Category Archives: Get Ready Now

Have a “When you can reach me” policy

One critical factor in building a sustainable online course is deciding how and when to set limits on your own work and interaction time with the course. In-person classes have the advantage of a clear end time: You walk out of the classroom.

This fall, for many of us, the classroom will go with us wherever we are, in our pockets on the internet-connected smartphones we may be carrying around. At the furthest, class is but a few doors down in most households.

That can be exhausting. If you’re feeling a need to reply to student email in the middle of the night (or dinner, or during TV breaks), consider whether you’re able to provide thoughtful and quality help in these situations. Then think about whether you can sustain the always-on work mode for the rest of the year.

Ready to set some limits now? Try this:

  1. Communicate clearly from the start of your class when you will be available.
    • This includes office hours (synchronous video? phone?), class times, and other by-appointment times, and the hours when you’re available by email or other contact methods (if you provide a texting number or use an app).
  2. Stick to those times.
    • If you can’t stop yourself from replying to email at 2 a.m., consider using the Schedule Send feature in Gmail to make that message appear within your scheduled work hours.
  3. Explain why you have these policies, and what students should do if an issue comes up when you’re not available.
    • Technical problems can be referred to the Student Help Desk (SHeD).
    • Tutoring and academic questions can go to Academic Tutoring Services, where they can find appointments at many hours of the day.
    • I offer automatic extensions on deadlines if students contact me in advance of a due date. If their printer explodes or their understanding of citation evaporates between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, they can ask for an extension, know that they’ll have one, set up an appointment with me, and be ready to work as soon as I’m back on Monday.
  4. Don’t feel bad about being less than always-on.
    • Taking time off is not a disservice to your students. It is vital to your own survival.
    • Being clear about how soon you’ll respond lets students know that they aren’t screaming into the void, which can reduce some anxiety.

Other things to consider (not recommendations, just ideas):

  • Add an autoreply message when you’re not available to remind students (and colleagues) that you’ll get back to them at X time, and also to show them their message has been received.
  • Poll students to find out when they plan to complete their work, and schedule your available time to match up with these hours.

Do you have a way of dividing work and non-work time that’s, um, worked for you? Let us know in the comments, or join us at an upcoming Friday morning Coffee Check-In with Colleagues to talk about it.

Zoom is the new classroom

Adorable Guide Dogs Host Zoom Call
Zoom is the new dog park.

If we like it or not, Zoom and other online web conferencing (Google Meet) is here to stay and the “easy” days of normal may never be “normal” again. How do you replicate what we did in the classroom in zoom? A: You can’t.

If you are expecting to fully engage your students with your live lecturing performance you will be sorely disappointed with the level of participation.

Students most likely will have their webcams turned off. They may not have a private space or many other reasons why it is uncomfortable for them to allow you (and ALL their classmates) into their home/car/porch/tent/etc… Because their webcam is turned off, you can not see their face or read their reactions to the discussion.

Why the summer sound of noisy crickets is growing fainter
Crickets chirp when it’s silent.

Have you tried asking an open question in zoom only to be answered with silence [insert crickets chirping]? Students may not be paying attention or know how to interact in this new classroom. Building class-community and connections with students from the start may help easy their tensions when trying to interact with their instructor and classmates. Give students a chance to use Zoom reactions vs verbal responses. Then WAIT…until ALL students have responded in some way.

You may have also heard about Zoom fatigue. Imagine a student who has 3 lectures on zoom in one day. Now imagine having three 1-hour to 1.5-hour long meetings in one day via Zoom. YUCK is right! Only ask participants to turn on webcams if it is absolutely needed.

So how do we teach inside of Zoom?
I fall on the side of using Zoom to support the content, rather than deliver the content. Zoom makes it really easy for us to create, edit, and link in Moodle a screencast of our content. We use Zoom to screencast our content into micro-lectures, then use our live class sessions in Zoom to discuss, reinforce, and expand upon concepts. Sounds like a new type of flipped-classroom!

There are hundreds of tips and tricks to use while teaching in Zoom. The best advice we can give is to practice – practice – practice. All of the reactions, filters, polls, screen-shares, etc are only great if you know how to use them and seamlessly transition from one to another. We can help you get started in the ATC!

Need to talk through your course plan with an Instructional Designer?

Post UPDATE: Learn Zoom through LCCs Linked-in Learning platform.

Session 5: Content and Activities

June 5, 1pm-2pm Recording.

Does your course offer access to a variety of engaging resources and activities that facilitate communication and collaboration, deliver content, and support learning and engagement?

