Good Practices for Combining In-Classroom and Remote Students

The following tips were offered during a live classroom simulation that took place during Digital Learning Days, a three-day virtual training offered for faculty that focused on blended learning environments. Miss the session? Watch the recording.

Reduce noise distractions

  • Have remote students mute themselves upon entering the meeting. Questions and comments can be entered via chat, or the student can signal in chat that they would like to speak.
  • A student in the classroom can be designated to keep an eye out for chat questions or requests to speak and to draw your attention to them.

  • If you ask students who are in the classroom to interact with remote students (small group discussion or problem solving, etc.), the in-classroom students should use wired headphones with microphones to reduce feedback and interference in the classroom.

Consider alternatives to video streaming

  • Many interactions between in-classroom students and remote students can be done without video streaming. They can connect via text, GroupMe, chat, Twitter, audio only, shared documents, etc.

Share presentations/documents

  • Consider posting a copy of your PowerPoint or other presentation before the class for students to annotate.

  • Consider having an in-classroom student post their notes to Moodle for remote students to compare to in case something was missed (technical issues, etc.)

  • Consider opening up a shared document for collaborative note taking that can be contributed to and accessed in real time by the entire class.

Consider these tips to aid the remote learner

  • Project your voice and enunciate for the classroom microphone.

  • If remote students have difficulty understanding, suggest they try headphones, which tend to provide better audio than computer speakers.

  • Use a fresh, dark (preferably black) marker on whiteboards.

  • Whiteboard writing should probably be ~150% the size you are used to writing for clear viewing remotely.

  • Check in frequently with remote students, both for content understanding, and also to make sure their experience of your voice, writing, etc. is good.

Be aware of...

  • Students in the classroom talking will not be picked up by the classroom microphone. The instructor should repeat questions or comments for remote students (also not a bad technique pedagogically to make sure the question you are answering is the same as the student was really asking).
  • If you are having students in the classroom also joining remotely:
    • Make sure they are muted and have their device volume down to avoid feedback

Internet Connectivity

Be aware that wireless network performance could suffer if the students inside the physical classroom all connect to the video conferencing platform (Zoom, or Teams) and try to stream the video at the same time.

  • Faculty who are streaming video using the classroom’s instructor’s station and installed camera are NOT impacted by wireless network performance, as the camera and instructor’s station is hard-wired into the network.
  • One of the challenges of students connecting wirelessly in a physical classroom is that the wireless access points can only handle so many users at a time, and video takes up more bandwidth (compared to just surfing the web). Wireless network performance problems are more likely to occur, if students in adjacent classrooms are all also trying to connect to a video conferencing platform. The students may experience video that is choppy, freezes, or does not work at all. In addition, having the students inside the physical classroom join the same video conference introduces technical complexities related to audio feedback. (Students will need to mute their mics, turn down their volume to 0 and/or have earbuds.)
  • Students who join a class remotely (through Zoom, or Teams) will be scattered across campus and non-campus venues, all using different wireless access points. Students may learn that some locations are better than others when joining class remotely. A strong wireless connection is important.
  • If a faculty member wants to combine remote and in-class students in a Zoom breakout, for example, in-class students could join in the conferencing for just that short activity, as opposed to joining for the entire class period. This may reduce the likelihood of nearby classes connecting at the same time. And, of course, have a backup plan in mind.
  • When a class is fully online, with the faculty member and the students all joining remotely, everyone is using different internet connections, different wireless access points, and different internet providers. Any lags or choppiness of video are most likely caused by someone’s personal internet connection.
  • Elon’s network is robust and will be able to support students who are taking fully online courses or joining courses remotely. As a part of our summer work, the network was proactively stress tested. We will continue to monitor network performance. Should you or your students run into any problems, please have them report the issue to the Technology Service Desk at (336) 278-5200, noting the location, date, and time of the issue.

Big takeaways

  • Be patient (with yourself, your students, and the technology)
  • Be resilient (things will be different, but model the persistence we look for students to have)
  • Share ideas and experiences with colleagues
  • Practice what you can
  • Be patient and resilient again


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Article ID: 113817
Thu 8/13/20 3:55 PM
Wed 5/1/24 5:01 PM
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