Online Seminars: Group discussions using Skype


Online Seminars: Group discussions using Skype

Flexible opportunities to communicate with tutors and engage in learning is increasingly required in which to meet the needs of students with diverse working patterns and lifestyles. Programme Director, Dr Virginia Bower, has devised a regular webinar strategy to allow students to discuss their progress and learning outside the traditional classroom / office environment (for the unacquainted, a webinar is a seminar conducted over the internet). By using Skype and Doodle Poll software, the strategy allows students to communicate with both their peers and tutor at various times and locations.


After enrolling on a programme of study, students are requested to download the Skype software for free and register a username – this is then communicated to the tutor in readiness for their first webinar.  After collecting a list of usernames, the tutor can then generate a Skype group in which to generate a simultaneous conversation with a range of students in a variety of locations.

Given the fact that students have diverse commitments and responsibilities, it is often difficult to arrange a time for an online discussion that allows all to attend. The use of Doodle Poll is used to address this challenge; students are invited to indicate times they are available, whilst being able to see when others are available too.

Once a time has been agreed, the tutor and students join the Skype group chat that allows them to simultaneously see and listen to each other.


This strategy provides the following benefits for teaching and learning:

  • The strategy provides the flexibility and convenience of allowing students access to learning and tutorials at various locations without the restriction of the traditional classroom.

  • The strategy allows collaboration in which  students and tutors can discuss the learning experience and share ideas – it therefore has the benefits of widening and enriching students’ understanding in what might otherwise be an isolated activity.

Resources and support

The following tools and resources offer guidelines for the implementation of the above strategy within your own pedagogic practice. The tools and resources are separated into three categories: Easy, intermediate or advanced.


Creating a Skype Group chat

If you do not already have Skype on your computer, click here to get started.

After you have access to Skype, you will need to create an account – to do this, click here.

The following video explains how to generate a Skype Group chat.


Creating a Doodle Poll

Doodle Polls allow you to organise meeting times at points when everyone is available – the tool offers the opportunity to indicate your preferences whilst also seeing other peer / colleague availability.

To create a Doodle account, click here.

The following video demonstrates how to generate a Doodle poll:

Further support

If you need further support implementing this strategy, or you would like to know more, contact either the Senior Lecturer in Blended Learning, Lee Hazeldine (, or the Learning Technologist, Sam McFarlane ( to arrange a discussion at your convenience.

April 3, 2017 | Dr Virginia Bower

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