Readying for a pandemic

Friday, March 6

Research, Instruction, Technology has drafted (just a draft! it will change!) a guide to some technologies that faculty might use to transform their classes for online delivery . NB: These are mostly technological suggestions, offered to aid faculty members and departments as they contemplate such changes in the current crisis

Here are some handy resources around pedagogy under the circumstances:

  • “Teaching Online with Care”; “Teaching in the Context of COVID-19”; Smith College’s guide to COVID19 digital support
  • The Federal Student Aid office encourages faculty to remember this shift does not have to be dramatic: “To meet the Department’s requirements for providing distance education, an institution must communicate to students through one of several types of technology – including email – described under 34 CFR § 600.2, and instructors must initiate substantive communication with students, either individually or collectively, on a regular basis. In other words, an instructor could use email to provide instructional materials to students enrolled in his or her class, use chat features to communicate with students, set up conference calls to facilitate group conversations, engage in email exchanges or require students to submit work electronically that the instructor will evaluate.” (tl;dr: it doesn’t have to be in a learning management system or videoconference)
  • Sean Michael Morris has a helpful Twitter thread about suddenly teaching online. Basically, he encourages focusing on the human elements–being honest about everyone’s anxiety and the bumpiness of the transition; tolerating improvisational/flexible aspects of online (dis)connection; and accepting mistakes from yourself and others.
  • Amy Hoy has an extremely practical and useful thread about deepening engagement online, even for daylong workshops.
  • This thread by Naomi Rendina and many others has lots of suggestions for alternative assignments.
  • More to come as I find them!

A couple of other things:

  • Trinity now offers pro licenses of Zoom to anyone with a email address, accessible at Zoom allows you to set up either group meetings or individual appointments, offers optional cloud-based recording, as well as transcripts. During meetings, you can share your screen, mute participants, put students in small groups for breakout sessions, allow students to share their screen (for presentations), use a virtual whiteboard, have a concurrent text chat, and more. Zoom is also available as an “External Tool” activity in Moodle, allowing you schedule Zoom meetings directly in Moodle. (We continue not to recommend simply running all class sessions on Zoom in an unadapted way.)
  • More information on accessibility concerns is coming. Moodle does allow you to offer extended time on quizzes/exams, and PowerPoint, Kaltura, Zoom, and Teams all offer some version of transcriptions or captioning.
  • We have pulled together a list of resources for students.
  • In terms of equipment needed: If you have a computer with a webcam, you have everything you need. This means: most recent-vintage Windows or Mac laptops, or almost any Mac desktop. Chromebooks are touch-and-go. Smartphones can work as videocameras in a pinch. Since laptops are scarce, you may want to remote desktop into your office machine. Instructions are available for Windows and Macs.

It is worth going through some of the exercises identified by Indiana University: communicate with students; consult with your department; practice using some of the tools. In particular, I (Jason) think getting familiar with receiving assignments online, regardless of a closure is a good place to start.

(Also: Clean your phone!)