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Planning a Real Time Session
December 27, 2018 (published)
Peggy Hall



Course Area - this is the web page from which you will access the course main page, library, classroom (webinar), and message boards.

Zoom Webinar - this is the web page where the audio based interactive Real Time Sessions are held. The Zoom Webinar contains a collection of windows that are used to deliver your presentation to the participants.  Visual content (images and videos) are delivered to the course participants via the Presentation window.

Q & A Window- this is a tool that collects text sent by the participants during the session.  When the instructor reaches a natural break in the presentation, they can then use the Q&A window to present a selection of participant questions with their (the instructor's) answers.

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Covering the Topic

The session presentation, library content, and the supplemental discussions on the course message boards should provide a complete presentation of the topic for each session.

It's fine to reference library materials in your presentation, but including any significant blocks of hand-out text verbatim in your presentation will be redundant to those participants who prepare ahead of time and will discourage participants from studying the library materials. As a general rule, remedial or background materials that bring everyone to a common, basic level of understanding are best covered in library materials. Topics that may interest some class participants, but not everyone, are also good library materials. Topics that lend themselves to back-and-forth discussions are well suited for the course message boards, often as study or discussion questions. For Real Time Sessions (RTS) include those aspects of the topic that:

  • are the most important,
  • lend themselves to group problem-solving, or
  • are new, different, or controversial.

If you expect a subject to generate considerable discussion, you can introduce the subject during the Real Time Session and invite the participants to take the discussion to the course message boards later.

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Accommodating Different Learning Styles

VIN and VSPN CE courses are RACE accredited because they provide interactive learning experiences for active learners. To accomplish interactive learning, the instructor needs to involve and engage the participants during the Real Time Session.

One key to a successful session is having the right mix of:

  • lecture and graphics (use of slides and videos).
  • instructor-initiated questions with answers from the participants (use of polls).
  • participant-initiated questions with answers from the instructor (use of Q&A window).

During the Real Time Session it's best not to have a long duration for any single activity, especially the presentation of the lecture; instead, alternate between lecture, polls, showing graphics, and answering questions.

For clinical topics, case examples are always appreciated. Some participants will learn very well by following an example of how a diagnosis was arrived at or a case was managed.

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A poll is a multiple choice question with 2 or more possible answers. The question can have a single correct answer (radio button), multiple correct answers (checkbox), or no correct answers (this would be an opinion poll). Polls are delivered to the session participants in a pop-up window.  Participants select one (or more) of the listed possible answers and use the SUBMIT button to submit their poll answer.

  • Polls appeal to participants with an active learning style.
  • Polls give all participants equal opportunities to earn participation points without the delays of open-ended questions directed to all participants.
  • Polls provide an opportunity to participate even if the participant is uncertain of the correct answer. Participants are shown how many have selected each of the answer options, but each participant's answer is not known to the other participants.

Polls can be used to:

  • survey what participants do in their practices and the clinical experiences they have had; determine what equipment and treatment options are available to participants, elicit opinions.
  • introduce a subtopic.
  • call attention to key information presented on a slide.
  • confirm that participants have understood the material presented.
  • reinforce the take-home point(s).
  • allow participants to work through a case example step-by-step by answering what they would do at each stage.

A typical poll requires approximately 45 seconds for sending the poll question and receiving a sufficient number of responses to close the poll and display the poll answer summation. If the poll requires a complicated question statement and/or lengthy, detailed responses, plan more time for it. If calculations are required, even more time will be needed, for many participants will not have needed tools (pencil, paper, calculator) available initially.

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Q&A Window

This Zoom™ window optimizes the use of time and instructor resource.

  • If a question cannot be answered at the time it is posed, the question can be answered at any natural break in the presentation. 
  • Instructors can dismiss questions they do not plan to answer during the Real Time Session.
  • Instructors can tag questions that should be sent to the course message boards if those questions require more detailed answers than can be accommodated during the Real Time Session.

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Your Introduction

Please consider the following when planning your presentation introduction:

  • This is a good time for making announcements. You may wish to include comments on course message board postings and new materials in the library. Participants seem to appreciate a personal touch, including a greeting, at the start of the session. If they're doing well with homework or message boards, e.g., joining in the discussions or posing new, related questions for consideration, you may want to mention it.

