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LiveTalks are online sessions, similar to webinars, that allow faculty or their guests to interact in real-time with students in Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health online courses.

At its root, a LiveTalk is an upgraded Zoom meeting. But a LiveTalk, scheduled through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and accessed through a course site, is so much more than an online meeting. These sessions are purposefully woven into the course design, are aligned with learning objectives, and are an essential part of the curriculum. LiveTalks are covered in Introduction to Online Learning, the class required of all students matriculating into a degree or certificate program at the Bloomberg School, as well as anyone planning to take an online course at the school.

LiveTalks are accessed through CoursePlus, where students can find the links to join LiveTalk sessions and subsequent recordings, transcripts, and/or chat files. These are all available on the dedicated LiveTalk page of any online course offering. Each session can also be evaluated via a survey available on this same page. In addition, CoursePlus captures the analytics of student activity from this page, including click-throughs for the live sessions and any subsequent downloads. These data are included in the faculty reports.

Zoom Account Requirements for LiveTalks

CTL recommends faculty have a licensed Zoom account (ideally, provisioned through the Johns Hopkins IT Service Catalog) before hosting a LiveTalk. While a free, basic account can be provisioned through that catalog, and faculty can optionally sign up for a pro or business account separate from Johns Hopkins, the University’s licensed account will allow recordings to stay in the cloud longer (180 days) and allow a much greater number of simultaneous participants (300) compared with nonenterprise basic and pro accounts.

Some LiveTalk sessions will require that each participant be signed into a valid Zoom account to join the meeting. This prevents unknown guests from joining LiveTalk sessions. Therefore, all students, including teaching assistants (TAs), are instructed to be signed into a Zoom account before joining any LiveTalk. Those students with an active JHED ID can access a limited licensed account by visiting the Zoom for Johns Hopkins Students site. These accounts, by default, allow for meetings with more than two participants to go beyond the typical (free account) duration of 40 minutes. However, unlike with the faculty-provisioned accounts, meetings can be recorded only locally to the host’s computer.

TAs needing the ability to record to the cloud should contact IT@JH University Information Systems for Zoom support.

Benefits of LiveTalks

Why should faculty schedule LiveTalks in their online courses? The reasons are many:

  • Provide opportunities for student-centric learning when the session is framed around student conversation and/or presentations

  • Give guest lecturers and subject-matter experts a forum for interacting with students

  • Provide students with immediate answers to their questions and concerns

  • Provide detailed explanations of special concepts that are not scripted, but instead customized to the level of understanding of the current group of individual students

  • Conduct review sessions for exams

  • Conduct wrap-around events for lab sessions

  • Present and host student projects or debates

  • Build a sense of community in the online courses similar to that intrinsic to synchronous opportunities

In addition, advantages of a true LiveTalk over simply hosting a Zoom meeting include:

  • Integration of the event into the CoursePlus Content page as a Schedule Builder item, complete with the option to “mark as complete”

  • Predictable navigation in the CoursePlus site on the course’s LiveTalk page, where students see familiar buttons and hyperlinks to connect to the session and, afterward, download the recording, transcript, and chat files

  • Automatically generated CoursePlus survey to capture student feedback on the session, also available from the LiveTalk page

  • Captured analytics of student “participation” click-throughs for the LiveTalk session and its artifacts, available through the Student Activity Reports in the Administrative Tools area of the Faculty Tools page

Scheduling a LiveTalk

Faculty are strongly encouraged to have their LiveTalk guests, dates, and times finalized at least a month before the term opens. This allows students to see the dates on the Schedule page of the public course syllabus. The dates for these sessions should be discussed with a course’s appointed CTL instructional designer when planning a course. Additionally, faculty may want to discuss potential concerns with overlapping or adjacent sessions within their programs or departments. A list of all currently scheduled LiveTalks is available by request to CTL Help or instructional design team member.

For our default faculty self-run LiveTalks, our complete set of instructions is available for review.

Faculty teams are able to schedule their LiveTalk events directly inside the CoursePlus Schedule Builder tool. (This feature was rolled out in the summer of 2024.) As long as these event types are not hidden from displaying to students, enrolled students will also see the sessions listed on the course’s LiveTalk page with dates and times automatically synchronized to the schedule. If a course has previously been offered with a LiveTalk, the event is carried over any time a course is copied to other offerings (terms). However, by default, the dates of LiveTalk events made from course copies are not actually displayed to students until they are unmasked by the faculty team. Instead, the session title appears as a placeholder on the syllabus schedule and course content pages. As soon it is edited to be unmasked, the calendar date will appear to the students and the LiveTalk page will be updated. 

LiveTalk Training

CTL regularly offers LiveTalk training for faculty and TAs new to the tool. Invitations are sent out approximately one month prior to the start of the academic term, and sessions are usually held the week before the term starts. The training is also beneficial for any faculty hosting a Zoom session in their class, apart from a LiveTalk, for instance, in a blended or hybrid course, or for a pivoted virtual class session in the event of campus closure.

See the Events page to view current availability and to register. Faculty who have already attended the training but would like a review can also see this video tutorial.

Preparing for a LiveTalk

To prepare for a LiveTalk, in addition to attending LiveTalk training, faculty can review this short CTL video tutorial as well as look through Zoom's video tutorials and the written guides in Zoom’s Help Center. To set up polls or breakout rooms or otherwise prepare for a LiveTalk, faculty should review the Zoom tutorials and guides.

In addition, faculty can do the following:

  • Request students submit questions (perhaps via the Discussion Forum or email) in advance of the LiveTalk.

  • Take the opportunity to remind students of what is expected of them during the session (e.g., will they be encouraged to use their webcams, engage in chat, or raise hands and be called on before unmuting their microphones?) and the following:

    • They should be logged into Zoom (university account or other) before connecting.

    • The stand-alone, full version of Zoom is preferred over the mobile or web version and their Zoom client should be up-to-date.

    • They should know the system and environment requirements (e.g. earbuds are preferred to built-in microphones, students should be in a quiet place if possible, etc.).

    • They can perform the connection test on the Zoom test meeting site.

    • They should check their webcam and audio settings as soon as they log into the LiveTalk.

  • Post an agenda for the LiveTalk and its slides in the Online Library. When developing the session, be certain of the LiveTalk’s goals or objectives and how they fit with the rest of the course’s learning outcomes. Sharing this with students will boost their engagement.

Cancellation and Other LiveTalk Policies

Cancellation Policy

If for any reason, a LiveTalk session must be canceled, faculty should email  and their instructional designer no later than 24 hours (one full business day) in advance of the scheduled session. It is the responsibility of the course faculty/TA to notify students of a canceled event.

Snow/Campus Closure Policy

In the event that the University closes for inclement weather or another emergency, Multimedia and CTL will also close on-campus offices. Instructional designers will notify faculty if their sessions might be affected, but faculty must still communicate this, and alternate arrangements such as separate Zoom meetings, to their students.

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