Digital Tools for Online Seminars

The recent development around the COVID-19 pandemic and all related effects are testing our resilience on the personal as well as on an organizational level. Online learning was gaining traction even before the Covid-19 turned our lives upside down. In this article we would like to introduce you to a few tools for digital teaching that can support you in the design of your lectures, seminars and exercises!

Camera on, sound off

COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown, systemically relevant – these are all words of 2020. What’s still missing from the list: video chat. Video tools for synchronous online learning were the hot topic at the beginning of the pandemic, and it quickly became apparent what tools performed best. MS Teams and Zoom in particular were able to adapt quick to the new reality. Zoom offers several features, that make interactive online teaching possible:

  • There are drawing, writing and highlighting tools that allow each participant to leave comments on the split screen
  • Polls facilitate voting
  • The ‘raise hand icon’ and other ‘reactions’ facilitate communication, even with image and sound turned off

However, Zoom is not a panacea. The tool Wonder promises smoother and more creative communication. People can meet more freely and spontaneously online, moving from one meeting room to the next without relying on the scheduling of a specific host.

Other video chat tools would be, to name a few, AdobeConnect, Jitsi, alfaview or WebEx. In addition, many learning management systems offer their own programs for virtual rooms. The pioneer is Moodle with Big Blue Button, which can serve as a virtual seminar room.

List with digital tools

For smooth teamwork

Commincation is key. In distance learning, however, this is sometimes problematic; after all, the working group or the colleague is not sitting at the next table. Especially in online teaching, you need socializing in teams, when otherwise you only sit alone in front of the screen at home.

In addition to Google, there are various other providers that make collaborative work possible: If it is ‘only’ about writing together, tools like Etherpad and Sciflow are suitable. A chat solution in addition to the ever-popular WhatsApp is offered by Slack or Mattermost.

For creative projects, it’s worth creating a Miroboard! Miro is like an infinitely large interactive smartboard: In real time, you can track who is currently working on the board. You can stick Post-Its, write texts, create tablets and mind maps in various shapes and colors, insert images, etc. Padlet is also a similar and easy to use tool for digital collaboration.

Tools for this and that

Surveys and other presentations outside of Zoom can be organized wonderfully with Mentimeter, Ahaslides or even Kahoot. In addition, Slido is a tool to conduct surveys directly with colleagues or students and ask questions remotely. Slido is embeddable in Google presentations, making it easier to work with.

Online lectures and seminars, like face-to-face teaching, almost always require presentations that are shared with the audience. PowerPoint and the solutions from Google are the traditional ones. If you want to be a bit more creative, you can use the presentation software Prezi, for example. Sharing the screen in video chat is a good way to present something. For simultaious videos, you can use Watch2Gether which supports YouTube or Vimeo. If someone clicks on play, the application runs for all of the participants simultaneously – without time lag in their own browser.

We support you!

At TOPSIM, we are specialized when it comes to digital teaching. Would you like to use a business simulation in virtual format? We will be happy to consult you on your seminar design!

In an online workshop, Asja von Berlepsch presents different methods and tools that promote interactivity in online seminars and shows how online seminars can be conducted with business simulations. You can watch the video in german here.

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