Web Conferencing Virtual office hours with BlackBoard Collaborate

Posted on Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom are web conferencing platforms with a shared display area, real-time video, voice, chat, and polling options. Although these webconferencing environments are widely used for delivering presentations online to large audiences, they can also be used for one-on-one sessions, such as Virtual Office Hours with students or research collaborations with colleagues.

Screenshot of Blackboard


  • A working student unable able to travel to campus during faculty office hours can meet the instructor online with a virtual office hour session
  • A faculty member may meet students online instead of traveling to campus on a non-teaching day, freeing up valuable time and resources spent on travel
  • A virtual office hour session may be recorded for later review
  • A faculty member may utilize features such as the video, audio, chat, shared whiteboard, application share, file share, and website navigation to guide students through a concept or provide feedback on student submitted work
  • Faculty may use a web conference session to simultaneously meet with a student and their assigned field site supervisor to review the student’s progress when meeting field study experience requirements.

Case story/usage example:

  • A Cell & Molecular Biology instructor uses the shared whiteboard in a virtual office hour to display a graphic depiction of the DNA replication process with a student who did not understand the role of DNA Polymerase III from the previous lecture.
  • A Physical Therapy instructor uses the Application Sharing feature to display a spreadsheet function during a virtual Office hour with a student.
  • An English instructor uses the File Transfer feature to return a student’s research paper containing the instructor’s feedback. Next, the instructor uses the Application Sharing function to display the Word file that includes the instructor’s inline comments. The instructor reviews comments point by point as they share a display (Application Sharing) with the student during the virtual Office hour.
  • During a virtual office hour, the instructor uses the Web Tour feature to review a recorded student presentation on YouTube, then the instructor stops the video at different points and provides the student with individualized feedback.
  • An instructor uses the Web Tour feature to guide a student through a web resource or online application such as a publisher supplementary website.
  • An instructor uses the File Transfer feature to send students handouts or documents such as a rubric to review during the virtual office hour.
  • A Public Health faculty advisor uses the office hour to meet with a Master’s student and their field site supervisor to review fieldwork requirements and the student’s individual progress report.
  • Bonus: Faculty can set up a virtual waiting room (main room) where multiple students can log on and await being sent to an individual meeting room with the instructor (private breakout room).

There are many examples of using web conferencing sessions for class or individualized student learning support. To try this strategy contact iteach@sfsu.edu