Virtual Communications

Key Takeaways for Online Synchronous Teaching


Online synchronous sessions are:


Presentations for synchronous sessions should be based around images, videos and activities. Capture discussions in real-time using the Whiteboard or allow students to see your thinking as you demonstrate concepts or processes using desktop share.


Synchronous sessions allow students to collaboratively apply knowledge as well as receive instruction. From using breakout rooms for group work to having students reflect on their own recorded presentation or discussion after class, learning and reflection in synchronous sessions

  1. occurs between students and and their peers, as well as between students and the instructor
  2. extends beyond sessions by means of recordings, saved whiteboards, and shared documents to allow students and teachers to reflect continuously on course content and delivery.


To run a smooth and successful session, think about being:


Sessions are not discrete events in your curriculum, but should be fully embedded in the flow of your course. When you think about planning a session, frame your objectives in terms of what students should know and be able to do at the beginning of the session, during the session, and after. Prepare and share any relevant documents, assignments, and discussion with your class before your session and make sure they’ve looked at the Zoom for Students page.

Planned out

A clear timeframe and sequence of activities will ensure smooth transitions and an engaging and fruitful synchronous session. Draft a timeline to give your session structure, paying special attention to moments of transition. Planning ahead will help you to avoid dead time so students can clearly see the connections between activities and the progression from one concept to the next.


When you plan activities for your synchronous session, consider not only what content you want to teach but also how best to help students understand and apply new knowledge. The teaching activities in this guide will give you a multitude of ideas, adaptable across disciplines. When choosing activities, you can consider not only student engagement and understanding within the session, but the variety of ways in which session activities can be saved and shared as documents, images, or recordings, to continue further learning. From the very first planning stages of your session, imagine the parts of your session that you want you and your students to use as sources of information and reflection in the future.

Important Considerations

Etiquette and Expectations

Preferably prior to your Zoom session, establish ‘ground rules’ for how students should interact within the platform.

  • Do you expect students to jump in via audio when they have a point? Or should they use the raise hand function or send a chat?
  • If some students are in different timezones do you still expect them to be present?
  • Do you expect them to come to the meeting having completed an assignment or with a presentation to share?

The rules for respectful and engaged discussion are the same as for any classroom, but it is always useful to clarify them for your students and for yourself.


For accessibility concerns, please refer to the Accessibility Statement published on Zoom’s website. The statement explains Zoom’s capacities for accommodating users with a range of abilities. For further queries, please contact The Disability Services Office at Boston College; they can arrange appropriate accommodations for students who have registered with them.