As soon as possible — before Spring Break if you can! — it’s helpful to let Spring term students know what they will need to succeed in your upcoming remote course. You can link to this Minimum Technical Requirements document in an announcement to your course, or build your own statement using the sections below.
All courses making use of online resources require:
Consistent, high-speed internet access
If you have assignments due once a week, consider whether once-a-week access is enough, or whether multiple days will be required, and state this requirement clearly as soon as possible!
For instance, a discussion board that requires both a post and replies will require either multiple hours on one day or shorter time over multiple days.
Other hardware requirements:
Requiring Use of:
Students will need:
Moodle only (assignments, forums, messages, etc.)
Modern computer (<5 years old); Modern browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari);
Moodle with multimedia (videos or recordings)
All of the above, plus: Headphones or speakers
Video conferences (Zoom)
Webcamera or smartphone
Online homework platform
Modern computer, modern browser; smartphones and tablets may be less reliable for this type of homework
Modern computer, or tablet with a keyboard, or smartphone with dictation capability
Modern computer or tablet or smartphone; modern browser
Other software requirements:
Software is less predictable because you may already have required/preferred programs. Here are some possible requirements.
Often the closest contact students have with our campus is with their instructors. That means your communication is the most likely to cut through when there’s a stack of messages in their inboxes. Please use this week to begin communicating with students about what’s happening and will happen.
The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice provides the following advice for supporting students during COVID19:
Students are humans first. The more a student feels connected to and understood by their college or university, the more likely they are to stay enrolled and engaged. The language you use to communicate about the response to COVID-19 matters—it must convey care along with urgency. Communicate the need for physical distance as opposed to social distance to emphasize that you are still a community while observing recommended prevention practices.
Send a full-class email, Moodle messages, or texts to your students as soon as possible this week. If you are sending grades through Moodle, consider adding a note in feedback about the coming changes on campus. Link to the Lane COVID-19 page and our Keep Learning page for students, where they can find updated information and assistance in making the move to remote learning.
Finally, don’t forget to take some time to take care of yourself! This teacher-made video made the rounds yesterday, and it’s a pretty good way to start your virtual day (thanks to everyone who sent it my way, except that I’ll have this song in my head forEVER):
Sometimes, you just need a quick reference or a quick answer. Even from a distance, we’ve got you covered!
Faculty can jump into our help/support session any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. today to ask about Zoom, Moodle, and just about anything else related to remote learning.
If you’re comfortable trying out technology on your own, here’s a list of quick start guides and cheat sheets for our most popular technologies. (You can bookmark this post if you think you might try any of these later).
Many Moodle options will work through a smartphone if a student has a data plan. YouTube videos and audio recordings are all accessible over a phone. Readings that are posted in Google Docs or in the Moodle page resource format well on a phone; PDF files can be a little harder to read. Online textbooks really vary in how they work on a phone screen.
Writing assignments are more difficult to complete without a keyboard, but students can use the voice typing option on Google Docs to dictate their paper on a phone. Students can also hand-write their assignments and upload a photo or PDF of their work. Microsoft Office Lens is a free app for smartphones that lets you snap a picture of any document and quickly turn it into a PDF or even a Word Document (through Optical Character Recognition).
Moodle will accept photo uploads into assignments. If students are accessing Moodle over their phone, they can attach a photo to any assignment that you’ve set up to allow file submissions, including assignments and forums. When they click “Choose file,” they’ll see the option to turn on their camera. You’ll then receive a photo of their work.
They don’t have wifi/Internet at home?
If the student has a device (computer, tablet, phone) but no internet connection:
If they have somewhere (like Lane’s campus) where they can access the Internet once a week, you can outline a plan where they can download as much media as possible while on campus and turn things in during that single-access window as well. For example, readings and videos can often be saved for later viewing. If you need help making sure your files are downloadable, let the ATC know!
Tip: If you’re offering Zoom sessions, make sure you record these and post the link for where people can view them later.
If the student will have no internet connection for most of the time:
If possible, provide class materials (textbook, handouts, syllabus) as a printed packet in advance or by mail. (Check with your department for information on whether this is a covered expense). Students can submit work by mail to your department or by telephone. An oral report or read-out of work over the phone could get someone through for a week or three until face-to-face class can reconvene.
You can also ask students to track their own work in a journal or log during our remote time/closure, and then evaluate that work with them when they return. This is not the ideal teaching situation, clearly, but for a temporary closure it might be enough to help a student stay in class.
If you pick up papers, workbooks, assignments, or other physical materials in class, make a plan for how to receive that work before a campus closure.
Need to gather up assignments, but not sure how to do it (or how to help students)? It’s never too early to try a practice run at collecting assignments virtually! Here are a few ways you can get student work without making students come to campus:
Use a Moodle assignment. These allow for uploads of multiple files, and many kinds of files, in a secure way that’s attached to your online gradebook. As a bonus, you’ll have all of your grading in one place!
Create a shared Drive folder. If it’s OK for students to see other students’ work, you can create a shared Drive folder and ask students to upload work there.
Have students share/send individual files or folders with you through Google Drive.
Receive files by email, either as attachments or as in-body text.
Ask students to send photos of their work: If you need to see hand-written work (like a workbook or drawing assignment), asking students to use their phones to capture it may be a good solution. Images can be emailed or uploaded to Moodle.
Ask students to share short videos of their work where it’s productive — all students have access to a YouTube account through their Lane Google account. They can also share videos through Drive if they don’t want to post to the open web.
Take work by phone: If you have an oral report due, consider whether a voicemail might suffice. You can collect your office voice mail from anywhere.
If you’re taking assignments by email, ask students to include your course number in the subject line.
Ask students to save files with their name and the assignment as the file name.
If you receive a file you can’t open, contact the ATC for help in converting the file, or try opening it in Google Drive.
Keep student work confidential – make sure students review the privacy settings on anything they post to YouTube.
Even though this an evolving situation, best practices and practical supports can guide our work. The ATC and SHeD can only provide support for applications that have been adopted by the college officially.
These technologies include Moodle (our learning management system), Zoom (our web conferencing solution), and to a limited extent, Google Drive, Docs, and Gmail.
I’ve seen about a dozen great tips and recommendations come through this week so far, and I’d love it if more faculty felt willing to share what they’re doing to get ready for a potential pause in teaching/need to go remote. You can comment below or post to this collaborative Google Doc with advice, links to the guidance from your professional associations, or other tips that you want to share!
Talk with colleagues near and far to get the best ideas of what’s already happening and what you can borrow for remote learning.
Do you have great tools or ideas about remote learning? Comment with them below, or e-mail us to add to tomorrow’s Crowd-Sourced Resources Post.
Individual disciplines may have different challenges in preparing for remote teaching. While an essay may be a natural fit to collect online or by email, a lab exercise can be a challenge to duplicate. Your ATC colleagues are ready to help untangle these challenges – but you may find solutions already exist even closer by!
Check in with department and discipline colleagues to find out if anyone has solutions you can try. Students, too, may be a good resource here: What technology have they used in other classes, or to supplement studying, that could be shared online with others? If there’s a video series, lab workbook, simulation, or app that could smooth the way, now’s the time to discover.
Check in with your professional organizations, as well. Many teaching-oriented groups have current special interest groups around online learning or pedagogy that might offer tips. You can also observe what technology is in use for virtual meetings.
Finally, if you regularly use online networks or social media for professional purposes, look for groups or hashtags where educators are sharing ideas, best practices, or recent good technology finds. These often pop up regionally when weather or health emergencies are incoming.
Remember to vet any software before using and certainly before suggesting a download to students. Consult the ATC if you have questions!
Need to meet with your students virtually? Zoom Video Conferencing is a powerful tool you can use to meet synchronously and asynchronously. Zoom will let you share your screen, chat, and even record your meetings to be shared in real-time or uploaded later. Use these tips and tricks to practice using Zoom today.
What devices can I use Zoom on?
Tablet (Apple iOS, Android)
Smartphone (Apple iOS, Android)
Preparing for a Zoom Meeting
Download and install the Zoom Client Software (PC/Mac) or the Zoom app (iOS/Android) in advance.
Want to get up to speed (or go from 0 to ready) with Zoom? We’ve got you covered this week:
The ATC will be offering drop-in Zoom Video Conferencing training this week. We encourage any staff or faculty member to attend the session. We will cover simple topics like how to sign in and create meetings, to advanced features like screen sharing and cloud recording. All sessions will be held in the ATC Classroom located in the Center Building, Room 219 from 12-1pm on the following days:
As soon as possible in advance of a potential remote day, clearly communicate with your students your plan for a break in classes.
Most faculty have a “back pocket” plan for when something goes wrong and class can’t meet for a day. When a college closure decision seems imminent – because of snow forecasts, wildfires, or health emergencies – there’s a chance to brace your students for the potential impact by sharing your plan. That allows students start making plans, too!
We can’t predict what might happen. State a policy that’s true for what you know and would like to do.
Example messages for students:
In the event that campus is not accessible due to weather or health emergencies, I will post all class reading materials, lecture notes, and brief supplementary videos to Moodle. If there are major deadlines during the time when classes can’t meet, I will accept papers by e-mail or through a link on Moodle. If you need to reach me during this time, I will make every effort to check my e-mail at least twice a day.
If we can’t meet for a one or two class periods, keep up with the readings! We’ll regroup when classes meet again and adjust our exam schedule as needed. If we can’t meet for more than a week, we’ll have to figure out another plan. Please sign up now to receive text or e-mail messages from me in an emergency…
Don’t over promise: If you’ve never done a video lecture before, trying to do one now may be more than you want to tackle! Instead, focus on what’s possible in the short term, and start seeking training now for the long term.
Think of what you’ve done before: Most instructors have had to cancel a class or two due to illness or personal emergency before. How did you recover?
Think of what you’ve done before, part 2: Lane’s main campus has been closed for nearly a full week twice in the past few years. What did you do to stay on track then? What could you duplicate at a moment’s notice?
Plan ahead: If you promise you’ll be in touch through e-mail, Moodle, text, or another message, test that method in advance.