How do you hold office hours for an online course? Sam Smiley uses Blackboard IM (BB IM). BB IM combines the ability to easily communicate via text, audio and video as in Skype with some web conferencing features such as whiteboards and screen sharing that allow faculty and students to collaborate online as they might in person.
In January 2012, Sam introduced BB IM to her Internship Seminar students. She then posted her Office Hours schedule in her myLesley course. Each Monday night, Sam would log into BB IM and field questions from students. Some were simple questions that could be handled with a quick text message and the student was on his or her way. Audio or video calls worked great for questions that required a bit more explanation or finesse that might not come across in text. The whiteboard tool allowed her Creative Arts and Learning students to share and annotate images while the desktop and website sharing tools allowed Sam to demonstrate processes or answer questions as she might in the face-to-face classroom using the projector or physical whiteboard.
It took a little time for Sam to build interest with her students, but by the end of the course her students were beginning to regularly check in. It worked so well that she is using BB IM with her current courses. As her students work on group projects, they can also use BB IM to collaborate on the fly without Sam needing to set up a space for them to do so.
Learn more about BB IM Office Hours.