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Instructional Continuity

Instructional Continuity

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Make an appointment to meet with an instructional designer via Zoom

View recordings of past workshops

View recordings of 2020 Tech Talks on virtual teaching

In the expandable sections below are a collection of tips and resources helpful for faculty preparing to teach virtually. 

Support for these options is available through ATI. To schedule an appointment, click on on of the two "Make an appointment" links above, email support@csusb.edu or blackboard@csusb.edu, or submit a support ticket on the Technology Support Center page

Communicate with students

Communicate with students

Keeping in touch with students is vital during any changes to your class(es)—whether a planned absence on your part, or because of a crisis impacting all or part of campus. 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 dealing with individual questions.

Keep these principles in mind:

  • Communicate early and often: Let students know about changes or disruptions 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. Don't swamp them with email, but consider matching the frequency of your messages with that of changes in class activities and/or updates to the broader crisis at hand (for example, the campus closure is extended for two more days; what will students need to know related to your course?).

  • Set expectations: Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often. Tell students both how often you expect them to check their email, and how quickly they can expect your response. 

  • Manage your communications load: You will likely receive some individual requests for information that could be useful to all your students, so consider 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. Also, consider creating an information page in Blackboard, and then encourage students to check there first for answers before emailing you.

  • Suggested language for all Spring 2020 syllabi: "To help prevent or limit outbreaks of viruses and other illnesses, I encourage you to stay at home if you have any flu-like symptoms instead of coming to campus. If you think you may have the flu, PLEASE STAY HOME. You will NOT need to bring a doctor's note to excuse your absence. You will NOT lose attendance/participation grades and WILL be able to make up any in-class assignments, exams, or other work that you miss by staying at home, as long as you or someone else on your behalf emails or telephones me BEFORE the missed class." 

Foster communication and collaboration among students

Foster communication and collaboration among students

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.

Consider these suggestions when planning activities:

  • 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 Blackboard Discussions allows students to participate on their own schedules. In addition, bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are far lower than for live video tools.
  • Link to clear goals and outcomes: Make sure there are clear purposes and outcomes for any student-to-student interaction. How does this activity help them meet course outcomes or prepare for other assignments?
  • Build in simple accountability: Find ways to make sure students are accountable for the work they do in any online discussions or collaborations. Assigning points for online discussion posts can be tedious, so some instructors ask for reflective statements where students detail their contributions and reflect on what they learned from the conversation.
  • Balance newness and need: As with any changed activities, you will need to balance the needs and benefits of online collaboration with the additional effort such collaboration will require on everyone else's part. Learning new technologies and procedures might be counterproductive, particularly in the short term, unless there is clear benefit.
Regarding assignments

Regarding assignments

Collecting assignments during a campus closure is fairly straightforward, since many instructors already collect work electronically. The main challenge during a campus disruption is whether students have access to computers, as anyone needing a campus computer lab may be unable to access necessary technologies. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Require only common software: Microsoft Office 365 (including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) is available free to students via the CSUSB Student Software page. However, some students may not have access to a computer on which to load software; be ready with a backup plan for such students.
  • Avoid emailed attachments: It may be easy to collect assignments in small classes via email, but larger classes might swamp your email inbox. Consider using Blackboard instead. Balance what is simplest for students with what is easiest for you to manage.
  • State expectations, but be ready to allow extensions: In the case of a campus closure or other crisis, some students will undoubtedly have difficulties meeting deadlines. Make expectations clear, but be ready to provide more flexibility than you normally would in your class.
  • 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.

 

 

Use Blackboard as your central communication site

Use Blackboard as your central communication site

Blackboard is CSUSB’s learning management system, and Academic Technologies & Innovation automatically creates a Blackboard site for every class taught at CSUSB. Blackboard can be used for a variety of course activities and communication, such as announcements, assignments, discussions, content delivery, media management, group collaborations, and much more. 

Begin creating your Blackboard course continuity materials
1. Visit the CSUSB home page
2. Select myCoyote, at the top of the page, and login using your CSUSB credentials
3. Click on the Blackboard icon and find your course under “My Courses” 

Introductory material for using Blackboard is available in the Blackboard Instructor Manual and Blackboard Students Manual with additional info available in Blackboard under the Blackboard Help tab.

Share messages and documents with your students

Share messages and documents with your students

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. In a pinch, providing some new readings and related assignments may be your best bet for keeping the intellectual momentum of the course moving.

Considerations when posting new course materials:

  • Make sure students know when new material is posted: If you post new materials on Blackboard, be sure to let students know what you posted and where. You might even ask that they change their Blackboard notification preferences to alert them when new materials are posted. Refer them to the Blackboard Notifications help page
  • Keep things phone friendly: In a crisis, many students may only have a phone available, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats, PDFs being the most common. Consider saving other files (for example, PowerPoint presentations) to PDFs, which are easier to read on phones and tablets, and keep the file size small. It is fairly easy to reduce the size of PDF files using Adobe Acrobat, and there are online tools that do the same thing (for example, search Google for "PDF file size"). Videos take lots of bandwidth, so only require them if you are confident students will have access to them during a crisis.
  • The table below lists some useful options for announcements, messages, and sharing files:
Share learning materials with students
  Option How to get started

a.

Deliver a message using the Announcements tool within your learning management system.

Make an announcement in Blackboard: 

How to add an announcement

b. Send internal messages to your students within Blackboard

You can send messages to your students within Blackboard in case email does not work: 

How to send Bb messages

c. Organize a large number of files for student reference using Files in Blackboard.

You can manage multiple files within Blackboard to organize content for students: 

How to use Files in Blackboard

d. Send email to every student on your roster via the CSUSB’s Faculty Center in PeopleSoft

You can send emails to your students using the CSUSB Faculty Center Roster function: 

Login to MyCoyote, go to Roster, at the bottom of the page you can select "Notify All Students." 

e. Send email to students through Blackboard

You can send email to students through Blackboard:

How to send email to students from Blackboard

f. Send large files to one or more recipients using CSUSB Google Drive.

Login to CSUSB Google Drive through MyCoyote:

Learn about CSUSB Google Drive

g. Send larger files using FileSender

Faculty/Staff at CSUSB can send large files to students through FileSender:

How to send large files with FileSender

Accessibility

Accessibility

The following suggestions will help ensure that your course content is accessible to all students:

  • Activate Blackboard Ally in the course. This will heighten faculty awareness of accessibility issues of uploaded content and will give step-by-step remediation guidance of issues with the greatest impact to students. Ally will allow students to download content in an alternate format, making for a more flexible, UDL-oriented learning environment. Please note that content that is more accessible will have better-quality alternate formats generated by Ally. To activate Ally, contact Accessible Technology Services (ATS).   
  • Ensure that uploaded PDFs are clean, without handwritten notes or other annotations, and are not saved as image-only. ATS can help with accessible document creation and remediation.
  • If working with the instructional design team, request that the CSUSB Accessibility and Privacy Blackboard module be added to your course. This contains resources for students to receive additional accessibility support, both on-campus and through course tools.
  • The Assistive Technology Center can provide resource and downloads for students and faculty who require assistive software or hardware.
  • Services to Students with Disabilities is actively engaging in planning for students with documented accommodations. Confer with SSD to ensure students with accommodations have equal access to course content.

Captioning  

Captioning services are provided through Accessible Technology Services at no cost. Captions are essential for some students, highly beneficial for others, and preferred by most. The typical turnaround time for captions is approximately 3 business days.

  • Instructor-created multimedia content and recordings of Zoom sessions can be sent to ATS by emailing accessibility@csusb.edu for captioning and/or transcripts. Please note that quality captions are largely dependent on good sound quality.
  • When possible, select supplemental instructional materials that are already captioned. When searching for videos in YouTube, note that those with proper captions have a “CC” symbol underneath their description. Automatically generated captions are not sufficient for equal access.
  • For live captioning services for students with related accommodations, please contact ssd@csusb.edu so services can be scheduled in advanced.
Pre-record lecture presentations and post to YouTube and Blackboard

Pre-record lecture presentations and post to YouTube and Blackboard 

Emergency tool kit - Pre-recorded presentations for students
1. Have an emergency plan for online course delivery. If your course has a lab or experiential component, have a backup plan for your lab also
2. Keep accessibility in mind: Services to students with Disabilities (SSD) and CSUSB Accessible Technology Services
3. Have an updated computer with a good internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone (it will be part of any webcam or headset, or you can use a stand-alone mic if you're recording audio only, not video). 
4. Use the CSUSB Faculty & Staff Software Download Page (for Camtasia, Adobe Creative Cloud, Google Docs, and other valuable teaching tools): Free downloads of software useful for teaching

 

How to record your video lectures (Select the links below for tutorials on how to use each tool) 
Asynchronous Tips

Create engagement in your videos by using: PlayPosit: 

Optimizing your video lectures (if possible):

  • Create an outline of the content
  • Organize by topic
  • Cover key information
  • Write a script
  • Keep it short
  • Practice your delivery
  • Use a mic
  • Use a quiet location
  • Use even, soft lighting on your face
  • Your face should be as bright or brighter than the background
  • Arrange the background in your Webcam frame

Additional tips for optimizing your live meetings: 

  • In Zoom settings, click "Mute Participants" upon entry into the meeting (as the host of the meeting you have that control)  
  • Instructors can create Breakout Rooms for group discussions or for students to work collaboratively 

Accompanying materials and tools that can enhance your video lectures:

  • Use PlayPosit to add questions to your video and engage your students while checking for student understanding of the content 
  • Upload documents to Blackboard that support the content of your lecture (PDF files, Word documents, websites additional videos, and activities that immerse the student in the learning experience) 

 

Sharing your video with your students

  The easiest way to present a video to students after recording it is to upload it to your YouTube account (it can remain private) and then post the link to Blackboard:

 

Use Zoom for live online class meetings and office hours

Use Zoom for live online class meetings and office hours 

While asynchronous communication may present fewer access challenges for both students and faculty, Zoom offers a synchronous (live) option for class meetings and office hours. Zoom is an easy-to-use videoconferencing app available free to all faculty and students via MyCoyote>Collaborate>Zoom. 

Enable online viewing and remote participation
  Option How to get started
a.

Use Zoom to meet online from your computer.

Options include:

  • video conferencing,
  • screen sharing,
  • recording,
  • polling, and
  • live streaming.

This is adaptable from individual online office hours through full class sessions. 

 

Zoom tips:

  • In Zoom settings, Mute Participants upon entry into the meeting. As the host of the meeting instructors are able to mute and unmute participants  

  • Instructors can create Breakout Rooms for group discussions or for students to work collaboratively 

Login to Zoom at CSUSB MyCoyote>Collaborate to schedule a meeting and generate a meeting invitation to send to your students.

Or you can activate a zoom link directly from your blackboard course. 

Guides:

b. Use Microsoft Teams as an alternative to Zoom Microsoft Teams for Education guide
Create online assessments

Create online assessments 

Assess students remotely
     
a. Design a Blackboard quiz or exam with options to set availability, dates, and point values How to create tests in Blackboard
 
b. Use Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor to discourage academic dishonesty Document; video
CSUSB instructional continuity resources

For more resources and ideas, please see the documents CSUSB Instructional Continuity Resources and the Instructional Continuity Planning Form.

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ATI Faculty Workshops in Alternate Teaching Modalities
Dates, Streaming and Recorded Options