UW Continuum College Instructor Resources

SyncDL Courses

Some instructors at UW PCE teach classroom students and online students simultaneously. At UW PCE, we refer to this as a “synchronous distance learning” (SyncDL) approach. This approach allows us to reach students who are unable to travel to our classroom locations. Online students in SyncDL courses are held to the same attendance and participation expectations as classroom students; they attend class virtually via Zoom.

SyncDL courses are assigned course assistants who attend class each week in person. The assistant’s primary role is to act as a liaison between online students and the classroom attendees though they may also provide general as needed technical support and bookkeeping. In some cases, they are called upon to help with course website management and grading. Course assistants are recruited from UW campus graduate programs and from certificate program alumni. Instructors are welcome to recommend candidates.

Engaging students in SyncDL classrooms can be challenging and instructors need to think carefully about how they teach and how they organize activities. For each strategy you use with classroom students, there needs to be a way for online students to also engage.

For example, give some thought on how you will have students introduce themselves to each other. Turn-and-talk introductions will work fine in-person, but how will you get online students to introduce themselves? How will you get online students and in-person students to meet each other? In such a case, it might make sense to ask students to upload a short video introduction to the course website (perhaps as a homework assignment) or make sure online students have microphones on their computers and can speak aloud to the classroom.

Materials from a workshop hosted by the University of Washington Center for Teaching and Learning, October 2014, for SyncDL instructors are available below: