Strategies for hosting live (synchronous) lectures

First, decide whether you need to deliver your lecture live.

What purpose will a live session serve for your students? For example, having live lectures provides a schedule that can help students who struggle with task initiation to stay on track. However, given that students’ schedules may be disrupted, recording a lecture and posting it online is often a preferable option. If you do plan to host a live lecture, be sure to record it so that students who are unable to attend (or have technical issues during the lecture) will be able to watch the recording later.  We suggest that live lectures occur during the regularly scheduled on-campus class time. 

Tips for hosting a live lecture

  • Plan beforehand. Let students know when the synchronous session will take place and how to log in. Upload your slides before the session starts. Have your notes on hand. If you’re going to use the whiteboard feature, practice ahead of time.

  • Have a timeline in mind so you don’t run out of time.

  • Break your lecture into topic chunks so it’s easier for students to digest the information presented. Consider providing time between chunks for questions (via chat or Q&A), or for assessing learning (via polling).
  • Let students know how you’re going to handle questions, based on the size of your class and the number of TAs you have available to assist. Options include:
    • addressing questions during your live lecture. If the class is large, you can ask your TA(s) to monitor the Chat; or
    • responding to questions after the session. Ask students to post questions to Discussions in LEARN.
  • Be sure to clarify your expectations about students use of these tools (e.g engage respectfully, avoid posting links to extraneous resources, and so on).
  • If you choose to record yourself on screen, be sure to look at your web camera occasionally to create a sense of connection with your students.
  • To avoid background noise, especially when addressing larger groups of students, you can mute all mics automatically. For smaller groups, you may simply want to remind students to mute their microphone at the very start of your session.
  • If you are uploading slides, "less is more" on your slides. Remember, you are not displaying this in a large lecture hall. Students may be connecting with devices with varying screen sizes so small details on slides may be difficult to discern.
  • Post a lecture title slide (course name, lecture title, instructor name) so students who arrive early into the virtual classroom know they are in the right place.
  • Have a back-up plan. If the technology doesn’t work for some reason, don’t panic. Let students know that you will record the full lecture later and post it to the course website.
  • Post critical information (e.g., websites you may be referring to) in a chat window or in Announcements in LEARN after the lecture.
  • Start and end on time.
  • Post an announcement in LEARN when the recording is available.