OSCQR: Content and Activities Category 

Upcoming options

LaneOnline OSCQR Top 15

OSCQR in focus:

29. [Variety] Course offers access to a variety of engaging resources that facilitate communication and collaboration, deliver content, and support learning and engagement.

Why it matters:

  • Students learn more by doing than by listening/consuming content.
  • All content and activities should be aligned with module, course, and program objectives.
  • WHY do students need to do this?  Do you tell them why?

What it looks like:

  • Tell them WHY and HOW they should be engaging with course resources.
  • Meet with a librarian to help find more engaging materials.
  • Explore OERCommons
  • Course share with other faculty – meet and show what you do and why. (teaching-pairs?)
  • Don’t lecture.  (50 alternatives to lecturing) – small chunks w/ interaction/assessment.
  • Using the features within zoom to keep students engaged
  • Google doc – reactions while learning – used as prompts for future discussion
  • Breakout rooms in zoom for discussion

30. [Higher Order Thinking] Course provides activities for learners to develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills, such as critical reflection and analysis.

Why it matters:

  • Individual and group reflections – sustained critical thinking and reflection allow the students to construct knowledge, inquiring, exploring, and thinking.

What it looks like:

  • Reflection – what did you learn?  Why is it important to you?  How can you apply this today? Etc..
  • Peer review groups – when assigning groups encourage (or assign?) students to meet via Google hangouts as a group.
  • Use anonymous posts in a course forum.  
  • Assign students a role in live zoom sessions (moderator, class spokesperson (filters/proposes all student questions, etc.)
  • Allow students to create course content.

31. [Authentic Activities] The course provides activities that emulate real-world applications of the discipline, such as experiential learning, case studies, and problem-based activities.

Why it matters:

  • These activities engage learners by having them establish what they know and don’t know, work together to come up with real-world solutions, share those solutions, and review possible results.

According to Kolb (1984), experiential learning relies on four elements:

  • Experience;
  • Critical reflection;
  • Abstract conceptualization; and
  • Active experimentation in a new situation.

What it looks like:

  • Explore MERLOT for case studies that you can integrated into your course.
  • Create scenario-based discussion forums for learners to interact in. Establish and assign roles for learners within those scenarios.
  • Use mini-cases as pre-lab work where learners can see what might go wrong before they are actually immersed in an online lab.
  • Have learners create and facilitate course related scenarios.
  • Have learners turn in reflective essays along with applied learning activities to measure critical thinking and reflection stages of the process.
  • Assign “offline” activities to learners, and have the learners “debrief” in the online environment.
  • Require foreign language learners to interact with native speakers (online) and summarize their experiences.
  • Have learners document their real-world experiences through digital storytelling tools.

Step 6, 7, 8 in Remote/Hybrid/Online Course Development

This post is continuation of the original 10 Steps to Build a Remote/Hybrid/Online Course.

Wondering where to start? Just as we normally tell our students – start at the top and work your way down. The development checklist and all other guides on course development are designed to help you chunk the course development into easy to digest chunks. Taking the course development overall process step-by-step will help take a massive project and turn it into doable steps.

Step 6: The course development checklist is designed to walk you through setting up your course – starting with providing directions on how students should start the course (getting started) through the first week or module of the course.

Key points in step 6 are to make sure you have a welcoming introduction, all your essential course information is clear, students and instructor begin to build class community from the very first student entry into the course.

Step 7: Consult with an instructional designer! Once you have completed your getting started material, course orientation, syllabus, introduction materials, and week 1 –> STOP! Meet with an ID to review your work and gather feedback on how to progress with the remainder of your course development.

Step 8: Following your format of week 1 – develop weeks 2, 3, …. Following OSCQR top 15 as a guide.  It’s ok if your course is not 100% complete before week 1, as long as week 1 is ready by week 1!  🙂

Stay tuned – step 9, 10, and 11 are next week!

Step 5 [..10 steps to course dev]: Instructional Design Moodle Course Template

This post in continuation of the original 10 Steps to Build a Remote/Hybrid/Online Course

Have you ever thought to yourself any of the following:

  • My course is a mess!
  • I worked so hard on all this content and activities, but my students seem so lost!
  • I am new to online/remote teaching and have no idea how to even start! #IfIhadadollar
  • I wish I had a place to at least start from.
  • I wish our department had a starting point for a shared course experience.

Have students ever asked:

  • How do I get started, navigate, and work through your course?
  • What are we doing this week?
  • I can’t find this weeks work, can you help me?
  • Why do we have to do this? (one of my personal favorites)
  • How do I submit this assignment?
  • When is our midterm? Finals? This week’s assignment?
  • I’m confused about what to do when to do it, and how I’m supposed to submit it to you. Can you help me?

