Suggested ways to accomplish key tasks and address common challenges
Re-imagine Your Class!
Regardless of the mode of delivery, within a teaching disruption, our focus needs to remain student-centered and on achievement of the learning objectives. In planning, this is an opportunity to re-think the content, activities, and even assessments from a new point-of-view.
Below is a simple approach that might help frame your mindset during the development and execution of an effective plan.
- Look at your syllabus; specifically learning objectives, content, activities, and assessments.
- Think about 2 concepts; Transferal and Transformation.
- Ask yourself which activities can be moved to a online/remote activity
(Examples: Web-based Video, Didactic Lecture, Group Discussion, etc.). = Transferal
- Think about which activities do not lend themselves to the online/remote environment and ask yourself what different approach could be used that will still meet your module and course objectives.
- Think about creating new ways to present content, activities, and assessments that align with your objectives. = Transformation
- Ask yourself which activities can be moved to a online/remote activity
- Get creative and use the resources available to you.
- Brainstorm the possible activities and content.
- Take advantage of the expertise in your department to discuss ideas, successes, and lessons learned with colleagues.
- Access support materials and training (see Resources on this site).
- Contact CETL for individual consultation.
Quizzes and tests remain a popular method of assessment but there are a lot of other ways to assess your student and often in a more authentic manner. In addition to online exams and quizzes, incorporate discussion posts, assignment submissions, group projects, or other assessments to meet your objectives. Keep in mind two particular challenges when considering new assessments: 1) Utilizing new technology, and 2) Student access to computers and software.
See the assessment page on this site for more comprehensive in-depth information
- This is a great time to re-imagine alternative authentic assessments. Consider alternatives to quizzes and multiple choice exams (papers, projects, etc.)
- Students have access to a range of software, such as the Microsoft Office applications, through software.uconn.edu. or through UConn Anyware at anyware.uconn.edu.
- If you will use online exams and quizzes, randomize questions and answer choices to maximize academic integrity.
- Consider using LockDown Browser with the Monitor option so students are unable to access other software, the internet, or files during the exam, and you can record them while they take it. (Keep in mind that students will need to have a webcam on their computers for this option to work.)
Typical University technology options for assessing your students:
- Discussion Boards are a great way for students to demonstrate their grasp of material and for the faculty to correct misunderstandings about your course material.
- Assignments allow you to create, edit, collect, and grade assignments submitted by students
- Tests and surveys allows you to enter questions, create pools of questions, measure student knowledge, and gather information on student learning.
- SafeAssign compares submitted student work against a database of websites and previous paper submissions, and generates an “originality score” that can help determine whether a student’s submission matches other sources.
Additional resources on assessing using HuskyCT are available at: https://confluence.uconn.edu/ikb
Authentication of Students in the Event of Teaching Disruption
The University must implement procedures to verify that the student who registers in an online or remote taught course is the same student who participates in and completes the course and receives academic credit.
NEASC accreditation standard 4.48 and Federal requirements under Sec. 602.17(g)of the Higher Education Act of 1965 require the University to verify that a student who registers in a "distance education or correspondence education course" is the same student who participates in and completes the course and receives academic credit. At UConn, courses listed as Distance Learning (DL) or Online (WW) fall under the federal guidelines listed above. The major disruptions to the Fall Semester related to the Covid-19 outbreak have led to far more courses being offered as DL or WW. To meet the federal and accreditation standards, faculty should follow the guidelines provided here:
What are my UConn faculty peers doing?
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- Teaching Writing Ideas, UConn English, Emma Lee. (click link to open)
Helpful Articles and Guides
Below is a compilation of some helpful readings.
- What Incoming First-Year Students Want Online Learning to Be
EDUCAUSE, James M. Quirk and James P. Quirk, Published: Wednesday, July 29, 2020
- Best Way to Stop Cheating in Online Courses? ‘Teach Better’
Inside Higher Ed, Doug Lederman
- Coping With Coronavirus: How Faculty Members Can Support Students in Traumatic Times
Chronicle of Higher Education
- How to Be a Better Online Teacher (Advice Guide)
Chronicle of Higher Education, Flower Darby
- Thoughts and Resources for Those About to Start Teaching Online Due to COVID-19
Jacqueline Wernimont (Dartmouth, USA), Cathy N. Davidson (CUNY Grad Center, USA)
- Building Community in Asynchronous Online Courses (from Duke, Learning Innovation)
- ACUE Online Teaching Toolkit
Association of College and University Educators
- Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start
Chronicle of Higher Education, Michelle D. Miller
- 4 Lessons from Moving a Face-to-Face Course Online
Chronicle of Higher Education, Kevin Gannon
- Virtual Classes Shouldn’t Be Cringeworthy. Here are 5 Tips for Teaching Live Online
EdSurge, Digital Learning in Higher Ed, Bonni Stachowiak
- How to Quickly (and Safely) Move a Lab Course Online
Chronicle of Higher Education, Heather R. Taft, March 17, 2020
Communicate With Your Class
During times of uncertainty, it's imperative that you communicate with your class. You don't have to have everything figured out yet, but reaching out will ease students' stress of the unknown. Communicating expectations can help, as well as your ability to be somewhat flexible during this time.
In the event of a teaching disruption, communicate with your students early and as things change. Inform them of your expectations and also communicate what they can expect from you. Students will look to instructors for information and clear directions as well as a sense of normalcy.
Considerations when communicating with your class:
- 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. But try to balance rather than overload the communication.
- Set expectations: Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often you expect them to check their email, and how quickly they can expect your response. Let them know the best method to contact you.
- Manage your own communications load: When you receive individual requests for information that could be useful to all your students, keep track of and send those replies out to everyone. Also, consider creating an information page or discussion forum in HuskyCT to answer most frequently asked questions.
University technology options for communicating with your class:
- Announcements provide time-sensitive information to the entire class. Considering sending announcements related to online course plan, changes to syllabus, due dates for assignments and projects, instructions, corrections or clarifications, and exam schedules.
- Course messages provide private communication within the course among course members. Course messages are similar to email except you must be logged into a HuskyCT course to read and send course messages. Utilizing the HuskyCT message function allows you to keep all courses related messages in the same place.
- Discussion Boards can be used as a form of communication. Faculty can use a discussion forum to share information, particularly responses to frequently asked questions, so all students will benefit from the information.
You may wish to share this information with your class:
Examples of Alternative Activities
Below are examples of some ways you might adapt your course to remote online delivery.
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TOOLS FOR CREATING
TIPS and SUGGESTIONS
|Lecture||Recorded Short Videos||Kaltura/ Kaltura Capture
|Live Interactive Online Lecture||Collaborate Ultra or WebEX||
|Discussion Section||Live Meetings||Collaborate Ultra or WebEX||
|Small Group Discussions||Live Discussion in HuskyCT||Collaborate Ultra (using Breakout Groups)||
|Threaded Discussion||HuskyCT Discussion Tool (Discussion Board)||
|Full Class Discussions||Live Discussion||Collaborate Ultra||
|Threaded Discussion||HuskyCT Discussion Tool (Discussion Board)||Discussions in HuskyCT|
|Group Projects/Presentations||Live Collaboration||Collaborate Ultra
(Consider breakout groups)
||G Suite Sharing Settings for Groups|
||Collaborate Ultra tools include:
|Q&A Session||“Ask the Professor” Discussion Forum||HuskyCT Discussion Tool (Discussion Board)||Discussions in HuskyCT||Instructors should “Subscribe” to the forum to receive email notifications for new posts.|
|Live Meeting||Collaborate Ultra||Collaborate Ultra||Students could read/watch/do activity prior to the Q&A session to increase participation|
|iClicker Polling||Collaborate Ultra Polling||Collaborate Ultra||Collaborate Ultra Polling|
Provide Class Materials
You will likely need to provide additional course materials to support your changing plans. These materials might be an updated syllabus, new readings, assignments, videos, other materials.
Considerations when posting new course materials:
- Make sure students know when new material is posted. The Announcement tool in HuskyCT can be an effective communication method for this purpose.
- Try to keep things mobile friendly: Mobile-friendly formats such as PDFs, MP3, and MP4 will help when using mobile devices. Consider saving other files (such as PowerPoint presentations) to PDFs, which are easier to read on phones and tablets. Remember, videos require a lot of bandwidth, so choose your media content wisely and be sure to deliver them from a streaming server/service like Kaltura.
- For courses using commercially available films, consider asking the library to put an electronic copy on reserve. All videos should be captioned.
University technology options for posting new course materials:
- Adding videos to your HuskyCT site (.pdf)
- Sharing videos outside HuskyCT site (.pdf)
- UConn Library Course Reserves for Instructors
UConn Library Support & Services
Visit the UConn Library's site for updated information about Library services, access to materials, and support during the closure.
Copyright & Fair Use
- Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research, (March 13, 2020, external Google Doc)
- Fair Use & Copyright Help, UConn Library
- Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians, Copyright.gov
Always Consider Accessibility
Record a lecture
Short recorded lectures used in conjunction with other course materials, can be an effective way to conduct a class. Video can be pre-positioned to other activities, it can be the main content, or it can be responsive to activities that occur in a class. Additionally, recordings provide flexibility (play speed, watch again, etcetera) that live online lectures do not have.
Along with other resources, faculty will often want to provide audio and video content in order to provide further perspective, examples, explanations, or clarifications. Research has shown the value of video in the digital classroom when used effectively as a teaching tool.
Tips/Considerations when recording a lecture:
- Use headphones with a microphone to minimize surrounding noise and maximize your voice.
- Create an outline or draft a script for the lecture before recording.
- Longer lectures should be made into shorter videos (less than 10 minutes each). Students are more likely to maintain focus and retain information when viewing shorter videos than with long ones. Long videos also may cause problems successfully uploading to Kaltura.
- Embed quiz questions into the video. This will engage students with the material and allow them to check for understanding. Alternatively, give a post video quiz using HuskyCT's Test tool.
- Upload PDF files, media, website links, and other readings that support the content of your lecture.
- All videos should be captioned. Kaltura offers free machine-generate captioning. While the captions are surprisingly accurate, the instructor must review the captions for accuracy.
University and other technology options for recording lectures:
- Kaltura Capture enables instructors to record and publish audio, video, and screen captures, and integrates using My Kaltura Media in HuskyCT.
- Powerpoint allows you to create slides. add audio to each slide, and export an mp4 video file to upload to Kaltura.
Hold Synchronous Class Lecture, Discussions, or Office Hours
In some circumstances, faculty may wish to provide synchronous experiences (lectures, discussions, or office hours) for their online course. If this is the case, flexibility is key but live online lectures can introduce some challenges. Technical issues may arise and not all students may not have access. Not to mention accessibility concerns. Recording a live session for later viewing can help and consider that live student participation may need to be optional.
Considerations when presenting a synchronous experiences online:
- For faculty that want to replicate the lecture and discussion format of their regular class online, we recommend they consider using Blackboard Collaborate BUT ONLY IF THEY DO SO DURING THEIR REGULARLY SCHEDULED CLASS TIME. This synchronous option is pursued by those who believe that teaching and learning is best done at the ‘same time’ even if participants are at different locations/spaces. These live-streamed lectures (with affordances for student participation) can also be recorded and stored for later viewing. If a Collaborate session is created in HuskyCT, it automatically provides access to all students enrolled in the course.
- Synchronous offerings will be challenging for the students and even for the faculty. A lack of wi-fi or slow internet connection may make streaming difficult. Consider using audio only without video. Video will require more bandwidth.
- Use USB headphones with a microphone to minimize surrounding noise and maximize your voice.
- If using WebEx, Collaborate, Google Meet or other conferencing system, mute any participants who are not presenting. As the host, instructors are able to mute and unmute participants when necessary.
- If using the Blackboard app on phones, be sure to install the latest version of the app if you have not updated in a while. The phone app does not allow for sharing of content, just audio and video.
- Content should be recorded and posted on HuskyCT so students who are unable to join due to connection issues can view content at a later time. Collaborate saves the recordings in the Collaborate Ultra Tool. If they use WebEx they will need to link to the video or share a link to it somehow.
- Upload PDF files, media, website links, and other readings that support synchronous content.
University and other technology options for synchronous content:
- Collaborate Ultra is an online tool in HuskyCT that offers unique in-session tools, such as breakout rooms, an interactive whiteboard, application sharing, polling, and a hand-raising feature to enhance engagement and the face-to-face-feel of synchronous experiences. Please note that the Blackboard app on phones works with Collaborate but only audio and video can be used but content can not be shared. Therefore the phone app should only be used if only talking with students and not sharing any content.
- WebEx allows participants can collaborate online in real-time through the sharing of audio, video, and your computer screen.
- Google Meet - Hangouts Meet is a video-conferencing tool that is available to all UConn faculty, staff, and students through G Suite. It enables video meetings on your chosen device for up to 250 people and is integrated with the tools in G Suite. Meeting invitations can be sent from Gmail and Google calendar and recorded meetings saved to Google Drive.
Create Collaboration with and among Students
Building further upon student-to-student and student-to-faculty engagement mentioned above, opportunities to collaborate between students and with students will keep students motivated to participate and learn. These collaborations allow you to reproduce discussions, critical thinking experiences, and group work.
Considerations when presenting an asynchronous collaboration or discussion:
- The use of asynchronous (def: Not at the same time) tools is recommended whenever possible. While live conversations can be useful, students may have technology challenges during any closures. Bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are significantly less than synchronous tools.
- Communicate clear guidelines in discussion prompts to establish your expectations for student contribution, including writing style, number of posts, length of posts, frequency of posts, and content.
- Develop questions and prompts that require complex thinking and the application of concepts while avoiding repetitive student responses.
- Motivate active involvement by making students accountable for online discussions and collaborations.
- Use threaded discussions to allow students to respond to one another multiple times in an organized fashion.
- Be present in the discussion by providing feedback and coaching to student responses.
- Provide students with a variety of ways to participate including text, audio, or video.
- Create student groups for breakout communications and projects.
University and other technology options for asynchronous collaboration:
- HuksyCT (post content, instructions, links, use groups)
- Discussion board allows students to respond to prompts from instructor and to each other. For best practices for online discussions: https://kb.ecampus.uconn.edu/2016/04/08/developing-engaging-online-discussions/
- Collaborate Ultra
- Google docs
Run Laboratory Activities
One of the most challenging teaching and learning activities to replicate during a closure or cancellation is the lab components of classes. Many labs require specialized equipment that is difficult to reproduce outside of the physical lab space.
Considerations as you plan to address lab activities:
- Consider moving part of the lab online, such as video demonstrations of new techniques, online simulations, data analysis, or pre/post lab work. Any components of the lab that require the physical lab space may need to wait until access to the lab is restored.
- Investigate online resources and virtual tools to help replicate the lab experience. Video demonstrations of lab or simulations are often available online but so are virtual labs. Many of these are available at little to no cost on homeschooling website, YouTube, or various teaching sites. Also textbook publishers or sites such as Merlot offer materials that may help replace parts of your lab.
- If students will be unable to collect data, consider providing raw data for students to analyze. Videos or live demonstrations of the data collection process can help students to understand how the data was collected.
- Remember to replicate opportunities for instructors to interact directly or indirectly with the students. If videos of lab components are provided, embed questions into the video. Consider providing discussion prompts or holding online discussions or demonstrations.
- Be aware that students may not have access to all software used in the lab.
University and other technology options for running lab activities:
- Discussion board
- Google docs
Look at virtual lab options
There are a variety of platforms and techniques instructors can explore.
- MERLOT Simulation Collection (California State University)
The MERLOT collection of Open Educational Resources includes thousands of free simulations on a broad range of topics. The database is searchable by keyword, and each item in the collection provides details including material type, authorship, brief description, peer review rating, and user rating.
- ChemCollective (joint project from NSF, Carnegie Mellon, and NSDL)
Free, online chem lab simulations for topics including Stoichiometry, Thermochemistry, Equilibrium, Acid-Base Chemistry, Solubility, Oxidation/Reduction and Electrochemistry, Analytical Chemistry/Lab Techniques
- PhET Interactive Simulations (University of Colorado – Boulder)
Free online simulations and teaching activities for Physics, Chemistry, Math, Earth Science, and Biology (site has simulations for all grade levels; link takes you to simulations designed for university students)
- Wolfram Demonstrations Project
An open-code resource that uses dynamic computation to illuminate concepts in science, technology, mathematics, art, finance and a wide range of other fields. Demonstrations can be used to enliven a classroom, visualize complex concepts or shed new light on cutting-edge ideas from academic and industrial workgroups.
- How to Quickly (and Safely) Move a Lab Course Online, Chronicle of Higher Education, Heather R. Taft, March 17, 2020
Meet Student Accommodations and Make Resources Accessible
In moving to remote online teaching we need to still be mindful of the need for student accommodations. Be prepared to be responsive to requests for accommodation but also try to make your content accessible ahead of time.
Considerations for meeting accommodations and making resources accessible:
- One of the most common accommodations is extended time, particularly for exams and quizzes. This can be accomplished in HuskyCT for exams and quizzes by adding an exception: https://confluence.uconn.edu/ikb/teaching-and-learning/huskyct/instructor-support/tests-surveys-and-pools/how-to-accommodate-extra-test-time
- Ensure all videos and multimedia are accurately captioned. Kaltura offers machine captioning but it will need the instructor to correct for accuracy.
- Provide a transcript for audio files.
- For images, such as pictures, illustrations, and charts, provide meaningful alternative text to convey the purpose.
- Avoid using color or color changes alone to convey meaning.
- Write meaningful link text with links embedded in text describing the link’s destination.
- To learn more about accessibility: https://accessibility.its.uconn.edu/
- Remember Accessibility in the Rush to Online Instruction: 10 Tips for Educators
National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, March 12, 2020
See our separate list of Resource Guides for the most common questions and tools used to transition to remote online instruction.
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