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April 2013 - Dr. Keith Restine, Associate Director of TLT

If you decide to use synchronous tools, we suggest you spend sufficient time preparing your students.

Consider Scheduling Implications

Remember, many of these students took the course because they have complicated schedules that make it impossible or impractical to take F2F courses. Students deserve to see the dates of required synchronous sessions at registration to make informed choices about courses. Suddenly adding additional requirements that remove flexibility must be handled carefully. Ask yourself if getting together using Collaborate is really necessary and if it is the best way to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. One alternative might be to work with students to reach consensus about times and dates for sessions but make the sessions optional. The most important thing to consider is why you believe synchronous meets the learning needs of the students and to query them about possible options or schedule problems.

The Synchronous Contract

The synchronous contract is an informal or formal contract where students agree to minimize distractions, learn required tools, learn synchronous etiquette, and fully participate in the synchronous session. Your part of the contract is to use this precious time wisely and to take advantage of the medium. You can write the agreement and have students sign it or mark as reviewed.

 
Adapted from: Finkelstein, J. (2006). Learning in real time: Synchronous teaching and learning online. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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