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Center for Excellence in Spires Teaching and Learning: Teaching Classes Remotely

University of Saint Mary's site for teaching and learning resources and professional development opportunities

3 Options for Shifting Your classes Temporarily Online/Remotely

Three Options for Shifting Your Classes Temporarily Online

Option 1: Run Your Class Live With Zoom

This option works especially well for small discussion-based classes, though it’s also effective for large lectures, especially if you have a moderator. 

 

The Tech Side: 

Using Zoom and how to sign up for a free version.

 

Pedagogical Recommendations

  • Use slides and screen sharing within Zoom to make sure discussion questions are visible to students who may have a slow Internet connection or who may struggle to hear the audio for the initial question. (Look for “Share Screen” at the bottom of your Zoom call.)
    • On your first slide, display an agenda at the start of the class session so that students know what to expect of the shared time together.
  • Use the chat (bottom of your screen). See In-Meeting Chat.
    • Moderate discussion, i.e., “call on” a student with a comment to speak, to help them break into the conversation. 
    • It may be worthwhile to ask a student (or two) to take on special roles as “chat monitors” to voice if there are questions that arise that the instructor has missed.
    • You might use the chat to troubleshoot technical problems. For example, if a student is having trouble connecting via audio or video, the chat might be a space for you as the instructor or for fellow students to work together to problem-solve. This may, again, be an opportunity to assign a student to a special role, especially if you have students eager to help on the technical aspect of things. 
  • Use Zoom Breakout Rooms to help students talk in smaller groups (just as they would do break-out groups in a larger class environment). See Managing Video Breakout Rooms
  • Rethink your classroom activities to make the class more interactive even if Zoom students don’t have ideal connections and aren’t able to hear and see everything perfectly.
    • Have students write and comment together on a shared Google Doc. 
    • Try using Poll Everywhere or Google Forms to collect student responses, and then share results with both in-person and online students. 
  • Consider making discussion questions available in advance in Espire, etc. so that students can access the questions if screen sharing does not work. If sharing slides in advance to Espire, share as PDFs, as students will be able to access the material on their phones. 

 

A Few Troubleshooting Tips: 

  • If your microphone is not working, use the phone number listed in the Zoom invitation when you set up a Zoom call. You can use your phone as the microphone and audio source for your call rather than your computer’s built-in microphone if necessary. 
  • If your Internet connection is slow or lagging, consider temporarily turning off your video stream and only maintaining the audio stream. Sometimes, running the web camera on your computer will use up the Internet’s bandwidth in a way that might make communication challenging. Turning off the video should improve communication quality and consistency. 
  • If you have earbuds or a headphone set, wear them! Wearing earbuds or headphones will reduce the amount of noise that your computer will pick up during your quality, which will make it easier for your students to hear you. Similarly, you may want to advise your students to wear earbuds or headphones during the call. 
  • Advise students to mute their microphones if they are not speaking and unmute the microphones when they wish to speak. Students may be joining Zoom calls from all kinds of different locations, many of which may create background noise that could be distracting. Encourage students to mute themselves if they’re not speaking to minimize unnecessary or distracting background noise. Using the “raise hand” feature or simply seeing the microphone unmuted will give the group a visual cue for when a student wishes to speak. 
  • Check the “chat” space for student questions and contributions. Some students may not have working microphones and, therefore, may be unable to contribute via voice. The chat room is a good place for students to contribute, ask questions, and be involved.
  • Check the Zoom Help Center 

 

Accessibility Suggestions: 

  • Automatic live captioning is not available in Zoom (automatic captions are visible if you record a Zoom session). You may wish to use Google Slides and enable the live captioning feature within Google Slides. If you share your screen using Google Slides, your voice will be captured and live captions will appear. See Present Slides with Captions (via Google Drive support) for more information.

For students who are blind or have low visibility, narrate the material that you’re displaying visually on the screen. Just as you might read materials aloud in class, read screen material that you share on-screen just in case students are not able to see essential text.

