Interactive seminars (also known as work groups) are an important part of academic education. Although some elements of the traditional seminar should be reconsidered, it is absolutely possible to create the academic setting of the seminar in an online learning experience.
- When you want to reach a small group of students.
- When you want your students to participate in small group breakout sessions during your seminar.
- When you want to help students gain a better understanding of the course’s content by facilitating more complex cognitive processes such as understanding, applying, analysing, and evaluating.
- When you want to create a moment where students can contribute to the program and the learning experience of their peers.
- When you want to combine different formats in one session, e.g. a simulation, debate, and peer feedback.
- Consider the group size: This method works with groups of up to 20 students. If the group is larger, it’s difficult to ensure the active participation and contributions of all participants. If you plan to use moderators and break-out sessions, it is possible to serve about 10 extra students, but this is not recommended.
- Interactivity is key: In a seminar, interactive working methods are essential. If these are not used sufficiently, it will turn into just another online lecture for a small group.
Use a moderator: You can use a moderator to guide the discussions in the chat and support participating students whenever they have questions or (technical) issues. We advise you to check out the page Adding a moderator.
- Recording the seminar: Recording and playback of a seminar is possible. Please consider these privacy guidelines for recording.
- Combine formats: As in many cases, it will be difficult to achieve all set goals or devised work forms within one format. Do not hesitate to combine different formats: as long as this is clearly communicated, this should not lead to confusion.
- Don’t overestimate tech skills: Although students are used to working on computers and might use different educational platforms, don’t assume that they will understand everything immediately. Take some time to explain the used tools and their functionalities or provide tutorials.
- Go easy on the tooling: There are many tools and applications available to support online seminars. It’s recommended to work with the minimum amount of tools needed and only elaborate when you feel comfortable enough.
- Seminar with breakout sessions: The plenary part of the seminar should be used for activities that are relevant for the whole group, like announcements, instructions, and sharing conclusions. Students can work in smaller groups - the so-called breakout rooms - to work on assignments together or have small group discussions.
- Discussion: Academic discussions can be conducted synchronously (live), but also asynchronously (in text). For example, a forum or a chat can be used for this. Just remember that the discussion should be moderated, just like it would be in real life. We advise you to visit the page Discussions & debates for more tips.
- Simulating conversations: Practising professional communication skills is essential in many programs, e.g. when stating a diagnosis, giving consultancy advice, or defending a case. These simulations can be done in small-groups online settings, where students are assigned to a specific role they need to prepare and execute. For more information on this topic, have a look at the page Simulations & serious games.
- Collaborative product: By having students work on a joint end-product that other students can learn from, knowledge and skills can be applied. Think for example of a podcast, advice report, or knowledge clip. The end-products can be shared during a seminar, so others can learn from it too. As a teacher, you guide and supervise the process when needed. You can visit the page Collaborative learning for more information.