Virtual classrooms (Adobe Connect)

In virtual classrooms, participants can collaborate and interact effectively thanks to the wide range of functions. Everything is possible, from small meetings to online seminars with up to 200 participants.


Preparation

Personal preparation

Clothes
Just like lectures and seminars, online events should also be understood as a professional setting. Therefore, you should wear a shirt or blouse and a jacket in online events.

Gestures and language
Since the event will be "live", they should pay attention to calm gestures and stressed language. This also has the advantage that recordings can be better understood. Especially for beginners it is helpful to talk through the slides in advance.

Create a rough storyboard
To help you better plan your online event, it is helpful to create a storyboard. In most cases, the interaction is lost in the combination of lecture and question round. The storyboard allows you to clarify thematic connections, plan interactions in a targeted way (e.g. comprehension questions, testing conceptual knowledge) and integrate productive group work.

Technical requirements

Sound
A good tone is decisive for a good online event. Therefore, check your microphone in advance and pay particular attention to the distance to your mouth (volume) and background noise. Since most built-in microphones are of rather inferior quality or do not have an optimal distance to the speaker, we recommend the use of a headset or a table microphone. If the sound is too quiet or not audible at all, check the system settings of your operating system to make sure that the correct microphone is selected by default. In a second step, we also recommend using the Adobe Connect Audio Setup Wizard.

Camera
In addition to a good sound, a good picture is also conducive to creating a positive overall impression. You should make sure that your camera is capable of recording in 720p (HD) and at least 30 frames per second. This ensures that the picture reaches the participants cleanly and fluently. In addition, you should pay particular attention to the quality of the image when using built-in cameras. If there are artifacts such as image noise, poor focus or bright or dark images, you can try to improve the image with better light. If the image does not improve significantly, we recommend purchasing separate webcams (e.g. from Microsoft or Logitech) that can deliver a better image.

Light
If you also use the video function, make sure that the lighting is good and that it lights up from the front if possible (possibly a combination of ceiling and lamp light). This will reduce your camera's image noise and help students see you better. Also make sure that there is no light source behind you. It is also a good idea to choose a low distraction background.

Desktop
Clean up your computer's desktop if you plan to share your screen. If students can see it, it leaves a professional impression.

Technology Check
Make a Connect technology check before the event. Check that the microphone, camera and desired functions are working correctly. A second person (e.g. the tutor) will be helpful. You can carry out a technical check at any time.

Bandwidth
If you have a bad bandwidth, you can reduce the bandwidth under "Meetings/Preferences/Bandwidth". This is also useful if participants with a poor connection are connected.


Planned interactions
In the view "List by status" you get a quick overview of the feedback of the participants.

 Interactions can be used to increase the activity of the participants, to make their conceptual knowledge visible or to productively deal with current questions of content.

Using Adobe Connect, different formats can be realized. For example, Pod Voting is suitable for anonymous voting. This is particularly useful if you want to query the understanding of a certain content issue and intervene if necessary. Another possibility is the target quiz. The point here is that the participants have to set a point in a certain continuum (e.g. where the break-even point is in a graph of production costs).

Here, too, the participants can interact anonymously and the moderator can comment on certain results. However, they also have the option to ask open questions to the participants, which they should work on e.g. in work rooms (pods) or in an Etherpad.

Obtain feedback
In the view "List by status" you get a quick overview of the feedback of the participants.

Fast, spontaneous and repeated feedback can also be requested using the Set Status function. Here you can find out if everyone is still "on the ball". Simply ask a yes/no or voice to/vote not to question and ask all participants to give their opinion using the status icon in the top bar.

Group work
Layout example for using the chat function to edit a task.

 Group work is suitable for productive work in online events. It is particularly useful for advanced courses where participants are already familiar with Connect. The optimal size for group work is 12 to 20 people per moderator. To make group work possible, you must click on the middle button in the Pod "Participants" and then on "Start group work". From a didactic point of view, group work is particularly beneficial when suggestions for solutions are to be worked out and compared in the groups.

As an alternative to group work, you can also use chat to structure discussions. This is especially useful when all participants are collecting advantages and disadvantages. For this you have to create two additional chat pods, which you name accordingly in "Advantages of..." and "Disadvantages of...". Also create a work description with the help of the Pod Notes. This makes the task clear to all participants, even without an oral explanation, and enables them to work in a focused way.

Reflection and pause activation

Also incorporate reflective elements into your online event to give participants time to organise the new knowledge. For example by a short coffee break, in which the participants should think about facts by transferring them to the private household (as a current setting).

Another possibility could be a so-called One Minute Paper, in which the participants should write down what they have understood within a fixed time window. In this way, they can reflect on what they have heard and, if necessary, recognise misconceptions on the part of the teachers.

Expert tip: Multiple Layouts

In order to integrate the didactic building blocks discussed in Adobe Connect in a meaningful way, it is recommended to use the layout function. You can use this function to create multiple layouts that you can easily switch between during the event.
Add a new layout by clicking on the plus symbol in the bottom right corner of the sidebar. You then have the choice of creating a new layout or duplicating an existing one.

When duplicating, make sure that the new layout uses existing pods and therefore existing content. However, this can be useful if you want to comment on results. Otherwise, you should create new pods and name them uniquely.

Expert tip: Private moderator area

To create and prepare new pods it is recommended to use the private moderator area, which you can find in the main navigation under Meeting. The pods are not visible for the participants in the black area. As soon as you have prepared the pods, you can easily drag them into the active area (highlighted in light grey) and use them.

Literature
  • Ebner, Martin und Schön, Sandra (Hrsg.) (2011): Lehrbuch für Lernen und Lehren mit Technologien. Berlin: Epubli.
  • Musekamp, Claudia und Staemmler, Daniel (2010): Webinare für Einsteiger: Online-Seminare lebendig gestalten. 1. Aufl. Hamburg: Infoport.
  • Salmon, Gilly (2004): E-tivities - der Schlüssel zu aktivem Online-Lernen. Zürich: Orell Füssli.