Synchronous Learning is similar to learning within a traditional classroom, but it happens online. Think Zoom. Although Zoom was fairly unheard of a year ago, most people were already very familiar with the process of live video communication through apps such as Facetime or Skype, and many business meetings were already occurring live and online through tools such as Webex and Join.Me. There are many platforms available for synchronous learning, but WashU faculty are encouraged to use Zoom for several reasons: we have a good contract with it that provides many high-level options, it is very secure with little chance of data theft, it is flexible for different modes of learning, it has active learning options such as an annotatable whiteboard and breakout rooms, it has the capacity to have closed-caption transcriptioning, and it is fully integrated with Canvas, where zoom recordings are started and then stored.

Whether synchronous learning is right for you may depend on the parameters of your course. Do you teach a lecture-based class that includes in-class activities?  Do you teach small, discussion-based classes? Do you have Assistants in Instruction who could serve as moderators as you conduct a large-class discussion? If you answered yes to any of these teaching situations, you may wish to consider holding real-time Zoom meetings.

At WashU, Zoom is fully integrated within Canvas. To learn more about this integration, read the Guide to Using Zoom in Canvas at WashU IT’s Tools for Teaching & Learning Continuity

Zoom can host up to 300 concurrent users in any meeting with unlimited time and recording. However, if you teach more than 300 concurrent users in a meeting, contact WashU IT Media Services to request a special license.

Recording Your Synchronous Zoom Lectures  As paradoxical as it sounds, all of your synchronous Zoom classes should be recorded so that they can also be asynchronously watched. This is very important for two reasons. Some of the students might not be able to attend the “live” Zoom class because of internet failures, hardware problems, international access issues, time zone challenges, or sudden illness. There needs to be a provision for these students.

There is another very important reason for recording your live Zoom classes, and that is that there is complete closed-captioning that is added to the audio portion of the Zoom when it is recorded. It helps students with hearing disabilities. Poor internet access can also negatively affect the sound quality of the Zoom, and this allows students to go back and read what they missed. If you are recording the Zoom class in a hyflex mode, in-person in a classroom, then you are also using a face mask. Many students, particularly international students for whom English is not their first language, normally rely upon lip reading as part of their English comprehension, which is not available within the current classroom. Information about recording Zoom lectures can be found here.

An Important Note on Zoom (HIPAA) in Canvas

Washington University in St. Louis has two versions of the Zoom-Canvas integration that appear in your Canvas course navigation menu: “Zoom” and “Zoom (HIPAA).” Meeting hosts will only be able to launch Zoom from one link or the other, although attendees can attend meetings from either link. The “Zoom (HIPAA)” link is primarily intended for School of Medicine employees, but some others may also be required to use this link to host a meeting. If you’re unsure which link to try, try the “Zoom” link first. If you get a “User not found” error, shift to the “Zoom (HIPAA)” link. An important difference is that Zoom sessions are recorded to the cloud and then downloaded to the instructor’s course page from anywhere. Zoom (HIPAA) sessions can only be recorded to the host computer.