We will be adding resources to this site regularly, check back often.
Getting Started – Communicate, Plan, Adapt, Communicate
- Communicate with your students right away: Even if you don’t have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible, informing them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking email or Moodle so you can get them more details soon.
- Embrace your teaching philosophy as you make plans for remote instruction. Use your pedagogical design skills to engage students in the rigorous and invigorating learning experiences you already know and use regularly.
- Preview your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities which may include providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc.
- Think about what aspects of a course are essential and focus on those elements. Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule.
- If possible, pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students: Try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students and roll out new tools only when absolutely necessary. Practice using tools (like Hangouts Meet or Zoom) before you use them live.
- Clarify expectations for students including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students’ ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
- As with any changed activities and expectations, you will need to balance the needs and benefits with the additional effort each engagement will require. Learning new technologies and procedures might be counterproductive, particularly in the short term, unless there is a clear benefit.
Setting Up a Central Virtual Meeting Point
- Select a virtual location where students can access course content, announcements and other course materials such as Moodle, Google Classroom or WordPress.
- Avoid relying on email as your “meeting point” since many attachments may be too large to send using this tool.
- Select a tool that you have been using for the course. If you haven’t been using one of these tools regularly, we encourage you to use Moodle, since most students find this tool easy to use and have experience navigating within this platform.
Tools to set up a central virtual meeting point
Moodle – Moodle is Colby’s course management system. Each course taught at the College gets an automatically generated site where student enrollment is kept up-to-date. The Moodle platform features many commonly used class tools such as discussion forums, assignment submission, text chat, a quizzing tool, and easy means of posting files and linking to other resources at Colby and beyond.
For most, Moodle is a good choice for a central meeting point.
Other options for central meeting points include:
Google Drive – Combines Google’s productivity tools with its virtually limitless storage.
WordPress – Lets you create a custom website for your course.
Google Classroom – A simple tool that allows for assignment management and grading.
Confluence wiki – A web collaboration platform.
Creating Media Recordings of Lectures or Lessons
- When moving a class partially or fully to remote modes, delivering pre-recorded lectures or lessons (asynchronous delivery) is a more accessible option for users of ALL abilities.
- Consider captioning your videos using the tools described below.
- Chunking videos clips into 5-10 minute segments enhances student engagement.
- Adding videos to your Central Virtual Meeting point (see above, e.g., Moodle) ensures all students can access these resources.
- Instead of posting video recordings of lectures, you can also add PowerPoint files with notes or other documentation to support student learning.
Tools for creating media recordings of lecture or lessons
If you would like to record a lecture or lesson and then share it afterward, there are a variety of approaches:
- You can use Quicktime player (Mac) to create a screen recording or “talking-head” lecture or lesson and then upload the video to Google Drive, YouTube, or Vimeo for sharing
- You can also use Zoom or Google Hangouts Meet to make screen recordings with a “talking-head” inset by starting a meeting, turning on recording, and then sharing your computer screen with the meeting. When finished, upload the video to Google Drive, YouTube, or Vimeo for sharing and linked to it in Moodle.
- Video recordings can also be created using something as simple as a smartphone or a camcorder which can also be uploaded to Google Drive, YouTube, or Vimeo for sharing and linked to it in Moodle
In most cases, Google Drive is the best way to distribute videos to students. Just be sure to turn on link sharing.
Non-video approaches are an option as well:
- Record audio using a personal digital audio recorder or phone app.
- Use a smartphone or camera to take pictures of a whiteboard or other visual content.
Using web video conferencing for class meetings
- As you consider ways to convene with your students, keep in mind that not all classes need to be held on a live virtual stream (synchronously).
- Using synchronous Hangout Meet or Zoom sessions requires that your students have access to Internet services that can support live streaming, which may not be the case for all students when they are away from campus.
- If this is the option you want to utilize, make sure you test the system with all students prior to hosting a class session.
- To ensure that students can attend any live video conferencing you set up for your course, make sure to schedule the session during class time and that students make the necessary time adjustments for their time zone.
Tools for using web video conferencing for class meetings
Google has made the advanced version of Hangouts Meet available to all education customers until July 1, 2020. Since Colby is a G-Suite campus, it is the simplest choice for web video conferencing.
Here is what you need to make this happen:
- A computer with a built-in webcam and microphone. This combination will work well for small classes such as discussions and seminars.
- Other materials, like slides and pictures taken of classroom whiteboards, can then be separately shared on Moodle or Google Drive.
Delivering Course Content
- You will likely need to provide additional course materials to support your changing plans, from updated schedules to readings that allow you to shift more instruction online. Possibly providing some new readings and related assignments may be your best bet for keeping the intellectual momentum of the course moving.
- Add files to your Virtual Central Meeting Location (documents, PDFs, PowerPoints, audio or video) or your central virtual meeting point.
- If you must use email to deliver content, create guides to the attachments so students understand what is found in each file.
- Students without internet access may need to visit a local library, coffee shop or other public places that offer internet access, so make it clear when content will be available.
Tools for delivering course content
- Use Moodle to post links to audio or video recordings of class assignments or lectures.
- Provide online access to course documents such as homework assignments, case studies, and other course materials.
- Limit the use of content or sources that students cannot access electronically (e.g., videos, texts on reserve, physical items).
Communicating with Students
- Hold virtual office hours using your Central Virtual Meeting Point, but also consider having some phone options in case students experience issues connecting to the Internet.
- Create “email office hour” times when you will be sending immediate responses to student email queries.
- Keeping in touch with students is vital during any changes to your classes.
- You’ll want to let students know about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations.
- Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety, and save you time dealing with individual questions.
- Let students know about changes as early as possible, even if all the details aren’t in place yet, and let them know when they can expect more specific information.
- Set expectations about how you plan to communicate with them, and how often.
- Manage your communications load by keeping track of frequently asked questions and sending those replies out to everyone. This way, students know they might get a group reply in a day versus a personal reply within an hour.
- Consider creating an information page on your Virtual Central Meeting Location, and then encourage students to check there first for answers before emailing you.
Tools for communicating with students
- Using an online threaded discussion on Moodle to keep the lines of communication open between you and students.
- Academic ITS Moodle resources
- Communicate regularly with your students to ensure that they are making appropriate progress.
- Hold office hours via web video meetings or provide options for students to reach you by phone.
- Update materials on Moodle to reflect changes in the syllabus, assignments or other class requirements.
Fostering Student Engagement and Interaction
Fostering communication among students is important because it allows you to reproduce any collaboration you build into your course and maintains a sense of community that can help keep students motivated to participate and learn. It helps if you already had some sort of student-to-student online activity (for example, Blackboard Discussions) since students will be used to both the process and the tool.
- Use asynchronous tools when possible. Having students participate in live Zoom conversations can be useful, but scheduling can be a problem, and only a few students will actively participate (just like in your classroom). In such cases, using asynchronous tools like Moodle Discussion Forums and Google Docs allows students to participate on their own schedules. In addition, bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are far lower than for live video tools.
- Make sure there are clear purposes and outcomes for any student-to-student interaction.
- Find ways to make sure students are accountable for the work they do in any online discussions or collaborations. For example, ask for reflective statements where students detail their contributions and reflect on what they learned from the conversation.
Tools for fostering student engagement and interaction
- Moodle forums allow for robust student discussions. These forums are integrated into the Moodle gradebook to facilitate tracking of student work.
- If you are using a WordPress site, have students create blog posts to keep a learning journal, comment on posts from other students, and/or give students an environment in which they post reflections on course content or assignments.
- Academic ITS WordPress resources
- Consider using web-based document sharing applications like Google Docs to allow students to complete group projects and assignments.
- Academic ITS Google Apps resources
- Encourage students to use web video conferencing to study or collaborate with other students.
Assessing Student Learning
- Collecting electronic assignments is not a new element of our academic lives, but it can be for some courses. Asking students to complete assignments online or submit their work online can be done using Moodle or Google Drive.
- If you are collecting papers or other written assignments require specific filenames. It may sound trivial, but anyone who collects papers electronically knows the pain of getting 20 files named Essay1.docx. Give your students a simple file naming convention, for example, FirstnameLastname-Essay1.docx.
