Friday, October 1, 2010

Online Office Hours

What do you do when you have to meet with someone, but getting there isn't convenient, and not everyone has a Video Conferencing system? You reach for Adobe Connect or some other similar Web Conferencing system. Why not use Adobe Connect for office hours?

About a year ago, the IU Kelley School of Business started looking at options to continue teaching in case of an extended closure of a campus. Adobe Connect was one proposed solution, as IU has a site license for this product.

To schedule regular office hours, I conducted a quick poll via Doodle to see what times are convenient for my students, and started my "Online Office Hours" via Connect. I created a Connect Meeting Room and shared the URL with the students. At the designated times, I stay in the virtual meeting room and students can come and go as they wish. So far, the students have joined mainly from a computer lab somewhere on campus. They didn't have a microphone/camera on the computer, so they ask questions via chat. The capability however exists to have a multi-user audio/video interaction.

I see several advantages to having Online Office Hours:
  • Students don't need to drive to campus or walk across campus to ask me questions.
  • Adobe Connect allows me to share my screen to help answer the question.
  • The notes window allows me to save discussion notes for other students.
Of course, the brick-and-mortar office hours haven't gone away, for questions and issues that are more personal in nature and require a one-on-one meeting. Those issues being rare, the online solution is the new norm.

My Online Office Hours project is still in its infancy, so I don't have any solid statistics to report, however, look for a future post with such information.