Interactive Synchronous Tips with Diane Gifford

Interactive Tips for Zoom with Diane Gifford

Diane GiffordDr. Diane Gifford is a clinical assistant professor in the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. On May 12, 2020, Diane participated in SMU’s Remote Learning: From Survival to Exceptional series with a session on Interactive Synchronous Tips. During the action-packed workshop, Diane provided attendees with tips and tricks for faculty to help keep students highly engaged and connected when presenting remotely with Zoom.

Interactive Synchronous Tips Agenda
Diane opened her session by launching a zoom poll and suggested faculty consider this tool as one method to keep student’s attention as it allows the opportunity for students to have less distance in an online class.

“What do we want our students to be doing in the synchronous environment? We are wanting them to be focusing on what we are talking about and that’s one of the problems when we are in this environment. There is a distance.” Professor Gifford continued, “We have to create a closer classroom community, and a poll is one way of doing that.”

She also explained that her goal is to turn her Zoom “meeting” into an interactive classroom. Her tips included having students keep their mute button on unless speaking and video available as much as possible. Each day her students have a daily plan with all of the resources they need for a successful class. Specifically, she utilizes the schedule to assist the class when they are assigned to break out rooms. This method keeps efficiency online, and students know right away what’s expected of them.  Faculty were provided first-hand experience to a breakout room and had the opportunity to brainstorm breakout room activities they could implement in their respective courses.

Attendees learned that breakout rooms could be recorded if the class period itself was not being recorded. (Note: Zoom cannot concurrently record the classroom and breakout rooms. Therefore, faculty should decide which aspect of the meeting they would like recorded.) Information on managing break out rooms may be found on Zoom’s support site.

Diane also provided recommendations on Zoom settings, ideas for screen sharing, methods to use the whiteboard effectively, and more.

If you were unable to attend this tips session, we highly recommend it. This session, along with all of the workshops offered, is available on the Remote Learning: From Survival to Exceptional information page. You can review a recording of the session below:

Special thanks to Diane and all the faculty and staff who participated in making this conference possible!


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Laurene Klassen

Laurene Klassen grew up in New England but came to Texas as fast as she could. SMU was one of the first spots she visited in Dallas. Laurene is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Senior Manager of SMU’s IT Training & Communications Team. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and outdoor activities with her family.