Facilitating a live online session (LOIL)

How to run a LOIL session

Here are some simple ideas to embrace when running a live online session:

  • Activate a virtual background so that students aren’t distracted by what’s happening behind you. If students are using a camera, ask them to do the same.
  • Arrive early for your online sessions, to check your audio and camera are working and to admit students from the waiting room (where this feature is being used). In Zoom, participants cannot enter the virtual classroom until a host has started the meeting. Talking informally with students as they arrive can help build relationships.
  • Brief your co-hosts, assistants or guest speakers and let them test their audio/video in advance. You could set up a separate channel so you can quickly liaise with co-hosts about any issues or changes.
  • Try to start on time. If you or your students are having technical difficulties, provide students with an update, via chat if necessary, of when the session will start.
  • Remember to press record if you want to create a consolidation and revision resource for students, or make the session available to online-only students (recordings made via Zoom will be transferred automatically to Panopto, so that you can link to the correct Moodle space).
  • Let students know how cameras and mics will be controlled, timings of activities, how to participate (eg raise hand or chat box). This helps clarify what students are expected to do, where and when. Have a ‘practice run’ at the start of each unit to make sure everyone can do what’s expected.

There are some techniques that you can adapt from your face-to-face teaching to facilitate LOIL sessions:

  • Challenge students to listen, to think, and to explain—and guide them to a more thorough and deeper application of key concepts.
  • Pose questions that encourage deeper reflection or enable students to consider alternative perspectives.
  • Don’t share your opinions initially and try to avoid playing the role of the “sage on the stage”.
  • Help groups talk to each other. You can use questions to draw groups into discussions:
    • Does your group agree with this answer?  Why did you agree?
    • Could we hear from a group which disagrees?
    • Are there any other options for a correct answer?
    • What might be wrong with the answers you have heard so far?
    • Based on this discussion, what do you think is the best answer?

Managing interaction

  • Interaction can take different forms – interaction between students, with the learning material or with teachers. As the connection between participants is less intimate in larger groups, you may want to avoid live Q&A during the session, but make use of the chat and polls to focus attention on key ideas. 
  • Consider using another member of staff, or GTA, to help monitor and summarise the comments from the chatbox, or raise hand function. If you don’t have a co-facilitator, then you could collect questions in advance or set up a designated question time. You could capture and edit the chat comments after the session and post online as a useful summary.
  • Encourage students to make use of the non-verbal feedback icons to indicate if they have a question or don’t understand something.
  • Post a link to a shared document or Padlet in the chat, so students can live edit a shared document with comments and questions, while you screen share the document for everyone to see.
  • For large groups, it may be more effective to run an asynchronous discussion over several days, instead of a live discussion. This can be more useful for students working across different time zones and around other commitments. The teacher interaction becomes more flexible as teachers can contribute and encourage participation over several days. 

Gathering feedback

A quick wrap-up activity can provide useful feedback. Provide some prompts for students to complete, for example:

  • The clearest point of today’s class was …
  • Something that confused me or I would like clarified.
  • How I prepared for class today.
  • What I wish had been discussed during today’s class.

Further resources

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles