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First Online Workshop

This past month, Mary and I taught our first fully online synchronous workshop through Amigos Library Services.  Although, I have developed and taught online courses in asynchronous formats, both Mary and I learned a lot about the dynamics of teaching synchronously.

Transforming our in-person workshop to the online format took a considerable amount of time because we wanted to avoid the common pitfall of believing that what works in the classroom will work online. So, much of our time was spent in creative designing and brainstorming.  Our face-to-face workshops are fun, lively, and collaborative events where participants are constantly talking and bouncing ideas off each other. To replicate this online, when we  designed the online version of the workshop we stuck to the following:

  • Short lectures:  We didn’t want to bore participants with long lectures, so we kept them short and sweet (we hope).
  • Visuals:  Even short lectures can be boring, so we added life to our PowerPoint slides with engaging and thought-provoking images of the marketing campaigns to which we referred.
  • Student interactions: We peppered our hourly workshops with multiple opportunities for students to chime in and show examples of their own work.

The result?  A great experience for instructors and participants alike.  Participants came up with the beginnings of some great campaigns.  I loved Kelly’s idea of promoting her Southfield Public Library’s homework help service by offering parents the reward of more quality supper time with the family.  Lanee’s idea of “Professor Approved” databases for University of Arkansas students also stands out as a favorite.  Frances from the University of Washington came up with some great ideas of images for her Veterinary Medicine students. And finally, Sarah from Yuma Public Library came up with some great ideas for getting parents to use the summer reading online sign-up service.

Mary and I learned a whole lot about delivering classes synchronously. I am not sure I will ever get accustomed to lecturing online, telling a joke, and then just silence; it can make one quite self-conscious.