Well, have we got an answer for you! The Instructional Design Services has developed a Moodle course shell template, IDS Template [OSCQR]. $ $ Free of charge and 100% openly licensed to share and share-alike with your friends!

The IDS template will provide you with a solid start to a course (remote or online) design that is student-centric and based on research best practices as outlined in OSCQR. Use all or just a few pieces of the course template – a la carte model of sharing the love.

Act fast to get yours! Email the and just ask for an import!

Ok..enough of the cheesy infomercial…my sales career lasted only a couple very miserable weeks in college. If interested all you need to do is email the ATC and ask for an import of all or pieces of the template. Have questions about how to use the template or what parts make sense to bring over to your course? Inquire with an instructional designer.

Review of steps to Course Dev so far covered:
STEP 1: Brush up on my Moodle skills.
STEP 2: Review and spend time with the IDs OSCQR Top 15 best practices in course design.
Step 3: Meet with an instructional designer to develop a Personal Development Plan (PDP) on course design and training needed to teach.
Step 4: Complete a course planning worksheet (note this can be used in your syllabus).
Step 5: Ask the ATC to import the IDS Moodle course template.  Use the template material and fill in the blanks where needed.

next post in series of 10 steps to course dev (coming soon):
Step 6: Complete Getting Started Course Development checklist and follow the steps on building introduction through week 1 of course.
Step 7: Meet with an instructional designer to develop a Personal Development Plan (PDP) on course design and training needed to teach.

Google doc in action (steps 1-5)

Questions / Comments / Feedback – comment in discussion below!

Friday Session 2: Getting Started, Course Overview, and Information

UPDATE 5/12: Recording of this session available

What are some top student success strategies when starting an online course? We will talk about these and what essential components need to be in place in your course for the greatest chance of student success.

OSCQR best practices in focus during this topic: 

  1. *1. [Getting Started] Course includes Welcome and Course Orientation Content that establishes instructor presence and guidance. 
  2. *2. [Course Overview] An orientation or overview is provided for the course overall, as well as in each module. Learners know how to navigate and what tasks are due.
  3. *40. [Instructor Presence] Learners have an opportunity to get to know the instructor.

Outline and resources

Step 4 [..10 steps to course dev]: Course Planning Worksheet

Step 4: Complete a course planning worksheet (note this can be used in your syllabus).

This post in continuation of the original 10 Steps to Build a Remote/Hybrid/Online Course

The course planning worksheet has gotten a lot of positive feedback from instructors who have worked with it.  When completed BEFORE you dive into Moodle and start adding all kinds of cool stuff to your course.  The planning worksheet is designed to help you outline or draft your course before you take the time to add / remove / change / move / delete / re-add / pull hair out.  Do this as paper and pencil – or draft through Google docs.  Eventually, you can integrate this into your syllabus to provide a one(ish) page “snap-shot” of your course.

Don’t have 100% of the course figured out yet?  Yeah – me either!  No course will ever be 100% developed – it’s like remodeling a house.  Many first time courses have instructors who do their best to stay one week ahead of the students.  This is okay!  

One of the most difficult parts of teaching online is I can’t just “wing-it” like I used to [only sometimes] in the classroom.  Many of my best lessons were those conceived on the drive into campus.  Or those ad-hoc discussions when the students and I would go down the rabbit hole on a cool concept (actually I have much richer discussions online now).  

That all said, complete the course planning worksheet to the level of detail you feel your pedagogy has tolerance for.  It will help you, trust me.  Share a solid outline of your course with your students to provide a course format, but allow for flexibility and adaptation of your instruction per your student response and interactions with the course…just like in 2019!

Get Ready Now: Set minimum technical requirements

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
Written homework Modern computer, or tablet with a keyboard, or smartphone with dictation capability
Google Apps 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.

Type of AssignmentType of software needed
Written homeworkWord processing software: Microsoft Office (free download); Google Apps
Presentations: building slidesMicrosoft PowerPoint; Google Slides
Presentations: filming or presentingScreencast-o-matic (free), Zoom (if offering live)
Attending or participating in web conferencesZoom
Turning in large filesGoogle Drive
Uploading/sharing videosGoogle Drive or YouTube (both available with Lane email account Google access)

Get Ready Now: Contact Current and Future Students NOW!

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.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, “Beyond the Food Pantry: Supporting #RealCollege Students During COVID19

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):

Cheat Sheets and Quick Starts and Guides, Oh My!

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).

Quick list of quick guides:

We have more help available on the Teaching Continuity Plan page.

And just remember…