“What is a Virtual Classroom?
Creative Ways to Use Synchronous
Learning to Personalize
October 7, 2015, 2:00 pm, Eastern Time
Topic: Synchronous Tools in Teaching and Learning
Peggy Semingson, Ph.D.
Dana Owens, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Arlington
• Synchronous learning (such as videoconferencing),
although it has been used across many contexts, is
fairly new to use in distance education (teacher-
student and student-students).
• This webinar session provides high-interest, research-
based strategies so that participants in the webinar can
incorporate synchronous learning (real-time learning)
in both individual and group settings in their own
• We will also provide concrete tips drawing on our
experiences as distance educators in literacy teacher
Background of Presenters
• Both presenters have extensive experience
designing and teaching online courses in Literacy
Students to pre-service and in-service teachers.
Our Master’s degree program in Literacy studies
is 100% online.
• We are active and regular presenters of research
and best practices at SITE conferences.
• Both have participated in University-sponsored
Professional Learning Communities related to
Dr. Peggy Semingson
Dr. Peggy Semingson is Associate Professor of Curriculum
and Instruction in The College of Education at the
University of Texas at Arlington where she has taught
graduate and undergraduate courses in Literacy Studies
since 2008. Dr. Semingson taught bilingual students as a
classroom teacher and a reading specialist for eight years
in both Southern California and Texas. She received her
M.Ed. in Reading Education from Texas State University,
San Marcos in 2004 and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and
Instruction with a specialization in Language and Literacy
Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. In
higher education, she is the recipient of the UTA
President’s Award for Excellence in Distance Education
Teaching (2010). Most recently she was awarded the
prestigious Platinum level – Best Practices Award for
Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching from the United
States Distance Learning Association (2013). In 2013 she
was the recipient of the prestigious Regents’ Outstanding
Teaching Award from the UT System.
Dr. Dana Owens
Dr. Dana Owens is a clinical assistant
professor in the College of Education and
Health Professions at the University of Texas
at Arlington where she teaches graduate and
undergraduate courses in Educational
Technology and Literacy Studies. Dr. Owens
taught elementary education for twelve years.
She has taught graduate and undergraduate
courses in Literacy and Educational
Technology since 1998. Dr. Owens received
her Ph.D. in Reading Education with a
specialization in Computer Education and
Cognitive Systems from the University of
North Texas in 2000.
Poll: Your Experience
• Do you have experience with:
• Synchronous learning? (Yes/no)
• Do you have experience with:
• Digital mentoring via videoconference or chat
Brief Overview-Highlights of Research
• Very brief overview of highlights of recent
research regarding synchronous learning,
with focus on its importance and role in
distance teaching and learning in higher
education will be shared.
• Definition and scope of synchronous learning
will be shared.
• Examples of classification of different types
of synchronous learning.
• “In technology-enhanced learning environments,
learners’ expectations toward e-learning have been
growing toward on-demand, anytime/anywhere and
high-quality instruction (Ely, 2003; Khan, 2005).”
• Technical quality is very important to the synchronous
experience; audio quality is essential. Students felt
positive about experience. (Grant & Cheon, 2007)
• Transactional distance theory (Moore & Kearsley,
• Community of Inquiry framework (e.g., Garrison,
Anderson, & Archer, 2000; Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007).
Annotated Bibliography & For Further
• Research articles and practical “how to get
• Clay, C. (2012). Great webinars: create interactive learning that is
captivating, informative and fun. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
• Finkelstein, J. (2006). Learning in Real Time: Synchronous teaching
and learning online. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
• Murphy, K. L., Mahoney, S. E., Chen, C. Y., Mendoza-Diaz, N.V., &
Yang, X. (2005). A constructivist model of mentoring, coaching, and
facilitating online discussions. Distance education, 26(3), 341-366.
• Garrison, D. R. (2015). Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a
community of inquiry. London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.
Defining Digital Mentoring
• a) synchronous learning
• b) digital mentoring in “real
time”/synchronous learning either with
teacher and student or a student meeting
with another student (or students) in “real
Several vignettes or examples
• Ways I have implemented digital mentoring
with graduate students 1-on-1 in a 100%
online Master’s program in Literacy Studies
will be shared and discussed.
• Tips for implementing this practice and how
to get started.
Guiding Student in
Research in Real-Time
• P: Have you gotten on the library databases yet for the library website?
S: Yes. It’s a lot of information on a website. I’ve looked up. Which one was
it. It was one of them. Oh here it goes…You had recommended scholarly
literary journals. I looked up the Journal of Literacy and… The Reading
Teacher. [student pulls out printed handout sent in a previous email]
• P: Oh, ok. I’m going to share my desktop and go to the library. This is
another neat thing. [I pull up my desktop and start desktop sharing]
• S: Oh neat.
• P: I can share my internet.
• S: Cool.
• P: Yeah, I can go to the library. So you said you did E-Journals?
S: Yeah I did the e-Journals. I looked up three of them. I really liked that
you bolded three which you like best. I started with three of those first.
[student referring to her printed documents of the printed out handout
and is looking at those while talking to me.]
• P: Ok
Guiding Student Toward Research
Tools in Real-Time
• S: I found some articles I think I would like but I’m still having
trouble with them;
• P: Ok I’ll show you the databases. [I am on the university library
home page now] So what you did was you looked up some E-
journals. That’s actually a good way to find articles because you
know they’re going to be literacy-related and if you know that’s a
pretty good journal you know it’s peer reviewed and they publish
prominent scholars. But databases are a good way too. The library
databases you just access them from the main page and click on
databases. There’s two I’m going to show you right now. Have you
used any of these before? [I click on the next page and lead her
through the databases using desktop sharing]
S: No. They don’t look familiar.
Questions to Consider for Yourself
• What are your thoughts on the types of
mentoring shared today?
• What applications do you see in your own work?
• What would you need to change or adapt
towards your own teaching?
• What do you still want to know about digital
• How is digital mentoring “good teaching”? What
is still needed?
Talk from Dana Owens
• This segment will present key ideas of using
• Key ideas of managing group instruction and
engaging learners in the virtual classroom
will be presented.
• Give your students a webinar schedule as
early as possible.
– It’s good to include the schedule in the syllabus if
– Webinars may be needed more at the beginning
of the course to clarify information.
• Tech support information should be included
with the rest of the information.
– They need to know phone numbers
– They need to have access to the tech support
page listing several ways to initiate contact
– Support for webinars may be different from the
regular LMS system
• The focus of the first webinar may be the
• A focus on assignments is also helpful
• Q&A sessions
– This may be a number of minutes set aside for
Q&A or the whole focus of a webinar
• It helps to vary the nights of the week on
which the webinars are held.
– Some students may be enrolled in face-to-face
courses that meets the same night as the webinar
– Post the recording so others can go back and
Our Contact Info
• Dr. Peggy Semingson
• I am on Twitter: @PeggySemingson
• Subscribe to my YouTube channel!
• Dr. Dana Owens