Some advice on holding online office hours

Rachel Watson is discussing virtual office hours. In the presentation description,

In both Principles of Biochemistry – a fully online, upper division course – and General Microbiology – a sophomore-level, face-to-face course – I hold office hours online. These office hours are held using the online collaborationb software, Blackboard Collaborate as well as the virtual world Second Life. Power dynamics seem to fade in these spaces and students seem more willing to drive the interaction.

Rachel can teach from anywhere she has a connection, and students can access her content from wherever they have a connection.

Instructor perspectives for online office hours:

  • Power dynamics (student-professor hierarchy) seems to fade.  Everyone seems to be on an equal footing.
  • In these spaces, students seem more willing to drive the interaction.
  • Silence is okay. Silence in a face-to-face setting can become very uncomfortable.

Second Life is a virtual world where all participants are on equal footing.

Rachel is showing here Elluminate (Blackboard Collaborate) session. Elluminate lets her see who is present. Students are both interacting with the instructor and fellow students. This chat can be captured for future analysis. The whiteboard allows the instructor to show and clarify concepts.

With Second Life, you can actually see the students even though it is in a virtual world. Rachel showed off Genome Island in SL. You can not only interact with other people, you can also interact with the physical spaces. Rachel also listed a number of different islands focusing on different disciplines.

Rachel reports that students like meeting in SL because they feel they are actually interacting with a real person.

Rachel reports that 4.8 students attend each office hour session. More females attend than males. Rachel reports on a study that females value more out of class sessions than males. In her class, there is a positive correlation between attending office hours and scores.

Each set of office hours in Elluminate is recorded. Students actually watch the recorded sessions even though they did not attend in person. She has office hours 5 days a week.

It is not the technology, it is about something to get jazzed about.

Question: How do you learn about SL? and how do you fine the educational sites in SL?

Learning about SL is about going to SL and learning about it. There are spaces where you can create learning spaces. Rachel so far has been using SL for virtual field trips.

Great session!