  • It helps orient the participants if you tell them what you plan to cover and how you're going about it. Since you have 2 hours for your VIN Real Time Session or 1.5 hours for your VSPN Real Time Session, participants won't mind a few minutes of "warm up." There are always a few stragglers also, so an introduction helps them feel not so far behind when they arrive.

  • You may wish to remind participants to include the context within their questions when composing them. A question, such as "What's the dose?", won't mean anything to you if there's any delay between when you have covered a topic in the presentation and when you notice the question in the Q&A window. Participants sometimes forget this. Although the moderators will have reminded them, sometimes a reminder from the instructor makes a greater impact.

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Preparing Your Presentation

Instructors are supported by VIN and VSPN staff who help prepare your course materials and assist you during the Real Time Session

  • You will need to turn in a PowerPoint presentation to your facilitator approximately 2 weeks before the scheduled Real Time Session.  The PowerPoint presentation will contain the outline of your lecture, images, videos (optional), and polls.  See Slideshows for information on PowerPoint presentation recommendations. 
  • For courses that offer CE credit, the inclusion of poll questions and breaks to respond to participant questions will allow participants the opportunity to earn points towards their course CE certificate.
    • We recommend that you have at least one planned break in your presentation to answer questions. For Rounds or sessions that are less than 2 hours long, this is typically done at the end of the presentation.  For a 2 hour session, you might consider an additional break for questions approximately halfway through your lecture.
    • We recommend you provide a minimum of 5 polls per hour of lecture in your PowerPoint presentation. Try to space the polls in your lecture so they aren't all clumped together.
  • Your facilitator will review your presentation to verify the presence of copyright text, check spelling, check formatting consistency, etc.  It is important that the presentation you use for the Real Time Session matches the presentation saved to the course library.
    • Your facilitator will generate handouts (a pdf file) of your PowerPoint presentation slides and place it in the course library.  Participants can then download the handouts, print them, and use them to take notes during the lecture, if that's their preferred method of learning.
    • Your PowerPoint slides will also be converted into an online slideshow that will be incorporated into the text transcript of the Real Time Session.
    • The polling information will be extracted from the PowerPoint slides and manually entered into the Zoom webinar definition by your facilitator prior to the Real Time Session.  During the Real Time Session, polls will be sent by one of the session moderators when they see the poll slide displayed. The participants can then respond to the poll using a polling popup window.
  • Please speak with your facilitator to schedule a webinar training session and audio check prior to your first Real Time Session.

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Pre-Recording Your Lecture (Optional)

  • You can add an audio recording to a PowerPoint slide. This is typically done when the instructor wishes to pre-record the lecture and just be available for answering questions during the real time session.  Your facilitator will turn the PowerPoint presentation with pre-recorded audio into a series of short videos.  The videos will be played during the webinar and the transitions between videos can be used as an opportunity to check for and answer questions from the participants. If you are interested in pre-recording your lecture, please consult with your course facilitator.  Pre-recording a lecture takes additional time and you will need to get your PowerPoint presentation finished much earlier than if you planned to do your presentation "live."
  • To record in Power Point go to the "Insert" tab at the top of the screen and choose the audio option. There you choose record audio and record each slide. You can change one slide without having to re record the whole course this way. It is recommended that you use a headset with a microphone instead of using the computer microphone as the results are clearer. Please contact your facilitator if you do not have a headset and we can provide one for you.

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If you are a new instructor and want specific feedback from an experienced VIN or VSPN instructor about your first session, in advance of what we hope will be many sessions in a long and fruitful educational partnership, please ask. All the moderators are generally quite good at providing feedback about how the participants are doing as the session goes along. But, if you would like experienced VIN or VSPN instructor feedback after the session (from a veterinarian or veterinary technician, as applicable), please ask in advance so we can arrange to have the right person attend your session.

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A Final Note

The VIN and VSPN CE teams are available to answer questions and provide help whenever you need them, before and during the Real Time Sessions. The VIN/VSPN Community recognizes that you're providing a valuable service to the VINners and VSPNners who are participating in your CE course or rounds session. The VIN/VSPN team wants each session to be a valuable learning experience for the participants and a rewarding and enjoyable experience for you. We hope you'll want to instruct VINners and VSPNners again. Thank you.

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