 

Option 2: Pre-Record Your Lectures

If you are not comfortable presenting live, another good option is to pre-record any lecture material and upload it to Espire. We recommend that you pre-record lectures using Zoom, as this will generate automatic closed-captions that are needed for accessibility reasons. Also Screencast -o-matic is a free video capture tool.

 

 

Basically, you’ll want to open up your Powerpoint or slides, make sure you’re recording to the cloud, and then use Zoom’s “Share Screen” tool. 

 

Pedagogical Recommendations

  • Keep videos short and lively. It is often harder to focus on a video than on a person!
  • Test your microphone to make sure that you have good sound quality. Consider using a headset with an external microphone to capture better audio.
  • Consider ADA compliance. Automatic closed-captioning is not perfect. Speak clearly and not too quickly to make the content as accurate as possible. If using a tool other than Zoom for recording your lecture, consider uploading your videos to YouTube to take advantage of their automatic (though not perfect) closed-captioning. 
  • Integrate interaction with the lecture material. You might consider setting up a discussion board with some specific questions, using a quiz, or setting up a chat session for a text-based live discussion. 

Scroll down for information on Adjusting assignments for the online format, eSpire 101 for Faculty and Best Practices when using Zoom

Going Online in A Hurry

Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start

No. 1: Begin by going over your course assignments for the coming weeks. Are they accessible online, so that students can find the instructions and materials that they need? Is it clear how students will be turning in their work? Have deadlines changed, and are all of those deadlines prominently posted?

No. 2: How will you give feedback on their progress? Consider how students will be able to practice the key skills and objectives you want them to get out of the course — things they would normally do in class. How will you give them opportunities for practice and feedback, for both small-stakes and high-stakes assignments? Undoubtedly those opportunities will be different from what they were before you moved the class online. Just be sure that it’s very clear how students can access those opportunities.

And if you don’t spend much class time having students practice and get feedback, now is a good time to increase that aspect of your course — given that you won’t be presenting content in person. For example:

  • If students would have been developing their skills in analyzing and synthesizing assigned readings via in-class discussion, perhaps they could do that online using collaborative annotation of the text. (Perusall is one such tool to do that.)
  • Or, if you’d normally have students practice by attempting to answer questions in an interactive in-person lecture, present a version of those questions in online discussion forums or quizzes, and offer feedback on their responses.

No. 3: Then, move on to the in-class experience. What do you normally use your in-class time for? Try to define what you do in class at a higher, more goal-oriented level (e.g., presentation of content, checking for understanding, collaborative project work — instead of just saying "lecture," "quiz," "discussion"). If you keep those goals in mind, you will have a better idea of how to achieve them online, as well as what aspects of the in-class experience you ought to focus on simulating.

In particular, this mini-reflection should help you decide whether to go with a synchronous means of engagement (e.g., a real-time Zoom meeting), an asynchronous one (e.g., VoiceThread decks or narrated videos), or some combination of the two.  Also, Microsoft video too lhttps://support.office.com/en-us/article/video-record-presentations-2570dff5-f81c-40bc-b404-e04e95ffab33

No. 4: Decide what you’re going to do about any high-stakes assessments, particularly exams. There are no easy answers here, especially if you planned to have a good chunk of a student’s grade hinge on what would have been a proctored, in-person test. Perhaps you could take another route to summative assessment for the course, such as replacing a big supervised test with some type of project that is easier to personalize and less dependent on proctoring.

No. 5: Consider the course materials. In all likelihood, your readings and other materials exist in digital form, and you may have posted them already. But you’ll need to double-check that any readings, videos, problem sets, quizzes, and the like are accessible, along with key documents such as the course syllabus and calendar.

No. 6: Once you’ve dealt with those things, the name of the game is communication. In the face of all this uncertainty, you need to explain — as clearly as you can and in a variety of places — what students can expect about the course in the next few weeks. Be sure to cover what it is that students are responsible for doing, how they can find the things they need to meet those responsibilities, and what they should do first. Make sure the lines of communication are two-way, as well. When in doubt, offer more ways to get in touch with you (text, messaging app, email, video call), not fewer.

