What is it?
Real-time communication that is facilitated between two or more people using audio and video equipment. The level of sophistication can vary, from popular apps that are compatible with a range of devices (e.g., Microsoft’s Skype or Google’s Hangouts) to platforms that require specific hardware and software (like DePaul’s Polycom system).
Virtual Office Hours
Holding virtual office hours can give your students more opportunities to receive one-on-one guidance from you, since meetings do not need to be held on campus. You can designate a certain time you’ll be available online, or you can offer to connect by appointment. In any case, be sure to list your schedule and instructions for connecting in your syllabus.
Bring the world to your students by connecting with experts in the field, whether they are across town or across the globe. Just like you would invite a guest speaker into your physical classroom, make sure you communicate with your guest what your objectives are and how long you expect him or her to speak. Consider recording the discussion so students can access it later.
Virtual Field Trips
Academic field trips can spark students’ interest in course content and enhance their understanding, but visiting a remote location together is not always feasible. With the increasing availability of wireless high speed internet, even remote areas can now be explored virtually in real time. There are a number of ways this could be done. You might ask a colleague who lives or works near the site of interest to give a tour using her smartphone, or contact the staff at a location of interest and see if a virtual tour might be arranged. You could also ask your students to give a tour after doing some research on a related topic or share their own knowledge in an area of their expertise.
Do you know a colleague in your field who is doing interesting work but just so happens to teach at another university? Or is there an expert in a particular teaching method that your department is keen on learning more about? Invite them to speak during your next departmental meeting using one of the popular tools that are outlined below.
Connecting Students with Students
Videoconferencing can help students work on projects together outside the classroom, especially when used in concert with a collaborative tool like Office 365 or Google Docs. Students can discuss their progress, share their work and decide on next steps, all without having to be in the same place together. Students can even collaborate with their peers at other institutions--including international ones. DePaul’s Global Learning Experience is a good example of how faculty can structure these types of cultural exchanges.
Note: The following applications are not supported by DePaul University. If you encounter a problem, please contact the vendor for technical support. This information is accurate as of June 2016.
- Google Hangouts
- Zoom Meeting
- Free audio and video calling with other Skype users
- Group calls up to 25 people is supported
- Broad availability across a range of devices
- Scheduling meetings in advance requires paid subscription (Skype for Business)
- Free audio and video calling, including guests without Google accounts
- Highly integrated with other Google apps like Google Docs
- Guests can be invited to join by phone
- Scheduling meetings in advance requires Google Calendar
- Max of 10 participants
- Free audio and video calling, including guests without Zoom accounts
- Easy to schedule meetings in advance and send invites through Zoom App, web portal, or using plugin for Chrome, Outlook or Firefox
- Guests can call-in via phone
- Group calls up to 25 people is supported
- Free accounts limited to 40 minutes each session
Polycom Video Conferencing
Polycom is a video conferencing system that relies on specialized hardware and software and is available in a number of locations on both the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses. The Richardson Library Program Room, which has a Polycom system, can be reserved online
. You can also view a list of Polycom-equipped rooms and their owners
provided by Information Services. Contact the owner(s) for more information about a particular room.
A collaborative space in the Loop (DePaul Center, Concourse Room 101) that is equipped with 3 large screens, a computer, two webcams, and more. This room can be used to host videoconferencing sessions through Skype or a similar VOIP application. This is a shared space that is designed to promote collaboration among faculty. If you would like to reserve the space for a collaborative event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kessler, Kelly. “Finding the Face-to-Face When You Have No Face: Fostering Student-Student and Student-Professor Engagement in the Online Media Classroom.” Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier. 3(1). Winter 2015.
Morgan, Ashanti. “What to Expect When Syncing: Best Practices Using Video Conferencing Tools.” IDDBlog.com. 11 April 2016.
-- “Internationalize your Online Course: Collaborative Sessions via Different Continents.” IDDBlog.com. 24 September 2012.
Stanford, Daniel. “The Best Video Conference Tool for People Who Hate Video Conference Tools.” IDDBlog.com. 21 October 2015.