One of the challenges of online learning is the balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning. Research shows us that students enjoy synchronous activities because they support persistence, and build student-student and student-instructor presence. However, time and space constraints can impede such activities and, in many ways, defeat the advantage of anytime/anywhere learning.
Enter video-based discussion tools, such as Voicethread and Flipgrid. These tools bridge the gap between synchronous and asynchronous learning by allowing students to record video-based discussion threads. These "threads" are called "Grids" in Flipgrid. Students can record up to 5 minute videos - completely free thanks to the recent acquisition of Flipgrid by Microsoft. And because Flipgrid integrates into Canvas, the instructor can grade the discussions through the Speedgrader Assignments feature.
Are these tools an exact replacement for a live webinar? Not entirely, but they have many of the hallmarks that make it feel as though it is live. As we begin rolling out this tool at ESU, look for some research regarding its efficacy and satisfaction among students.