Learning in a Literacy-
Focused Online Course
Peggy Semingson, Ph.D.
Synchronous Learning, Professional Learning Community
• This project improved upon previous work I have done with synchronous
teaching and learning in online courses in literacy teacher education. I
have done group webinar sessions with undergraduate students,
however, the problem has been attendance has been low with students
preferring to watch the recording of the webinar rather than attend the live
webinar session. I incorporated a three-fold approach to getting my
students more actively involved with synchronous learning for a high
engagement approach. This included: 1) Implement three required “high
engagement” small-group required webinars throughout the class. 2)
Foster student awareness and use of synchronous learning as a tool to
design lesson plans and 3) Students will participate in a virtual book club
to discuss a children’s book for the course using the synchronous tool
Blackboard Instant Messenger. Overall, the webinar and the instant
messenger experience were very different tools with differing
affordances and constraints.
• I had four questions in which I wanted to improve my integration of synchronous
learning (real-time learning):
• The questions that need answering are:
1. What are high-engagement strategies for engaging preservice teachers with course
content via synchronous learning in an online literacy-focused teacher education
2. What are students’ reactions to the high-engagement small group webinars, based
on their interaction during the webinar (chat window and audio) and in their post-
3. What are student’s ideas for implementing synchronous learning in their own
future teaching, as evidenced by their brainstorming for possible lessons that
integrate synchronous learning?
4. What are the ways that students use a chat-based synchronous instant messaging
tool to participate in a student-centered virtual book club experience?
• Learning outcomes included:
1. Students will participate in learning
of course content within a virtual
classroom while interacting with
classmates and the instructor in a
2. Students will interact and
participate with classmates about
their reader response to a children’s
novel in a chat-based synchronous
3. Students will consider the
possibilities of synchronous learning
in elementary classroom settings
and create lesson ideas about
integrating synchronous learning
into lesson design.
I already use a lot of asynchronous (non-real-
time media with students).
While the asynchronous media provides
interaction with me on some level,
synchronous learning is much more direct
Not yet implemented
Three webinars (PowerPoints)
• http://www.slideshare.net/TinkerbellTexas/webinar-1-list-4373 Webinar 1
• http://www.slideshare.net/TinkerbellTexas/webinar-2-list-4373 Webinar 2
• Students preview the content before and after the webinar.
• Interactivity: Polls, Chat window dialogue, demonstrations, “try it
out”/application in real-time, question/answer, immediate feedback.
• A reflection is required.
• Student Reflections
1. What did you learn during the webinar
(recap and summarize)?
2. What specific resources did you learn
about that will be beneficial and how can
you use them? Also, if you explored any
websites, put what you explored and
what you learned.
3. Describe your level of participation in the
webinar session and your level of
understanding of the key course topics.
4. What feedback do you have on the
webinar experience itself (e.g.,
technology, methods used, use of
audio/video/chat to facilitate learning, etc.
for future use?)
• Professor Observations of course
• Difficulty of design
• Preparation for each session
• Structure of the session
• Observed affordances and
1. Blackboard Instant Messenger was easy to set up and get
2. Level of instructor preparation was about the same for both Instant
Messenger and the videoconference sessions
3. More interactivity can take place during the videoconference
sessions; instant messenger is constrained in terms of added context,
visual aides, and video use.
4. I will not be using Blackboard Instant Messenger for book club chat
again; I will have students set up their own videoconference groups
and I will help moderate those.
5. Pacing was not adjusted accordingly for the Blackboard Instant
Messenger. Pacing was ideal for the interactive webinars.
6. Scheduling for BBIM chat: Doodle was ideal for scheduling and
grouping students in small groups! I will use this tool again.
• Continue BBIM as a just-in-time learning tool. (See
image to the right).
• Reconsider the use of BBIM as a small group
dialogue activity. Pacing of small-groups was
• Continue to seek ways to make webinars
• I will continue to use tools for scheduling real-time
• Increase the use of webinars across all courses.
• Continue to seek ways that synchronous learning
is used/can be used in K-12 settings.
I use meme-like visual reminders to let
students know they can reach me in real-
Peggy Semingson, Ph.D.
I am also on Instagram
(TinkerbellTexas) and slideshare
I love multi-media, visuals, and interactive
teaching and learning!