Skip to Main Content

Making the Most of Technology in Your Course

Created to assist faculty in preparing for potential or definite course transitions to online during the Fall 2020 term (due to the COVID-19 epidemic).

Synchronous Delivery

The Instructional Design and Technology Team would recommend that you consider moving away from online synchronous lectures.  Trying to keep your students engaged in the classroom is one thing, but trying to do so when there is a screen separating you is a whole other matter.  We would recommend that you consider flipping your classroom.  If you would like to try something new, and engage your students in a different way using the online platform, check out the next section on “asynchronous” lecture creation.

However, maybe you are set on hosting synchronous online lectures with your class.  While there are many different software platforms that you can pick from, the Seminary approved and supported solution is Zoom.  As far as logging into Zoom, and scheduling your synchronous class sessions, the Instructional Design and Technology Team has created a “Zoom Basics” guide to help you get started here.

However, besides the technical aspects of getting your class into a Zoom meeting together, there are some things that you will want to consider as you are preparing for your online synchronous lecture:

  1. Work with the class to find the best time for synchronous sessions

In order to get the most participation from your class as possible in synchronous lecture sessions, you will want to work with the class to find ideal times for these.  In cases where you have had to move a face-to-face course to an online format, you might assume that the normal class meeting times will work best, but your students’ situations have likely drastically changed now that they are at home so it is always a good idea to check with the class as a whole.

  1. Make sure to plan to include time for breaks

Depending on the length of the lecture, you may want to schedule time for the class to take a short break.  If your session is going to be long enough that you would have given the class a break in a face-to-face session, that can be a good indicator that a break is needed.  In addition, it can be harder to retain the attention of your students when a screen is separating you, and they may be dealing with additional distractions on their end.  So, including more frequent breaks could keep everyone fresher and their attention more focused.

  1. Consider using breakout rooms for in-class discussions

One way to create some more engagement with your students during a synchronous lecture session would be to create some time for class discussions using Zoom breakout rooms.  You can set up your Zoom breakout groups either in advance using the Zoom browser interface or during the live Zoom session.

How to pre-assign Breakout Rooms in advance

  1. Sign into your Asbury Seminary Zoom account at

  2. Once signed in, you will want to click on the “Meetings” link in the left navigation menu.

  3. At this point you will see a list of your upcoming meetings.

    1. You can either select an already existing meeting and edit it, or

    2. Schedule a new meeting

  4. Whether you are editing a pre-existing meeting or scheduling a new one, at the bottom of the meeting settings, you will see a section of “Meeting Options” one of which is “Breakout Room pre-assign”.  Select this checkbox.

  5. This will reveal two new buttons, “+ Create Rooms” and “Import from CSV”.  For our purposes we will select the “+ Create Room” button.

  6. This will bring up a new pop-up window where you can create your rooms and assign participants to those rooms.  Make sure to click “Save” at the bottom right of the pop-up window once you are done.

  7. At this point, jump to point number 3 in the “How to assign and manage Breakout Rooms during the Zoom meeting” section in order to learn about managing the rooms in the meeting.

How to assign and manage Breakout Rooms during the Zoom meeting

  1. Start your Zoom meeting.  In the bottom of the Zoom window, you will see that one of the buttons is labeled “Breakout Rooms”.  Click it. 

  2. You will get a pop-up window asking how many rooms you want to assign your participants to and whether you want Zoom to do it automatically or you want to do it manually.  You will be able to create and edit rooms on the next screen, so you only need to worry about this screen if you want Zoom to do all of the work for you automatically.  Make your selections and then click “Create Breakout Rooms”. 

  3. This will take you to the Breakout Rooms window.  You can do a number of things from this window: 

    1. You can Add Rooms

    2. You can Assign users to rooms

    3. You can Recreate the Rooms if you want to start from scratch.  You can also select this if you are using pre-assigned rooms and there will be an option to recover the pre-assigned rooms if you made a change and you want to revert back to the rooms you had set up ahead of time. 

    4. You can manage a number of settings for your Breakout Rooms by clicking the “Options” button: 

      1. It is recommended to have participants moved to their breakout rooms automatically.

      2. Whether or not you want to allow participants to return to the main session at any time is up to you.  This could be useful for students to come to the main session to ask you questions.  You may want them to stay in their groups though.

      3. You can manually close breakout rooms anytime after you open them, or you can decide to have them automatically close after a set period of time of your choosing.  If you choose the automatic option, you can turn on a notification when they are about to close which will allow you to extend the time.

      4. You can also set a Countdown to let students know how long they have left in their breakout rooms.

    5. When you are ready, click “Open All Rooms” to send people to their Breakout Rooms!  This button will change to “Close All Rooms” once you have opened the rooms, and you would click it again to bring everyone back to the main meeting.