Virtual Office Hours
Traditionally, office hours offer a predetermined time and place where students can visit with faculty for any of a number of different reasons. But sometimes, scheduling conflicts might arise, life might get in the way and students just can’t make it to your office when you’re available.
If you’re looking for an alternative, you can try moving some (but probably not all) of these meetings online and offer your students virtual office hours.
Here are some of the benefits of doing so:
- Meetings don’t have to take place on campus (no issues with parking, traffic, etc.)
- Shy or more introverted students might appreciate the opportunity to ask questions electronically rather than face-to-face.
- Students with demanding work or family schedules (especially non-traditional students) may need the flexibility that this offers.
- Office hours can take place at times that are more convenient for your students, such as in the evening.
- You can archive (or even record) discussions and share answers to common questions with other students.
- You can cut down on having to reply to multiple questions through email and students are assured a timely response.
- Students can share in the discussion rather than waiting outside your office door.
Getting Started is Easy
Step 1: Choose one of the options below (Canvas, Adobe Connect). If you need help getting set up, contact me and we can set up a time to get everything up and running.
Step 2: Set days and times when you will be available online, e.g., Wednesday from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. (evenings tend to be popular but are by no means required).
Step 3: let students know the times and instructions for how to connect with you online. This is best done both in class and in writing in your syllabus.
Adobe Connect for Virtual Office Hours
If you still want to SEE your students and allow them to see you, then Adobe Connect is the way to go. Adobe Connect is a virtual meeting room that allows you to connect with any number of participants and share screens, audio, video, files, and more. It’s freely available to all UT faculty and staff. But, it can take some getting used to.
And if you’d like to set up a 1-on-1 consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be happy to help you get set up.
If you want to connect with your students using Adobe Connect, here are some simple instructions that you can modify to your liking and make available to your students.
Note: at a minimum, the highlighted text in the above instructions should be edited to match your course.
Canvas for Virtual Office Hours
Since students are already using Canvas to access your course materials, this is a great way to interact with them outside the classroom as well.
The following Canvas tools are available to help facilitate virtual office hours and other online communication with students and instructions for getting started with each one are available on the Canvas Community website.
- Conferences allow you to upload files, access a digital whiteboard and access the video and audio features in Canvas.
- Scheduler is part of the Calendar in Canvas. It allows faculty to create blocks of time that students can sign up for, which can help to better manage face-to-face or online hours.
- Chat provides a way to conduct real time conversations and save it too. This feature can be used for online discussions that will allow students to go back and review material after the conversation has ended.
- Discussions is an easy to use tool that provide FAQ’s for a course, especially useful in large courses, and can help to cut down on repeat questions and answers that frequently occur via email.
If you have any questions about virtual office hours in Canvas, Adobe Connect or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.