One of the challenges of teaching online is fostering a sense of classroom community from a distance. In a face-to-face classroom environment, students share the same space and participate in the same conversations at the same time. This synchronous activity can help promote an interconnectedness amongst classmates that can be beneficial in a variety of educational ways (small group projects, class discussions, etc). But how do we incorporate similar activity online? A good bit of online instruction occurs through asynchronous activities. In online classes, students post to discussion boards or write reflections in a blog, but these activities are done individually on each student’s own time. Unless a “live classroom” tool like Wimba or Elluminate is used, students rarely get to interact online the same way that they would in a face-to-face classroom.
But new synchronous options are emerging. Take Synchtube, for example. With Synchtube, an instructor can set up a room where 25 participants can watch videos and chat with one another simultaneously. It’s really easy to set up and can help to foster those real-time discussions and reactions that would occur when a powerful video is watched in a face-to-face class. The challenge is that Synchtube only works with Youtube videos, which can limit your selections. Pulling from YouTube EDU might help you find more educational videos and help you avoid those clones of Charlie Bit My Finger. Be sure to check out the short tutorial on using Synchtube below.