 

eSpire 101 for Faculty

Espire 101 /  Teaching Your Course Remotely

 

Teaching during times of potential disruption requires creative and flexible thinking about how instructors can support students in achieving essential core course learning objectives. This document offers suggestions for instructors looking to continue offering a student-centered learning experience in a remote or online learning environment.

 

While the process will no doubt feel unfamiliar and at times possibly frustrating, try as much as possible to be patient. There will always be hiccups, but times of disruption are, by their nature, disruptive, and everyone expects that. Be willing to switch tactics if something isn’t working. Above all, stay focused on making sure the students are comfortable, and keep a close eye on the course learning goals--while you might not be able to teach something exactly the way you imagined, as long as you’re still meeting the learning goals of the course.

 

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous?

There are two options for instructors to facilitate class sessions remotely: 

  1. Synchronous: instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students.
  2. Asynchronous: instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time.

Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. There are many advantages and disadvantages to asynchronous and synchronous teaching options. 

 

Advantages of Synchronous Teaching

  1. Immediate personal engagement between students and instructors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation
  2. More responsive exchanges between students and instructors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding

 

Disadvantages of Synchronous Teaching

  1. More challenging to schedule shared times for all students and instructors
  2. Some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or powerful Wi-Fi networks accessible 

 

Advantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  1. Higher levels of temporal flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible.  
  2. Increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material. 

 

Disadvantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  1. Students may feel less personally exchanged and less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and instructors. 
  2. Course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without the real-time interaction.

 

 

Identifying Key Tools and Functions within Espire

  • Assignments: Instructors can create space for students to upload submissions, from informal reflections to formal written assignments and projects. Instructors can select the grading approach within the assignment. Assignments are best for instructors who wish for the students’ work to only be viewed and assessed by the instructor.
  • Announcements: Instructors can send mass e-mails or messages to the whole class community via the Announcements tool. The benefit to using Announcements over e-mail is that instructors do not need to collect individual student e-mail addresses.
  • Big Blue Button: The whole class, instructors and students alike, can engage in a “real time” text-based, instant messaging conversation. Messages received remain archived and can be read outside of synchronous time too. This can be a nice way for instructors and students to communicate nimbly without needing to use voice-based chat and without needing to use any outside apps or resources.
  • Discussions: Instructors can create threaded, written discussion forums for instructors to engage in written (or audio/video) dialogue with each other and respond to written prompts.

Here is a link to Espire Tutorials:

Espire Faculty Guide

Jenzabar Faculty Guide YouTube playlist

Best Practices when using Zoom

Best Practice for Instructors When Using Zoom

 

 The challenge is to make sure that students joining by Zoom feel like full participants in the class. Zoom participants often struggle with poor sound quality and a sense of disconnection.

 

  • Position your computer so that students can see and hear as well as possible. If necessary, repeat student points for the Zoom crowd, if only you are close enough to be heard. You might consider bringing or borrowing a microphone to make it easier for students to hear. 
  • Solicit input from Zoom participants, as Zoom students may have a harder time breaking into the conversation. 
  • Assign a student to moderate the Zoom chat and to speak up for a Zoom participant with a question or a raised hand. 
  • Share handouts and slides in advance to make sure Zoom participants can look at them. These handouts and slides could be shared via links in the Zoom chat room or by directing the student(s) to the appropriate place in Canvas where the materials may be available. 
  • Rethink your classroom activities to make the class more interactive even if Zoom students don’t have ideal connections and aren’t able to hear and see everything perfectly.
    • Have students write and comment together on a shared Google Doc. 
    • Try using Poll Everywhere or Google Forms to collect student responses, and then share results with both in-person and online students. 
    • If doing group work, consider an alternative activity for Zoom students. If multiple students are on Zoom, put them in a group together to discuss.