Making a "Connection" with your Online Students  
 
Synchronous instruction enables real-time personal participation. Synchronous sessions help students feel like participants rather than isolates. Isolation can be overcome by continued contact, particularly synchronously, and by course activities that promote student awareness of themselves as members of a community, rather than as isolated individuals interacting with the computer.

In online courses at the College, interactions between instructor and student are typically asynchronous. However, no course should be 100% asynchronous. Therefore, the College recommends that online instructors offer at least two synchronous online learning activities per online course.

 Design

Pedagogy

 
 
  The College is recommending that the online instructor adhere to the following best practices when offering synchronous learning activities:  
 
  * Instructors teaching online courses are permitted to communicate the expectation that students will participate in synchronous online learning activities. In the event that a student is unable to participate in a synchronous activity, instructors should create archives of each synchronous session to be made available to students, and/or deploy comparable asynchronous material for students to review.
  * In order to facilitate this requirement, by the first week of the course, the instructor must clearly state the synchronous learning activity schedule, expectations for student participation, and required technology.
  * Students should know at-a-glance when each synchronous session is scheduled so they can make arrangements to participate. If unable to attend, students should be instructed to communicate their absence to the instructor.
  * Strategies to engage students in synchronous learning include, but are not limited to, using individual and group instant messaging, text/video chat, web conferencing, virtual classrooms/spaces, phone calls, etc
  * Synchronous instruction should not be a simple conversion of a classroom lecture to an online lecture. Collaborative learning activities containing opportunities for students to interact should be used.
 
  Free Synchronous Tools, Apps, and Resources  
  Lecture is an example of synchronous learning in a face-to-face environment and with the advent of web conferencing tools, people can learn at the same time in different places as well. For example, use of instant messaging or live chat, webinars and video conferencing allow for students and teachers to collaborate and learn in real time. Currently there is a whole host of extremely capable and polished VoIP applications available offering free calls pc to pc and very cheap calls pc to landlines and cell phones. Here is the list of application/software that enables you to make free conference calls/video conferencing anywhere in the world.  
 
Big Blue Button
 
Big Blue Button
Big Blue Button is an open source web conferencing system for on-line learning. Big Blue Button enables you to share documents (PDF and any office document), webcams, chat, audio and your desktop. It can also record sessions for later playback. It has a Whiteboard that lets you annotate and call out key parts of your presentation. You can use any PDF presentation or Microsoft Office document to present, zoom, pan, and keep students in sync. You can brocast your desktop for all students to see and work on Mac, Unix and PC. On top of all that, Big Blue Button's voice conferencing supports voice over IP conferencing out of the box. All of your students will require speakers and a microphone to participate. And of course, multipe users can sahre thier webcam at the same time. Best of all, since it's open source, it free!
Calliflower
Iotum's Calliflower service illustrates how IP technology lets conference calling evolve into something even more useful, though the additional capabilities may not come free. Like the above services, Calliflower allows users to create conferences immediately upon registering. After entering the call's subject, agenda, date and time in the easy-to-use Web interface, customers can specify participants who will receive emailed invitations to join. The invitations provide dial-in numbers (currently available in Minnesota and France) and individual PINs for each participant. The PINs provide security by ensuring that only invitees can join.
EasyConference.com

Easy Conference
Easy Conference is one of the largest free teleconference services in the world! For businesses, organizations and individuals!FREE telephone conference calls for groups from 2-125.
FuzeBox (Meeting) Fuze Meeting
Fuze Meeting offers online meetings in HD, login and upload your content in order to start a meeting. This conference call service has a great video tool that can display a variety of video file types including HD video. Video can be forwarded and backed up, you can also zoom in and add text, arrows, shapes and notes to the video. This service can display FLV, MOV, WMV and MP4 type video files.
Free Conference Call

FreeConferenceCall.com
This service by Free Conferencing Corp. is at the bare-bones end of the free conference calling scale. Conference organizers need merely register with a name and email address. Upon doing so, they immediately receive a dial-in number, along with access codes for hosts and participants. For recording calls, organizers receive a PIN to enter after pressing *9. No reservations are necessary; all they need to do is notify people to call in at the right time.
Free Conferencing

FreeConferencing.com
This service, also by Free Conferencing Corp., is far more capable — and complicated to use — than its companion service above. It boosts maximum capacity to 1,000 participants and provides for recording and storing of unlimited numbers of conferences (though the six-hour length limit remains). It also allows broadcasting of audio files or previously recorded conferences to participants during calls. But beyond the increased capacity, its most important difference is the Web-based control interface it offers.
Google+ Hangouts

Google+ (Hangouts)
Google+ Hangouts let you video chat with up to 9 people, face-to-face-to-face. You can watch YouTube videos, wear pirate hats, or even doodle together.
Join Me

join.me
Get everybody on the same page, when they're not in the same room, instantly. Review documents and designs. Train staff. Demo products or just show off. join.me is a ridiculously simple screen sharing tool for meetings on the fly.
ooVoo

oovoo
With ooVoo, you can connect with anyone, anytime, with free video chat, video messages, phone calls, instant messaging and more. Use ooVoo to get face time with people you can't meet in person (and save travel time and money!). ooVoo makes life easier and more fun.
Skype

Skype
Skype of course doesn't support itself by taking a cut of call revenues. It does, however, get into every form of voice service it can, and conference calling is no exception. Any registered user can conduct voice conferences with up to 25 participants through the standard Skype client software. Doing so offers the service's usual benefits: free Skype-to-Skype and cheap inbound and outbound PSTN (public switched telephone network) connections.
TokBox Tokbox
Group video conferencing made simple. Connect face to face with 2 to 200 people. No fuss. No download. 20 to 25 people on the video conferencing is recommended. Tokbox aims itself clearly at the free consumer videoconferencing market.
Twiddla

Twiddla
Twiddla is a no-setup, web-based meeting playground. Mark up websites, graphics and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that converence call more producive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodo - it's all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly.
Yugma

Yugma
As Calliflower demonstrates, the natural evolution of conference calling is Web conferencing. Yugma offers free Web conferencing services for up to 20 participants, providing collaboration tools such as desktop sharing and instant messaging through downloaded client software. It also offers integrated audio conferencing, making it in effect a free conference calling service with additional features. Participants can access conferences by conventional phones, paying only long-distance charges.
Yuuguu

Yuuguu
Another Web conferencing service with integrated voice capabilities, Yuuguu provides conferences with screen sharing and additional features for up to five participants for free, and for larger numbers for pay. Sharing of screens with participants without Yuuguu client software, who must connect through their Web browsers, is limited to 100 minutes per month. For those who do have the software, sharing is unlimited. The audio conferencing feature provides dial-in numbers in the U.S and more than a dozen European countries. Screen sharing, instant messaging and voice conferencing with Skype users is also available. So is instant messaging and screen sharing with users of other IM services, including AOL, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo!