Online Teaching Resources in this Time of the Coronavirus:
Below are a few articles that I thought were useful, and that have been written amidst the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Coronavirus: 14 Simple Tips for Better Online Teaching (The Conversation): http://theconversation.com/coronavirus-14-simple-tips-for-better-online-teaching-133573
- Free Resources for Schools During COVID-19 Outbreak (The Journal): https://thejournal.com/Articles/2020/03/13/Free-Resources-Ed-Tech-Companies-Step-Up-During-Coronavirus-Outbreak.aspx?Page=1
- (This article is basically just a laundry list of resources, updated continuously, but basically compiles all kinds of different software and online teaching resources that are offering free or discounted access to their products)
- Moving Your Classes Online? Here’s How to Make It Work (Wired): https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-make-online-learning-work/
- Professors need to be flexible to successfully transition to online class (The GW Hatchet): https://www.gwhatchet.com/2020/03/17/professors-need-to-be-flexible-to-successfully-transition-to-online-class/
- Teaching and Learning After COVID-19 (Inside Higher Ed): https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/learning-innovation/teaching-and-learning-after-covid-19
These are articles that include more general tips about online teaching:
- Student Motivation and Engagement in Online Courses (Science Education Resource Center): https://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/online/motivation.html
- How To Motivate Students Online: What Works And What Doesn’t (eLearning Industry): https://elearningindustry.com/motivate-students-online-works-doesnt
Finally, I also thought it might be interesting for faculty/teachers to share some resources with their students, who may struggle with this transition to online classes:
- What Makes a Successful Online Learner? (Minnesota State): https://careerwise.minnstate.edu/education/successonline.html
Please note that ITV rooms are no longer available. Other than that, you may want to use the rest of the recommendations below:
Faculty Guide to Teaching through Videoconferencing (ITV)
Videoconferencing (or video teleconferencing) is the synchronous two-way connection of two or more locations through audio and video equipment. UNM faculty are using videoconferencing as a method of extending their classrooms to students at different locations. Of all the distance teaching technologies, videoconferencing is the most similar to classroom instruction. However, there are a few key differences in the teaching and learning process that require attention for faculty and students to use videoconferencing successfully.
The purpose of this guide is to be a primer for faculty who are relatively new to using videoconferencing to teach a course.
What should I do before my first class session?
Become familiar with the equipment in the ITV classroom and learn to operate it without assistance. Even if a technical person is available for all of your class sessions, learning how to use the equipment will enable you to think of the best ways of using the available equipment.
Compile the contact information for technical people at the remote location, just in case something goes wrong. Have the technical contact provide training to your remote students so they know how to use the equipment.
Prepare a videoconferencing etiquette summary for your students so they know not to tap their pens on the table, shuffle papers, place materials on top of the microphone, as well as when they should mute their microphones and how you would like them to interact with the rest of the class.
Have a backup plan in case the technology fails. Video On Demand (VOD) recorders are utilized in all ITV classrooms, and if internet is available, a live feed can be viewed at distance sites, and students can phone in questions from the remote location so you can continue your class without much of an interruption. If the internet fails completely during your class, the students can watch the recorded class at a later time and email you any questions that they have.
What should I do before each class session?
- It is always a good idea to go to the classroom 10 minutes early. You should converse with each participating site to check their connection to the videoconference before class begins.
- Send your materials to students ahead of time by email or by posting them to your personal web space for your course. Remote students should be told to check that space before coming to class and bring a copy of the materials with them, either on a laptop computer or by printing a paper copy. (USE LEARN)
What is the best way to arrange the room?
- If you are mainly presenting information to students, then stay in a location where the camera can get the best picture of you and your materials.
- If you are planning any kind of class discussion and the seating is mobile, you may want to arrange the student seating and your position in a triangular formation so each party can see the other without much difficulty.
How can remote students be encouraged to ask questions and participate in discussion?
- Let your students know the protocol for asking questions. Do you want them to interrupt you as you’re speaking (with a question or a raised hand) or will you allow certain times for questions?
- Learn the names of your remote students and ask them discussion questions directly.
- Give the remote students seed questions to ask in class to kick off a discussion or to periodically lead the class in the discussion of a particular reading or case study.
- Let remote students mute their microphones and have their own course-related discussion. Some instructors dislike this practice, but it can help the remote student group form a support community.
- Remote students may have trouble jumping into a heated classroom discussion since body language that indicates that they want to speak is less noticeable. The audio and video signal may also be delayed by a second or two, which makes students feel out of synch with the main presentation. Go out of your way to give them the opportunity to present their views.
- Small group discussion activities with a report-out time encourage students at all locations to discuss a topic and express their thoughts. They also give students a break from passively watching a presentation.
I have three (or more) locations joining class through videoconferencing. How do I moderate the conversation?
- Before beginning a discussion, start with some quick ground rules such as “Let’s start the conversation with the Farmington group, and then we’ll move to Santa Fe, Taos and Valencia. As questions come up, write them down so you’re prepared for your turn.” This order is easy to remember since it is alphabetical by location.
