Conducting Online Meetings

In teaching at the TU Darmstadt, online meetings are sometimes held with a web conferencing system in order to hold courses in an online live format or occasionally as a hybrid course instead of on-site presence at the university. There are different implementation variants depending on the type of course. In purely online teaching, we recommend using online meetings carefully and promoting interaction in a targeted manner.

Learn more about web conferencing systems at the TU

Online-Only Teaching & Hybrid Teaching

Online meetings, which are conducted with the help of a web conferencing system, play an important role in online-only teaching, because they enable “meeting each other” and live discussion. They also enable the active participation of online participants in a hybrid course, which takes place on-site with some students.

Learn more about hybrid teaching settings

Considerations about online-meetings in online-only teaching settings

If online meetings are implemented in online-only teaching, this is the closest to the usual face-to-face teaching on-site at university. – People meet regularly. The usual teaching-learning rhythm is maintained.

However, we recommend: use online meetings with care.

Is it necessary to have live sessions every week?

Online meetings are worthwhile to facilitate direct interaction. However, if pure knowledge transfer takes place in the form of a presentation, this can also be pre-produced in the form of a video and made available on the Learning Management System . Students can watch these at their own pace. In addition, online meetings can be held in smaller groups for targeted interaction and discussion of questions.

It is also important to keep in mind:

  • Online live formats often generate high data loads (with an increasing number of participants).
  • Not all students can participate live in the course (e.g., for technical reasons); for these, documentation should be made available on the Learning Management System.
  • Designing online meetings interactively is challenging (technically and didactically) and should be well prepared.

Based on the number of participants and the desired amount of interaction in a course, the following implementation variants for online meetings usually result. The transitions are fluid, but the larger the group, the more challenging it is to design an online meeting interactively.

The group is still small enough for the participants to have a direct interaction with each other via sound and possibly video – moderated by you as the instructor.

  • possible for seminars, exercises, tutorials, group work (up to 20 – 30 participants)
  • a high amount of interaction possible through direct audio/video communication, chat and screen sharing to show each other something

Interactive Design

Even if the technical possibilities and the smaller number of participants theoretically allow a high amount of interaction, participants are often reserved if the interaction is not specifically encouraged and moderated.

Here is a selection of several methods:

  • Use of whiteboard or temporary work in virtual group workrooms (possible with most oft the web conferencing systems)
  • Involvement of further online tools, for example:

Get more ideas to encourage interaction.

Online meetings conducted in a presentation format are usually characterised by a low level of interaction. This is often caused by a larger group size, where a direct interaction via audio/video is no longer workable. Communication between participants is usually limited to chat.

  • possible for small to medium-sized lectures (up to 300 students)
  • presentations are usually shown via screen sharing
  • meeting room settings should be set so that participants are muted when they enter and their video is switched off

With increasing teaching experience and knowledge of the web conferencing system, the level of interaction can also be increased in this format.

Possibilities for more interactivity and variety:

  • More than one person presents an input (there should be a moderator for this setting).
  • Students can write questions in the chat, these are collected and the instructor responds to them at certain times (here, too, a moderator is advisable who monitors the chat and collects the questions).
  • Targeted question sessions via the chat or the report function, i.e., the instructor asks a question and the students should answer via the chat or the raise hand feature. Then their microphone is actively switched on.
  • Include live voting to encourage students to “think and stay tuned,” just as in a face-to-face lectures at the lecture hall (live voting systems or polls in the web conferencing systems can be used for this).
  • Interrupt the presentation format during the teaching session and include phases that are more seminar-like, e.g., by having the large group work temporarily in virtual group workrooms.
  • Creative implementation of activating didactic methods also in larger courses – take a look at our collection of ideas to encourage interaction .

Alternative to online meetings in presentation formats

Alternatively, the presentation-oriented knowledge transfer can be outsourced to pre-produced videos that are made available on the Learning Management System . In addition, you can offer smaller online meetings (e.g., supported by tutors), which are more interactive in the form of seminars to enable a direct interaction and to discuss questions.

You can also encourage interaction in the asynchronous learning phases via the Learning Management System to give students a feeling of social inclusion. This is often a neglected but important success factor for the learning process and a challenge in larger courses, especially online.

Recording online meetings

In principle, it is also possible to record online meetings in presentation format – as a backup and to make them available to students (who could not participate) later via the Learning Management System.

You should generally ask for the consent of the participants! – This is particularly important if individual participants are recorded via audio/video contributions or by name in the chat.

Especially for courses with a large number of participants, there is also the technical option of offering them as a live stream.

Live streams can be implemented with the web conferencing systems Zoom , DFNconf, and with the video content management system Panopto .

The live stream of a teaching session is an option for very large numbers of participants and means a 1-to-N transmission, mostly without a discussion channel, i.e., zero interaction. It has a lower data load than an online meeting, which means that a more stable transmission can be expected. However, setting up a live stream can be technically challenging.

Students access the live stream simply via a link they receive from the instructor beforehand. However, they do not join the online room. This means that you as the instructor do not see any participants at that moment.

The live stream can also be an option in a hybrid teaching session , with a more presentational teaching format.

Tips and Hints:

  • By conducting live votings , you can still offer your students moments of interaction, and a feedback channel is created with which the participation becomes visible.
  • You can also record streams – both as a backup and to make them even more available to students later via the learning platform.
  • An alternative and technically much simpler and more secure solution, but without a “live moment,” is the pre-produced lecture recording , which is made available to the students in the learning platform at certain times.

Online meetings are not only helpful in pure online teaching, there are also settings in traditional face-to-face teaching in the lecture hall/seminar room in which online meetings are a helpful addition. In some cases, the transition to hybrid teaching is fluid.


  • Online consultation hours in addition to the on-site course, can be carried out flexibly with several students. The instructor can, for example, use a tablet and the whiteboard function to recalculate individual tasks. The students can ask questions via voice mail/chat.
  • International cooperations in teaching can be achieved more easily with the help of online meetings. (Examples: German-Polish Cooperation Seminar, Projects on Intercultural Competence Development)
  • External experts who could otherwise only be invited to the course at great expense (time, travel costs) can be easily connected to an expert discussion via the web conferencing system.
  • Presentations can be followed live online via the web conferencing system and questions can be asked via the chat channel – for example, in the case of presentations by invited speakers that you would like to open up to a group of people who cannot be present on site.