Teaching classes remotely during a campus-wide closure event
A variety of circumstances can lead to physical campus closure. Especially during an extended closure, instruction will need to continue. Follow these suggestions to continue teaching remotely during these closure events.
If events require you to move your teaching online, remember that you and your students are most important, not the tools and technology. You'll have issues and they'll have issues but you can work together to resolve them if you communicate. So that leads to what is most important to focus on in this process:
- Communicate - This is key. Establish a good communication strategy from the start. Be honest about what is working and what isn't.
- Be flexible - Problems will come up. Students will have access issues. Life will get in the way. If something is truly not working, can you let it go and try something else?
- Decide what is essential - Review your syllabus and decide what you can and can't cover under the circumstances. Look at the things that are most important and decide if they need to be modified to fit remote instruction.
- Plan ahead how you will communicate with students during closures. Tell students early in the semester that they should expect emails, Meet or Zoom invites, and other updates online.
- We suggest using your Moodle class as a central location for all course updates. Recorded lecture links can be placed here. You can even use the Announcements forum to send out class communications.
- If you have time before the closure event, settle on a comfortable workflow for recording and uploading instructional videos. Decide how you will record, where you will host them online (Youtube? Google Drive?), and how you will share them (links in a Moodle class? emailed links?)
- As the switch to online happens, implement your Remote Instruction: Day One Strategies. To help you get started, you'll find some boilerplate messages in that article that to inspire those that you send out to your students.
Tools to Use
If time allows prior to the closure, you can pre-record instructional videos and place resources for your students online. We recommend that you use the tools that you are most comfortable with, but here are some options:
- Record in the one-button studio. Use this for videos <20 minutes. Longer lectures can be recorded in multiple parts. Flash drive required.
- Record using a free Zoom account. Free accounts allow for recording a file to your computer for later sharing. For creating your account and getting started, see the link in Live Remote Instruction below. Webcam and mic required. (Most webcams have a built-in mic.)
- There are many programs that let you record the screen with audio and video so you can record instructional content. Look for services like screencast-o-matic and screencastify (Chrome browser only) that make the process simple and allow a core sub-set of features in a free version. Paid versions of both screencast-o-matic and screencastify are relatively inexpensive. As with Zoom, this results in a video file you can upload and share. Webcam and mic required.
- You can also record audio or video directly into Moodle using Moodle's built-in text editor. This is great for answering questions, recording feedback, and sending announcements that also add your personal presence to the online environment. Webcam and mic required.
- If you aren't already using it, activate your Moodle course shell so students can have access. Place resources and activities in your course shell to replace what students will miss from not being in class.
- With campuses closed, students will not be able to access the tutoring center. Suggest students try online tutoring via eTutoring instead. Instructions for students on using eTutoring are in the Tutoring section of the student knowledge base.
- Research projects can be arranged around the databases available online via the library. The link is on the library's web page and in Moodle. The current password for off-campus database access is posted in Moodle.
Campus Distance Learning Resources
- The distance learning department has a limited set of Zoom professional account licenses. These licenses allow instructors to save their Zoom recordings online and to have captions automatically generated. In addition, with a pro account you can schedule Zoom sessions from inside your Moodle classroom. Talk to the distance learning department about the availability of pro accounts.
- The distance learning department has a limited set of webcams available to instructors to borrow in the event of a campus-wide closure. Talk to distance learning about scheduling the use of these webcams.
- In addition to making recordings, you can use Zoom to host live classes. The knowledge base document Setting Up Class Sessions with a Free Zoom Account shows how to set up a live, synchronous classroom in Zoom.
- Another online meeting application, Google Meet, is built into your college Google account. Meet allows you to schedule your sessions with students by creating an event in your college Google calendar and inviting students to that event. Meet generates live closed captions during sessions. It does not have an option for recording.
- Both Zoom and Meet allow participants to connect to audio via a phone number. This allows students with limited technology or bandwidth at home to still be able to connect to your live sessions. Build your online sessions with these students in mind.
Google has made Meet's recording capability free to everyone until July 1st, 2020. Until then, you can record your sessions in Meet and have them automatically saved to your Google Drive account for easy sharing with students.
Don't forget that some students may have accessibility issues! Here are some basic considerations and tips:
- Zoom free accounts do not automatically generate live captions. Upload your recordings to Youtube to have captions generated automatically.
- Try to build your documents with accessibility in mind. Microsoft Word has a built in accessibility checker to fix some issues.
- Moodle is built to be accessible and to work with screen readers. In addition, Shawnee has the ReadSpeaker plugin installed in Moodle. ReadSpeaker will read any text visible on our Moodle site. Students can also use ReadSpeaker's DocReader to read any documents you've posted in Moodle. DocReader works with Microsoft Office, .rtf, and .pdf documents.
Other Teaching Resources
- The Online Learning Consortium's page for Moving Teaching Online — OLC Continuity Planning and Emergency Preparedness is excellent. They've collected and organized a full set of high-quality web resources from academics and academic institutions. Some of their resource categories for faculty include:
- Planning instruction
- Universal Design
- Selecting Technology
- Student Engagement
NISOD's Teaching Online Toolkit has links to resources for its member institutions as well as a collection of instructional resources from around the web.
- Contact the Teaching and Learning Center for access to NISOD's subscription-only resources