- Where Does Online Teaching Happen?
- What Help and Support Is Available for Online Teaching?
- How Do I Distribute My Course Materials and Information?
- What Should I Communicate to Students?
- How Can I Deliver Lectures Online?
- How Can I Collect Assignments and Student Work?
- What Are Some Options for Online Assessment?
- What Are Some Tools and Tips for Large Online Classes?
- Carleton Announcement: COVID-19
This webpage was created to help Carleton instructors with moving their course(s) online and with finding additional support and resources during an online transition.
An instructor may want to transition a course online temporarily during a campus disruption, such as a weather event, or during a change to instructor availability, such as in a family emergency. A sudden change to the course mode of delivery can be challenging for everyone involved, but some basic considerations can help.
cuLearn is an Carleton’s online learning environment. Every course, instructor and student has access via their Carleton login credentials (i.e. the same login you use for Outlook email). All courses already have an available cuLearn space to use and already have the registered students and assigned teacher enrolled.
Accessing the course is as simple as logging in. (NOTE Teaching Assistants will need to be manually added to the course by the instructor to have access in cuLearn.) Everyone accesses cuLearn via a basic web browser on their laptops, desktops, and mobile devices (i.e. tablets and cellphones).
- For a video introduction to cuLearn, including how to access, navigate and perform basic tasks visit: https://youtu.be/6mxLyIwvibw
- For a quick guide on what an online course might include, review the course setup checklist on the cuLearn support website
Support for cuLearn is available in a variety of ways:
- visit the cuLearn Support Website for instruction sets with screen shots of most course tasks
- email the Ed Tech Inbox to contact members of the Ed Tech Team with questions
- call to speak with a member of the Ed Tech team at the Educational Develop Centre (ext. 4433)
cuLearn allows you to upload files in multiple ways into the course site. A variety of file types can be uploaded (such as Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoint slides), but to be mobile friendly, PDF formats are often more readable on cellphones. Cellphones are the most common type of mobile device for students. Try to keep file sizes small, and avoid uploading images as these can slow down the course load times.
Post an updated information file or content page about what your online course plans are, such as altered due dates, changes to assignment submissions, and collaborative activities. Students will need to know the scope of the change and how course delivery is being restructured.
- Make sure students know when new material is posted: Inform students of new information and the uploaded files you’d like them to review.
- Keep things phone friendly: In a crisis, many students may only have a phone available, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats, such as PDFs. Consider saving other files (for example, PowerPoint presentations) to PDFs, which are easier to read on phones and tablets. PDFS help keep file sizes small for quicker loading. Remember that videos take lots of bandwidth and can take a long time to load on slow internet. Keep videos short and opt for several shorter videos (5-7 minutes) rather than long segments.
- Use accessible formatting for more inclusive documents
- Place online readings on reserve by submitting an ARES reservation request to the library. Access to online readings will be created within your course and will be accessible in cuLearn for students.
Communicate early, regularly and openly with your students. Your communication is a big part of your online classroom presence and teaching continuity. Keep the tone positive, helpful, and encouraging. Create a clear and consistent Communication Plan for your online course to set the structure and expectations in the new environment.
Review the policies in your syllabus and communicate any changes to students. For example, mandatory attendance policies and sick note requirements may need to change to be flexible to student needs. Assignment submission may change and may no longer be submitted on paper or in person. Be clear about which policies will stay the same, and communicate any changes for the new online environment.
Regular communication is critical in online learning. Communication creates your presence in the course and helps create a positive learning environment. Establish what communication will look like online in your course. Students will need to know what the new structure will be for learning activities and what your expectations are for how students will behave online.
Create a communication plan for yourself and your students and share it with the class. In the plan, identify the methods you will use to communicate about all course activities and learning materials. Indicate your expectations for the students (remember to be flexible and adaptable to your student’s diverse needs). Your communication plan should establish how you will communicate and how often you will be available to respond to questions.
Be clear about when you will be online and set clear, realistic communication response times (i.e. “I will reply to emails within 24 to 48 hour”, for example). Outline what communication online will look like and then stick to the plan as much as possible. Setting expectations for when and how often you will communicate helps students know what to expect and where/when to look for information.
Knowing that you are available and present online will help your students follow along in the course and be more engaged with their learning. Your attitude about the course will create their online course experience.
