A variety of circumstances might require you to temporarily deliver your class online with minimal notice, such as a viral or other infectious disease outbreak, a family emergency requiring your presence elsewhere, or a natural disaster.
In the event that the CSUSB San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses are closed, and/or to accommodate students who are unable to attend class in person for an extended period of time, this guide, structured in drop-down sections below, provides you suggested actions to take quickly when making the shift from teaching in a classroom to teaching anywhere.
Support for these options is available through ATI, PL 002. To schedule an appointment, call (909) 537-7439 or submit a support ticket on the Technology Support Center page.
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
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.
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,
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.
|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
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:
|Option||How to get started|
|Deliver a message using the Announcements tool within your learning management system.||
Make an announcement in Blackboard:
|b.||Send internal messages to your students within Blackboard||
You can send messages to your students within Blackboard in case email does not work:
|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:
|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:
|f.||Send large files to one or more recipients using CSUSB Google Drive.||
Login to CSUSB Google Drive through MyCoyote:
|g.||Send larger files using FileSender||
Faculty/Staff at CSUSB can send large files to students through FileSender:
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.
- Ensure that uploaded PDFs are clean, without handwritten notes or other annotations, and are not saved as image-only.
- Send instructor-created multimedia content to firstname.lastname@example.org for captioning and/or transcripts. Captions are essential for some students, highly beneficial for others, and preferred by most.
- 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.
- 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.
Pre-record lecture presentations and post to YouTube and Blackboard
|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|
Create engagement in your videos by using: PlayPosit:
Optimizing your video lectures (if possible):
Additional tips for optimizing your live meetings:
Accompanying materials and tools that can enhance your video lectures:
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:
- How to create a YouTube channel using MyCoyote and upload your video
- How to create a YouTube account using a Google account
- How to upload a video to your YouTube Channel
- How to share the video with your students
- How to add the video in Blackboard
- How to use the new YouTube Studio
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.
|Option||How to get started|
Use Zoom to meet online from your computer.
This is adaptable from individual online office hours through full class sessions.
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.
|b.||Use Microsoft Teams as an alternative to Zoom||Microsoft Teams for Education guide|
- Bb Hints: Tips and Tricks for Blackboard LMS (Dr. Terri Nelson)
- Teaching in Strange Times (Dr. Amy Young and Dr. Terri Nelson)
- Indiana University's "Keep Teaching"
- "Rapid Course Conversion into an Online Modality: A Focus On Pedagogy" (Jace Hargis)
- "Remote Teaching Resources for Business Continuity" (List continuity pages of >100 colleges and universities)
- The Online Learning Consortium's Continuity Planning and Emergency Preparedness resource page