connection as in a physical classroom. There is a valid argument that this “zoom and dark” may have been just trial and error as instructors become accustomed to an unfamiliar, imposed modality. But because the “live” component is not equal to the face-to-face classroom, instructors and administrators need to consider which elements of distance learning best practices will help reinforce substantive interaction in lessons. live online.
Live online classes weren’t born out of the pandemic, but the modality was quickly thrown into the mainstream over the past three years. A common criticism of online courses was the lack of instructor guidance or student accountability – live online provides a potential solution. Many educators still see the potential in this style of course delivery, as it offers some of the flexibility of online courses, but the benefit of additional instructor support. Live online has an interesting journey ahead as instructors, instructional designers and administrators refine and shape what this “band-aid” will become.