If you're looking to improve how you handle online office hours, consider the strategies adopted by Deborah Vietze, professor of psychology and urban education at the City University of New York.
She uses Blackboard Collaborate to set up a virtual office, which she leaves open for the entire semester and holds office hours three days a week from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The following are some things that she does in this space that help her manage virtual office hours:
- Set an alert that is activated when a student enters the office. “That way I can work on other things, just as I would do in a real office while waiting for the rare student to arrive who needs my help,” she wrote in comment to a recent Teaching Professor LinkedIn discussion.
- Create a welcoming environment. Vietze uploads a colorful backdrop created in PowerPoint that clearly labels the virtual office and includes phrases such as “Here to help.” She also posts a message in the chat window that explains technical issues such as how to access the audio wizard and chat functions.
- Create a room for private conversations. Vietze has a virtual room within her virtual office where she can “drag” a student for a private discussion.