For the latest information about the University of Alaska's response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, visit alaska.edu/coronavirus19.
All faculty and adjuncts have access to the FACULTY COVID-19 DEMO COURSE shell within Blackboard. Log into Blackboard to access the course shell. Please review the short tutorial for Locating Your Course if you’re not sure how to find the course. This course shell is continually updated and contains resources, video tutorials and step-by-step guides to help you finish out the Spring 2020 Semester.
Beginning Monday, March 30, ETT Staff will be available by phone or email during normal business hours or you can reach us individually during our office hours via Zoom:
Spring Break has been extended through the week of March 16-20 with classes resuming on March 23. Most in-person classes will now be held via temporary alternative delivery methods. We are working closely with our fellow faculty support departments at UAA to ensure that you have what you need during this time of transition. The entire Educational Technology Team is prepared to offer instructional design and educational technology integration support with extended hours for consultations, workshops offered with Academic Innovations and eLearning, and open labs offered virtually and on campus.
When faced with the necessity for rapid online course development, I encourage you
to consider advice that has been circulating through higher education circles: Please do a bad job of putting your courses online by Dr. Rebecca Barrett-Foxx, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Arkansas State University.
In addition to grabbing your attention, Dr. Barrett-Foxx brings up several practical
points worth remembering. Of note: be kind to yourself. This is not a normal circumstance
where you know you’re going to teach online and you have the time to develop an innovative,
quality course. Go back to the basics: student learning outcomes. What still needs
to be covered and how can you help your students meet the SLOs. Now isn’t the time
to experiment with the latest cutting-edge, innovative tool, keep things simple, consistent,
and provide clear instructions for students.
Check technology requirements to teach remotely. At a minimum, you should have a computer or other internet capable device, a headset with microphone, and a webcam. If you do not have everything you need, please contact ETT.
Create a communication plan. There are a number of ways you can communicate with students directly from within Blackboard, to include posting announcements, sending emails, or using course messages. You can also hold virtual office hours using Zoom or Collaborate directly from your course shell. Consider your options and determine your main method of communication with students and share that with them. You’ll also want to provide information for how students can communicate with you and with their classmates. It’s never too soon to share this information with students.
Special note about sending emails to students from within Blackboard: Please be aware that emails generated to students from within Blackboard will only be sent to university emails; if students opt to forward their alaska.edu email to a personal email address, they will not receive any of your messages. If you check the box to “Send a copy of this announcement immediately” when creating an announcement or use the “Send Email” course tool, you may want to alert students to check their university email.
Decide how you will teach. There are three main options available: hold synchronous class sessions with Zoom, pre-record and upload your lectures, or skip the “video” completely
Holding synchronous sessions with Zoom allows you to meet with students with the option of communicating with audio only or with audio and video. Zoom has several features that can mimic in-class participation. You can share your screen and lecture from slides or use a whiteboard. The chat feature allows you and students to communicate via text. Breakout rooms can be a good option for small group discussions and can be pre-set or developed during the session. Using Zoom may require only minimal adjustments to your current class activities.
You can pre-record your lectures and upload them to your Blackboard shell for students to view. There has been quite a lot of discussion over length of videos. Under normal circumstances, online best-practices suggest limiting video length to 5-7 minutes. However, I suggest that you stick with what you are comfortable with and what your students are familiar with. If your students are used to coming to class and listening to an hour long lecture, you can continue to lecture as normal and provide students with a recording. When pre-recording lectures, ETT recommends using Kaltura Personal Capture-it is intuitive and already integrated with Blackboard. Additionally, all videos created with Kaltura Personal Capture are captioned. Machine captioning with Kaltura is not perfect, but it is quite close. You can also use Zoom to record lectures and your Zoom account can be linked to Kaltura. Those videos would also then be automatically captioned and ready to share with students in Blackboard. If you need assistance with recording your lectures, please contact ETT.
You can also skip the video completely by annotating slideshows with notes and sharing them with students. There are many open educational resources available that you can use in lieu of recording your own videos. UAA Consortium Library’s OER Guide is a good place to start if you’re unsure of where to go to find resources.
Plan for student engagement. As you begin thinking about where to start, decide how you want students to engage with the course content and with each other. Engaging with course material can be done in many ways and can be an individual process or a group effort. Discussion forums can be interactive and facilitate deeper learning. If you choose to use discussion forums, try to avoid questions or topics with a single “answer.” To encourage interaction, keep discussions open ended, application-based, or even collaborative. You might also consider using VoiceThread, which allows discussions to be actual discussions using voice or video.
First things first, you will need to prepare your Blackboard course shell. There are several resources available to help you with this. If you are completely unfamiliar with Blackboard, begin by watching the Blackboard Basics playlist. These short, 1 minute, section by section videos walk you through the basics of Blackboard navigation and building course content. For more detailed information on working in Blackboard, review the Keep Teaching Webinars, Getting Your Course Up and Running in Blackboard and Assignments and Grades in Blackboard. Additionally, we’ve prepared a demo-course for your review that includes tutorials and short videos on how to work within Blackboard.
Once you are familiar with the Blackboard environment, begin considering how you might shift your content from a face-to-face modality into the online learning environment. Remember that our goal is on course completion by focusing on Student Learning Outcomes (SLO). Review your course schedule and prioritize the remaining course activities that will best help students complete the course by meeting the SLOs. Make note of the assignments that can be used as-is, modified, or in some cases, eliminated completely.
I recommend that you do your best to reduce complexity and keep things as simple for you and for students as possible, while being as clear and direct with instructions as possible. This may require you to rethink your activities and assignments. Consider a backwards design approach: what is the end result you’re looking for and then consider alternative ways that students might demonstrate mastery of a topic or concept. If your course includes labs, there are several online resources you may find helpful:
Classes are set to resume on Monday, March 23 and you’ll be ready! I remind you once again to be kind to yourself. This is not a normal set of circumstances in which you have agreed to teach online and have ample time to prepare. These are extenuating circumstances and I promise you that students aren’t looking for perfection nor will they likely notice what you may have eliminated in the rapid course development process. They are worried about the same things we all are: health and safety of themselves and their families, jobs and bills, and they have the added pressure of completing the semester under trying circumstances. They’ll be too busy to nitpick your course development skills.
In many ways, this first day back after Spring Break will feel like the first day of the semester: students will “walk into” a brand new class environment. I encourage you to create a welcome video for students. Provide them with a tour of the course. Share important details about the revised class format such as:
The Educational Technology Team is here to support you, so please do not hesitate to share your questions and concerns with us. Feel free to join in any of our virtual drop-in hours this week and let us know how we can be of help.
UAA Academic Innovations & eLearning Keep Teaching
UA Virtual Campus (resources for faculty and staff who will be working remotely)
Teaching Online Resources Florence Martin, Learning, Design and Technology, UNC Charlotte
Online Teaching Toolkit Association of College and University Educators
WICHE COVID 19 Resources
QM Emergency Remote Instruction Checklist
Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions