From Anne M. Ho, Ph.D.

  1. Establish Norms: Think about which norms need to be discussed in an online environment. Example: My current online class (33 students) has agreed that everyone is muted during whole class discussions until they want to speak. When they want to, they don’t need to “raise their hands,” but they un-mute themselves, state their name (since we might be looking at another screen instead of each others’ faces), and then share their thoughts. In the small groups (breakout rooms), they tend to all stay un-muted the whole time. So far, I haven’t had any issues with people interrupting each other on purpose, and when it happens on accident, they sort it out very quickly! Edit: Another logistical process is to remind your students to check the time zone for synchronous classes!
  2. Try the Host vs. Participant Views: Take turns seeing what the “host” vs.”participant” views look like (the meeting host can assign someone to be a “host” through the “Manage Participants” menu). Highlights:
    • The host can open breakout rooms, which is super useful for group work! The host can also record meetings. In general, they can grant people permissions on the “Manage Participants” menu (e.g. to record, to become a host, or to become a co-host).
    • The participant has a slightly different menu under “Manage Participants.” The main difference is the hand-raising button.
  3. Utilize Breakout Rooms: If you have time, have everyone try out being the host for breakout rooms. If not, at least have everyone participate in the breakout rooms once. Highlights:
    • The host can manually assign or automatically assign groups.
    • The host can move from room to room.
    • All participants can share their screens. In particular, there is a built in “Whiteboard.” People who aren’t the owner of the whiteboard have an annotation option (see menu at the top of the screen on a PC). Warning: explicitly save the whiteboard before the breakout rooms end otherwise they may lose their work!
    • Students can ask for help in a breakout room if the host isn’t present.
    • The host can send messages from their breakout room window, but it has a character limit and just flashes the message on the participant screens. I’d recommend using this sparingly.
    • When the host closes the breakout rooms, there is a countdown timer (default 1 minute), so that people can wrap up their discussions before going back to the main room.