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  • Adobe Connect with the following pods: questions and answers, video, chat, document sharing, recording, polls, weblinks web links
  • The LMS Moodle (material, communication, linking online rooms, screencast with information and links to lecture recordings)
  • A wiki for the supervision of the master's thesis

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At the start of the semester both the students as well as the lecturers were trained in how to use the tools implemented. Especially for Adobe Connect the goal of the training course is not only the technical introduction but also the reduction of reservations and anxitiesanxieties.  

The dates for the online sessions are already set at the start of the semester. When selecting the dates the time zone differences in the countries of the students' residencies are taken into account. Students and lecturers click on the link of the respective session in order to meet up in the virtual Adobe Connect room. The contents and agenda of the online sessions vary according to the type of course it is and can contain the following elements: Lecture, presentation, discussion, polls. Thereby the technical possibilities of the virtual room are used: questions and answers (protocol of the questions posed during the session), video, chat, file sharing, recordings, polls. A colleague who works for the degree program hosts and supervises the online sessions. The colleague provides both technical as well as organizational support and produces a live recording. 

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The duration of the online sessions (4 hours) was definitely too long and confirmed as such. The participants' span of attention wavered so that quite a few commented: "Online teaching is a lot more strenuous than face-to-face teaching". Therefore the teaching concept should take into account the specialities specialties of online communication and collaboration. In comparison to a face-to-face course the attention span of the students sinks a lot faster and the danger of being distracted is much higher. The duration of the online sessions was adjusted to three hours and regular breaks were als also included.  

The lecturers also missed the non-verbal feedback of the students (body language, mimicry). This can be compensated by requiring alternative forms of feedback (written, oral or through micro-feedback).

Even though the online sessions mostly took lace place without a glitch, the remote technical support was a bit of a challenge for those sporadic moments when technical difficulties cropped up. With the help of e-mail communication, skype and remote desktop connections using both Adobe Connect as well as external software most of the problems could be solved. What occurred most was the "lock-up" of camera and microphone by other applications (e.g. Skype) as well as having to manage low levels of bandwidth and a high latency level. In order to keep the support costs to a minimum on a long-term basis, short screencasts (30 to 90 seconds) were produced for the most common problems that for example demonstrated the possible sources of camera lock-ups or the possibility of pausing individual video streams. Getting the students used to the online teaching environment took about 6 to 7 months.   

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