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Online video chat with students, Take 2

 This semester, I’m trying to do online video chats with my students to discuss literature — and to encourage them to read over the weekend.

Last Sunday, over on my class website, iseroma.com/live, we used Tinychat, which didn’t work very well. Most of our time was spent getting students online and able to hear each other in real time. Tinychat wasn’t a viable solution.

Tonight, we switched things up and tried ooVoo, which worked much better. Nevertheless, several students reported trouble downloading the ooVoo plugin. Others could barely hear their peers; others had trouble with their microphone.

Online video chat just isn’t easy. It relies on people’s tech knowledge and equipment. And talking to students in a group online has different rules and expectations than in a classroom. We’re just beginning to figure out those norms.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of frustration. My primary outcome — to get students to read over the weekend — is definitely being met. But I don’t know whether this is worth my students and my time on Sunday nights.

For next steps, I’m thinking of making things a little simpler. I’ll stay online for one hour, the first half for students who’d like to video chat and the second half for students who prefer text only. It’ll be interesting to see which students choose which platform and how the discussions are different.

Do you have any ideas for making online video chat work better? 

Please share your brilliant insights!