Page 27 - Campus Technology, August/September 2017
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CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | August/September 2017
Engage Everybody in Scheduling Decisions
An initial meeting was scheduled by Mullinix and run through Skype, which worked well enough for a first gathering. But to strengthen the community “just a little more,” she wanted the participants to sort out scheduling as a group activity. For that, she started with tricider, a service that allows somebody to ask a question and invite others to submit their ideas and vote for their favorites. In this case, the question she posed was straightforward: “When should we schedule our Summer 2015 Research Forum Synchronous Meeting?” Her students were asked to post days and times that were best for them to meet and then to return to the site to specify which, among all of the choices, were their top three picks. All the votes from that step were plugged into a Doodle poll, to expose where the choices converged. By allowing participants to see everybody’s results and understand how the group progressed to its decision, “it [created] understanding across the board,” said Mullinix.
Go for Simple When Choosing Where
to Conduct Virtual Sessions
Although Skype was where the meetings started, it wasn’t where they ended. “It’s great. It works fine. It gives me the screen sharing that I want in addition to people’s voices,” said Mullinix. But, she added, it also has its complexities: “I have to know their Skype ID. They have to accept me or I have to
accept them as a connection. Then I have to build a group and I have to place the call.” Other choices included Google Hangouts, but that turned out to have a “bit of a learning curve.” Zoom, the latest preference, has the same features as Skype with one advantage: It’s simpler to enter a virtual gathering. No pre-installation needed, no sign-up required. “You send a link out to people, they click on it and they’re in,” she explained.
Also, no matter when the virtual sessions took place, inevitably some participants couldn’t make it. Attendance was deemed optional. Zoom allowed Mullinix to record the session and post it as an on-demand session that people could view when they had the time.
Find Common Topics (Though It Will
Be a Challenge)
It may be that everybody is moving in lockstep through the material in your course, in which case sorting out the topics to cover during a given session will be more apparent. That wasn’t the situation for Mullinix’s research forum, in which each member was at a different stage in his or her dissertation work. Nor will it be the scenario if your class follows a personalized or competency-based learning approach. In most cases, some participants will be further along than others. Her approach early on was to have the group “talk across the entire experience” within the program to enable participants to “see where they fit and where others were.” That discussion helped
them feel like part of the community. It also helped them get a sense of where they might be able to take the lead for a given discussion, which they would then facilitate during an online gathering.
Use Back Channel Conversation to Keep People Connected
To accommodate community members’ need to stay connected outside of the synchronous sessions, Mullinix introduced her students to a couple of tools. lets the user create a room link, share the link with others and allow them to come in for conversation on the fly. TodaysMeet, an education tool, acts like an enclosed version of Twitter. “You don’t sign up. You go to a website. You punch in the name of what you want your room to be and immediately it’s running,” said Mullinix. Her forum class has also used TodaysMeet for feedback and back channel conversation during virtual sessions. When the expiration set by the original user comes up days or weeks later, the contents vanish.
Share Information
Most educators are familiar with Google Forms, SurveyMonkey and Poll Everywhere for gathering information. What’s less well known: Padlet and Socrative.
Padlet is an online service that lets people share content. Mullinix described it as a wall space “where you can put sticky

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