Course Activities - Real-time Activities

Overview | Instructional Use | Tips | Shortcomings | Potential Technology | Resources

Real-time activities are suitable for those online courses in which most students are in the same time zone or can commit to meet at specific dates and times. Ideally, students should have a webcam and a microphone to be able to interact with others using a videoconferencing application.

All IU online courses can make use of Adobe Connect to establish synchronous videoconferences. As most current videoconferencing programs, Adobe Connect allows:

  • Having students working in teams using breakout rooms.
  • Using a shared digital whiteboard in which students can sketch ideas and concept maps.
  • Create an online poll which can display the results instantly.
  • Share documents on the fly or a remote computer’s display.



Virtual Meeting

Real-time activities have the potential to promote social interaction.  Text-based communication tends to be impersonal and lacks the sense of emotional closeness provided by talking verbally to a fellow student while being able to see her/him.

Videoconference session might facilitate and smooth the transition to the online environment for those students who have only taken face-to-face courses.

The feedback provided in the real-time activities is instantaneous. In this way, the instructor can use this type of activities to assess the overall understanding of all of the students using a poll.


  • Prepare in advance all of the different activities you will have your students to do: breakout rooms, whiteboard, polls, etc.

  • When working with big groups simultaneously, implement a communication protocol to prevent having all students talking at the same time; for instance, you could disable their microphones and enable one at a time as they’re requesting it.

  • For every ten to fifteen minutes of lecture, provide opportunities for students to interact with you and with other students as well.

  • Record the sessions for those students who are not able to attend it in real time.

  • Not all of the students might be able to attend videoconference sessions due to difference in time zones or conflicts with personal and professional schedules.

  • Videoconferences rely heavily on technology, including equipment, Internet bandwidth, and computer applications. If the equipment is not configured properly, some students might not be able to listen or speak. Providing in advance a job aid about how to configure their equipment and how to troubleshoot common problems might mitigate technology related problems.

  • It might be difficult for students to assimilate, understand, and remember all the content presented on a long videoconference lecture. To facilitate the learning process, it is convenient for students to be already aware of the topic you'll be discussing and give them the opportunity to ask questions during the session.

  • Even though there are several videoconferencing applications, the most common ones that IU instructors can use for free are Skype and Adobe Connect.

  • Skype is one of the most popular communication programs and most students would already have an account. It’s ideal for one-to-one meetings or for group audio meetings in which is not necessary to share the screen of the presenter.

  • Adobe Connect is a more robust videoconferencing solution. All IU instructors can request an Adobe Connect videoconference room for free.

  • Adobe Connect provides several features such as: (a) the ability to form groups and have students working in small teams, assigning a whiteboard to each team,  (b) the ability to record the videoconference session, (c) the ability to share any program from a remote computer, (d) the ability to share and display files such as videos, PowerPoint presentations, PDF documents, etc.