Online synchronous virtual classroom: How to decrease student anxiety and increase engagement
AffiliationUniversity of Southern indiana
TitleOnline synchronous virtual classroom: How to decrease student anxiety and increase engagement
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An online synchronous virtual classroom can create anxiety and apprehension in students. Through strategic approaches, students can increase connection and engagement and decrease their anxiety. SOCW402: Social Work Practice I and SOCW412: Social Work Practice II are seminar courses senior BSW students take concurrently while completing their required internship. Online synchronous sections of these courses have allowed students the opportunity to complete their internship in geographic areas outside of the surrounding campus communities. It has broadened their internship opportunities, yet created some anxiety in taking an online synchronous seminar course. Research into effective online instruction reveals the importance of having a strong presence of the instructor as well as creating online active learning opportunities that are collaborative in nature. Research also indicates quality online instruction can be just as effective as face to face instruction in the classroom (Dixson, 2010). Through several years of teaching this synchronous format and evaluating student feedback, key areas have emerged that help to decrease anxiety in students and increase connection and student engagement. The first thing is to recognize there are actually more similarities than differences between learning in a traditional classroom and learning in a synchronous online format. Students are required to be on time, limit distractions, come prepared with textbook (and reliable technology), prepared for class discussion/content, and be actively engaged. These expectations can be accomplished regardless of face-to-face classroom or whether face-to-face through the use of a video-conferencing application. Choosing the correct web based video-conferencing application is important. When students view the application as easy to access and use, the interactions between student and instructor and student to student becomes second nature. Other keys to a successful synchronous online course include: availability of the instructor, creating a detailed syllabus and a well-designed Blackboard course, providing clear expectations both in writing and verbally at the beginning of the semester and emphasized throughout the course, as well as the thoughtful designing of discussions and activities to encourage group-centered interactions. The outcomes of being diligent in these practices has resulted in students indicating the courses set high standards of practice and required active participation; and students indicating they felt connected to the instructor and fellow students. Students have overwhelming indicated the web based synchronous virtual classroom was a positive experience for them in completing their internship and BSW degree.
Dixson, M. D. (2010, June). Creating effective student engagement in online courses: What do students find engaging? Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,10(2), 1-13. Retrieved November 19, 2017.