- Create quizzes, tests, and exams online using tools provided by your textbook publisher or using Moodle or your favorite online testing tool.
- Consider alternative testing options to replace multiple-choice exams such as case studies and essays.
Tools for assessing student learning
Moodle – Use activities to create assignments that are automatically integrated into its gradebook. There is also a quiz activity for creating multiple-choice, short answer, and other kinds of exams. Use the Moodle Essay type question to deliver a timed downloadable take-home quiz.
Creating Remote Laboratory Experiences
- One of the biggest challenges of teaching during a building or campus closure is sustaining the lab components of classes. Since many labs require specific equipment, they are hard to reproduce outside of that physical space.
- Identify which of your lab activities can be delivered online. Many videos and online laboratory resources (see below) provide opportunities for students to view demonstrations and/or run experimental simulations.
- In cases where the lab includes both the collection of data and its analysis, consider showing how the data can be collected, and then provide some raw sets of data for students to analyze.
- Sometimes labs are more about having time for direct student interaction, so consider other ways to replicate that level of contact if it is only your lab that is out of commission.
Tools for creating remote laboratory experiences
- Provide students with raw data to analyze. If your course involves data collection and analysis, consider walking your students through/demonstrating the data collection yourself, and then providing your students with data to analyze.
- Investigate virtual lab options. You may be able to accomplish some lab activities via online simulation. Below, we’ve provided a few options for you to investigate.
- MERLOT Simulation Collection (California State University
- ChemCollective (joint project from NSF, Carnegie Mellon, and NSDL)
- PhET Interactive Simulations (University of Colorado – Boulder)
- eScienceLabs (Fee-based service that will work with faculty to create custom online and hands-on lab kits for your course.
- Hands-On Labs (Fee-based service that will work with faculty to create custom online and hands-on lab kits for your course)
Supporting Learning in Language Courses
- For highly-interactive classes, the instructor can host a Zoom meeting for the whole class and create breakout rooms within Zoom for smaller groups.
- Instructors can organize smaller groups of students to complete speaking assignments outside of Zoom or Moodle using their technology of choice to talk with other members of the group.
- Assign discussion prompts using the discussion board feature on Moodle.
- Take full advantage of Google Docs to collaboratively write or edit a story.
Tools for supporting learning in language courses
Information to follow…
Providing Academic Accommodations to Remote Learners with Disabilities
- Create intentional and regular meetings with students to identify and respond to issues early on and support self-scheduling and time management skills.
- Include flexible policies and practices to support students who manage chronic or mental health conditions as their stress and anxiety are likely to increase.
- Use a universal design approach to implementing academic accommodations remotely. For examples and more information, check out colby.edu/disabilityaccess
- Reach out to Kate McLaughlin to troubleshoot the specifics of your course in remote form so as to implement accommodations efficiently.
Strategies for providing academic accommodations to remote learners with disabilities
- Offer multiple ways for students to receive content, from videos to lecture notes to alternative web-based resources to support your lectures.
- Offer multiple opportunities for students to engage with the content, from using small groups/pairs to review and discuss material to asking students to submit responses before and after each lecture on specific topics.
- Offer multiple opportunities to be assessed, from traditional timed quizzes to short responses, oral exams via google hangouts and project-based work.
- Allow extra time on a Moodle quiz
Additional resources for teaching remotely
- Going Online in a Hurry: Michelle D. Miller (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Tips and Tricks for Teaching in the Online Classroom: Jim Harrison and J. Diane Martonis (Faculty Focus)
- Selecting the Appropriate Communication Tools for Your Online Course: Rob Kelly (Faculty Focus)
- 8 Lessons Learned from Teaching Online: EDUCAUSE Research Library
- How To Be a Better Online Teacher: Flower Darby (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Anticipate Issues of Access and Inclusion. Check out the resources from the Office of Student Access and Disability Services.
With many thanks to The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning and Digital Learning and Design group at Brown University, the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Louisville, Center for Teaching Excellence at Pepperdine University, and the Baldwin Center for Teaching and Learning at Bowdoin College. We stand on the shoulders of many Centers for Teaching and Learning and Academic Technology Support Centers.