How do I deal with remote students who say that they feel isolated from the rest of the class?
- First and foremost, make sure you can see the videoconferencing display. Perform visual checks to make sure that the remote students are present and paying attention.
- Use e-mail or web conferencing (Zoom, Skype, Google, Collaborate) to communicate with your remote students so they have an opportunity to access you outside of class (in lieu of office hours).
- If you want to encourage student-student collaboration, create a contact list for each location so students learn the names of everyone regardless of their location. This can be facilitated in Blackboard Learn
- If possible, travel to the remote locations during the course and teach from that location. The first time should be close to the beginning of the course and give students a chance to meet with you in person and discuss any concerns they have. Other visits should be centered on critical points in the course, such as exam preparation or project reviews.
How do I manage teams in a class with remote students?
- If you have enough students at each location, then form teams based on location. This enables all teams to meet with each other in person.
- If you have several teams with people who are all in one location and one or two teams who mix local and remote students or different remote locations, then you may have to give the mixed team extra time to complete their assignment (depending on its complexity) to account for the additional complications of coordinating group activities at a distance. Make sure this is understood up front and ask for volunteers to participate on the mixed team(s).
What do I do if I notice an “us versus them” attitude forming among students at different locations?
- This can happen when a group of remote students forms a cohesive unit. They may have their own discussions and come to a consensus that is different from other groups of students. This is where small group discussions can play a part to build consensus between all locations if that’s what you want.
- Try using the discussion tools in LEARN to have each location or student team post summaries of their discussions. This gives students open-ended time to continue the discussion and provide supporting evidence.
- The “us versus them” attitude can be used constructively as the basis for healthy competition. Have each location focus on a particular aspect of a controversial topic and then hold an inter-location debate.
What do I do when there is only one student enrolled at a remote location?
- In this case, the student often feels like an intruder and can fall into a passive observation role. Instead, treat the student like a special guest. Greet him or her at the beginning of every class, stay in contact through e-mail, and arrange special times when he or she can call you in place of a physical visit during your office hours.
- You may also want to assign a local student as a study partner to help keep the remote student engaged and connected to the rest of the class.
What do I do when remote students need to present to the rest of the class?
- Contact the ITV Techs to let them know you are having students present from distant locations, some bridge settings may need to be changed. You can tell your operator and email in advance to ITV@unm.edu.
- Make sure students understand how to use the equipment at their location.
- Students should do the same kind of materials preparation that you have done, such as sending handouts and presentations to all locations ahead of time. A modified version of this guide or a preparation checklist will be helpful.
- Encourage local students to ask questions.
- Clip the microphone approximately eight (8) inches below chin, centered. Front button shirts/blouses or jackets/blazers work best, and a waistband or belt to attach the wireless microphone transmitter.
- Avoid clothing with polka dots, small checks, plaids, thin stripes and a lot of red. Jewelry should be kept simple and not too flashy. Large necklaces may need to be removed.
- AVOID writing on the whiteboard – Use the document camera provided instead.
- PowerPointUse the 7 / 7 PowerPoint Rule. Title line, plus 7 lines of text with 7 words per line, at most.
- The same layout rules apply as those used for documents. Large, bold fonts work best and avoid using extreme edges of page. Avoid serif, fancy and script fonts.
- Example: 28 pt. 36 pt. 48 pt.
- For both PowerPoints and the Document Camera: Black text on a light pastel background works best. Light or white text on a dark background may also be used.
- Keep backgrounds simple, and a sharp color contrast between background and text. For example don’t put yellow text on a green background. The higher the contrast between the text and the background, the better.
- Special effects should be kept to a minimum.
- Your last slide should be blank for a smooth transition from the computer.
- Access to your PP slides should be made available to your remote site students in advance so it can be printed if needed. A printed set (3 slides to a page is OK) should be posted to the Blackboard Learn site.
- Multiple presenters should use the same computer; this reduces set up and transition time.
- Don’t assume anything: Have your materials prepared according to the resources that are available in the room you will be using. Be prepared for any technical problems. Have a CD, memory stick or paper back-up of power point slides. Arrive early to set up and start on time.
- Your overall presentation: If you are new to ITV teaching, we advise that you schedule a practice in the room you will be using to familiarize yourself with the technology. Arrange to have an audience and request a recording of the practice. This allows you to become comfortable in your surroundings and allows you to review the presentation and make adjustments. For example, you may need to adjust the pace of your presentation, or enlarge the size of the text on the board, document camera, or PowerPoint.
Tips To Enhance Atmosphere And Interaction
- Break the lesson into segments
- Build in time slots for interaction
- Delegate part of the presentation to others
- Ask learners questions and remind them to ask the teacher questions
- Repeat the questions asked by students in the classroom, as they may not be clearly heard by the students at the distance sites.
- As often as possible come back to the individual who posed a question to ensure that they are satisfied with the answer
- Consider having discussion sessions as well as question answer sessions
- Allow for the learners to think about a topic, consider having a discussion session at the beginning of the next live session to recap on the topic of the last live session
Other Websites and references: