zoomThe idea of virtual office hours is always alluring, yet if not employing best practices, then it can be a time waster or something under utilized and quickly given up on.

WHEN/ Timing

  1. Start with Students’ Availability
    A common error is to start with YOUR schedule and just throw it out there…
    Survey your students in-class or via canvas etc. to get a range of viable days/times for students…
    It’s best to consult with your students before deciding when you’ll hold office hours and then schedule times that are convenient for them.”
  2. Around What Deadlines Would Your Availability Be Most Helpful to Students?
    Students are fully dialed into a course around deadlines, so consider offering some of your availability for online ‘Student Drop In Q&A’ close to key higher stakes assignment deadlines. Maybe even set your deadline due dates with an eye toward your schedule for supporting them with Virtual Drop In Time vs back and forth messaging under duress.
    “Schedule special virtual office hours, being available by chat or live classroom, e-mail, or phone, particularly when learners are likely to be working on an important assignment. In the interests of time and community, it is best to use a communication tool where responses and content can be shared with everyone and archived for flexibility in access and review.”


For students to engage in this opportunity, there needs to be some introduction to students to explain WHY/ What is in it for them.

  1. “Put Out Fire Q&A”
    Related to timing around key deadlines, rather than doing time draining back and forth messaging, students just popping into ‘Drop In’ times can SHOW you anything they are having issues with, and likewise, you can SHOW and explain models/ resources to get students Confusions resolved and back on their way.
  2. Trip Wire Remediation
    Handled, gingerly, you can require students who perform poorly to attend a live online session with you. However, you need to make sure these are viewed as productive opportunities vs ‘punishment.’ Likewise, offering other volunteer online times so that meeting with you online is NOT only for those struggling.
    “I require all students that earn less than 60% on any exam to meet with me for a little coaching session… Together, we go over the materials to find out where they are having difficulty. It is usually either 1) they are not receiving the material effectively, 2) they are not studying the material efficiently, or 3) they have test-taking problems. I have suggested strategies to help mitigate any or all of these issues. Most students improve significantly if they heed this advice.”
    -Dr. Clifton Franklund, Ferris State University
  3. ‘Muddiest Points’ Review Q&A Fill In Gaps
    You can prompt informally or otherwise that students take notes during a week/ unit etc. and make sure to note the most confusing/ muddiest points’ from the material. Then you can route those questions into informal Q&A sessions during online sessions.
  4. Etc?? — Many Other Framing/ Possibilities!


  1. Login to Zoom either via the website (www.zoom.us) or the desktop app
  3. Copy the Meeting Link
  4. Post this link to students via Canvas/ Inbox/ Email etc. along with the Zoom How To for Students Cheat Sheet.
  5. Just before the scheduled meeting time, again login to either the Zoom website/desktop app
  7. START the meeting

For more, see the Full orientation to hosting live sessions online via Zoom

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