Beginning in the Summer 2020, the College will no longer have Adobe Connect. As the College transitions away from using Adobe Connect for online Office Hours, I set out to find an alternative for virtual office hours that offered as similar a work flow as possible to Adobe Connect. I have hosted virtual hours in Adobe Connect for many years and found it easy to use, so I wanted to explore something similar that would be easy for my students and myself.
One option available to faculty is the Virtual Classroom, which is embedded in Falcon Online for Office Hours. Virtual Classroom permits faculty to host one hour sessions with students. An advantage is that the students already have access to this technology through the Falcon Online LMS and is another way to engage students through this medium. There are two limitations of Virtual Classroom that make it dissimilar to the Adobe Connect virtual hours option. One limitation is that faculty cannot reuse the same link or session more than one time. This means you would have to create a new session for each hour of office hours and create a session for each week you are hosting them. Additionally, Virtual Classroom limits the time per session to 90 minutes. As most faculty who opt to host virtual hours are likely to host a minimum of two (2) virtual hours, that means you would need a Virtual Classroom meeting session for each of those individual hours. This option may work for some faculty, however, I was hoping the other alternative worked more similar to Adobe.
The second option would be using Skype for Business, included in Office 365. This is a favorable option for virtual hours because of the student availability of technology, ability to reuse the meeting room, and unlimited meeting room time, and recording options.
To create a Skype virtual office hours session link, you have to generate the link by creating a New Skype Meeting through the Outlook client found on your work computer. You pick a date and time, then create a meeting. Once it is created, you can go into that date on your calendar and hover over the meeting link and you will get the option to copy and paste the link. Once you have your link, you can copy and paste the link into your course announcements, syllabus, or wherever you post your virtual hours to your students. You can reuse this same link over and over, even if the original date of the session was prior to the date you want the students to log into the room.
When a student clicks on the link, they will be asked to open the web app version of the Skype or to log into Office365. Either one of these options has worked in my experience for students trying to enter the Skype virtual hours session. Once in the session, the host has the ability to use webcam, microphone, and assign presenters and even record.
Aaron Sunday in the Division of Online Studies created a very thorough and user-friendly document on how you can set up Skype for Business for your own virtual office hours. If you have questions about any of these tools, please reach out to the Faculty Innovation Center, they are always happy to help!
Bachelor of Applied Science Program in Supervision and Management
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