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OLTC Micro-Blogs: Perceived Challenges – Navigating the Synchronous Classroom

By Sally Cunningham and Alisha Winter

Incorporating online learning into the traditional classroom brought forth numerous challenges and opportunities. Through our work as students-as-partners, we were able to help navigate these uncertainties and discover paths through the untread territory. Each week we share examples of common perceived challenges and how we collaborated with instructors as OLTCs to design for delight.

Navigating the Synchronous Classroom

Many professors prior to the pandemic had never needed much technology in the classroom. Moving the entirety of their classroom online seemed like a monumental task, especially with all the jargon of “scheduled meetings,” “breakout channels,” and chat shorthand thrown in.

One drama professor struggled to envision how his class might look in a Microsoft Teams room rather than in-person. Together, we came up with a plan to navigate the options in a Teams call to mimic the feeling of watching a performer, clapping for a performance, spotlighting actors, screen-sharing assignments, and monitoring the chat. After much practice, the professor now runs his class smoothly as he calls out for students to turn cameras on or off to spotlight one performer and the students develop the habit of unmuting to clap for their fellow classmates. A student in his classes remarked: “I am so impressed by how well the technology runs and how quick the students are to pick up the protocols and cues. ‘Cameras on! Cameras off! Mics on to clap! Mics off!’ It should be chaotic but it works really, really well”.

Despite the perceived challenge of translating a high-engagement discipline like drama to online learning, both the students and professor are pleased with the new opportunities afforded by the medium.

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