Use Web Conferencing Tools for Office Hours

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One of the primary concerns reported by online students is feelings of isolation (Abrami & Bures, 1996), and according to Wang et al. (2009), one of the most effective predictors for student satisfaction is their perceived ability to respect students and show genuine interest in their learning. One way to bridge the distance is through live, synchronous office hours.

What is web conferencing?

Web conferencing tools allow you to share your desktop, documents, or files in a live, synchronous meeting while communicating via text, audio, and/or video. Examples of web conferencing tools are ZoomAdobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, GoToMeeting, and Big Blue Button. These tools can be used for any online, collaborative meeting with an individual student or a group of students. Most tools also provide the ability to record your meeting so that it can be viewed asynchronously.

When do I use it?

This tool is well-suited for online office hours. It can be used in conjunction with other strategies like targeted office hours or the scheduler. It is most useful when you need to meet with students live but they are unable to come to campus and a phone call just isn’t sufficient.

Other uses for this tool include:

  • Group Collaboration
  • Software Demonstration
  • Guest Speakers
  • Student Presentations

How do I use it?

Schedule and communicate your online office hours in advance. Be sure to test out your hardware and familiarize yourself with the software prior to your first live meeting with students. Consider inviting a friend or colleague to report back on the quality of their experience in your test session. This strategy can be used in isolation or in sequence with the following strategies to more effectively engage with your students outside of class:

  1. Create a Personalized Student Intervention
  2. Reach More Students with Targeted Office Hours
  3. Managing Student Interaction with Sign Up Sheets
  4. Use Web Conferencing Tools for Office Hours

Link to example artifact(s)

  • Instructor: Dr. Carolyn Massiah, University of Central Florida
  • Course Title: MAR3023 Marketing

Dr. Massiah utilizes this strategy to offer online office hours. She has found that even when students do not take advantage of the opportunity to meet with her live online, they often appreciate having the option, especially those students who are unable to come to campus.

Presentation by Dr. Massiah about online engagement strategies for large classes

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Abrami, P. C., & Bures, E. M. (1996). Computer-supported collaborative learning and distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 10(1), 37–42.

Wang, M. C., Dziuban, C. D., Cook, I. J., & Moskal, P. D. (2009). [Dr. Fox Rocks: Using Data-mining Techniques to Examine Student Ratings of Instruction]. In M. C. Shelley II, L. D. Yore, & B. Hand (Eds.), Quality research in literacy and science education: International perspectives and gold standards. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Springer, pp383-398.


Howard, W., & Raible, J. (2015). Use web conferencing tools for office hours. In B. Chen & K. Thompson (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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