When you get individual questions that could be relevant to the entire class, re-post the question and answer to a Frequently Asked Questions forum (discussion board) that students can reply to and refer to later. Students can support each other by providing information and helping to clarify issues before emailing you. Encourage your students to check the FAQ regularly for updates. This will help you manage your email load.
cuLearn has several tools to assist you with communicating in the online environment:
|cuLearn Activity||Description||Sample Uses||Instructions for Setup|
|Announcements||Post a message that gets emailed to the entire class
Messages are archived on the course page behind the Announcements link
|Broadcast a message to all students that classes will now take place online only; provide information about what online learning will look like||Posting Announcements|
|Send emails to individuals or small groups in the course||answer questions for specific students to address their concerns
remind students of an upcoming assignment or deadline
|BigBlueButton||Web conferencing tool for virtual meetings (<100 people)||online office hours
short lecture/teaching sessions
group collaboration and activities
|Forum||Virtual discussion board for online conversations||Frequently Asked Questions and answers
Group online discussion of concepts
Resource sharing (such as relevant websites or readings) and discussion
|Kaltura Capture||Lecture/screen recording tool||Introduce your students to the online course space
Record your PowerPoint and lectures in short video segments (think about chunking into easy to digest concepts)
Post video messages to your students to connect with them
Teaching strategies and approaches online may need to be modified for better online student engagement. Short lectures or screen capture videos can be a good way to create a course presence or to explain key concepts.
Longer lectures are less engaging and can take a long time to load in online courses, particularly if students have low speed internet or weak wifi. Consider how you can break up your content into smaller digestible chunks or alternative ways students could learn the content.
- Kaltura Capture is a tool for short, screen capture videos that can be viewed according to your student’s schedule (asynchronously). Keep in mind that videos are a one way, communication tool. You will need to find additional ways to engage your student’s critical thinking and active participation, such as reflection tasks or group discussions.
- BigBlueButton is a web conferencing tool that can be used for real-time, synchronous online conversations and teaching in groups of less than 100. Sessions can also be recorded for later viewing/review (asynchronous delivery). Note that all students may not be able to participate in online sessions due to disruptions in their schedules or limited access to high speed internet.
- Record in small chunks: We all learn better when information is chunked into shorter digestible units. Keep videos short (5-7 minutes) and alternate them with small activities, such as discussion or group collaboration to aid student learning. Smaller chunks mean smaller file sizes which is important for many students with slow internet.
- Be flexible with live video: While live web conferencing sessions can be a great way to engage your students real-time, not all students may be able to meet online due to weak internet availability or disrupted schedules. Record your online sessions and be flexible about when students can view them.
- Think beyond content: Think of your lectures and screen recordings as a way to create a course presence and normalcy. Consider how you can make students feel involved and connected. Speak to your shared current experience, acknowledge current challenges, praise the participation of online discussions, and emphasize the importance of their online engagement. Encourage engagement behaviours by being engaged yourself and by praising student engagement in the course.
- Use an external microphone to make recordings: clear audio is important for useful videos. Using an external microphone
The Assignment activity is a great tool for submission and grading of student work. Many students are already familiar with the Assignment upload process and embrace this paper-less format. Instructors can review, grade and provide comments on assignments all within cuLearn which can greatly simplify the submission process.
However, assignment collection can pose a challenge for students with limited access to high speed internet. You may need to provide flexible arrangements or options for students with limited access to internet. Engage students in a dialogue about what might work for their learning needs.
- Require only common software and file formats. Every student on campus has access to Microsoft Office 365 tools via ITS. However, not all students might have compatible devices. Be adaptable to your student’s unique learning situation.
- Avoid emailed attachments: It may be easy to collect assignments in small classes via email, but larger classes might swamp your email inbox. Consider using the cuLearn Assignment tool instead. Balance what is simplest for students with what is easiest for you to manage.
- State expectations, but be ready to allow extensions: In the case of a campus closure or other crisis, some students will undoubtedly have difficulties meeting deadlines. Make expectations clear, but be ready to provide more flexibility than you normally would in your class.
Small quizzes are a good way to hold students accountable for course materials or to check-in on student learning. Providing high-stakes tests online can be challenging online and can place extra stress on students.
Consider breaking up high-stakes assessments into smaller component that can be more flexible and can reduce student stress.
Carleton is exploring proctored online testing tools for fully online courses, and will work to expand this capability in the event of a campus closure.
- Embrace short quizzes: Short quizzes can be a great way to keep students engaged with course concepts, particularly if they are interspersed with small chunks of video lecture. Consider using very-low-stakes quizzes to give students practice at applying concepts—just enough points to hold them accountable, but not so many that the activity becomes all about points.
- Move beyond simple facts: It is good to reinforce concepts through practice on a quiz, but generally it is best to move beyond factual answers that students can quickly look up. Instead, write questions that prompt students to apply concepts to new case studies or scenarios, or ask them to identify the best of multiple correct answers.
- Check for publishers’ test banks: Look to see if your textbook publisher has question banks that can be loaded into cuLearn; even if you don’t use these questions for your exams, they can be useful for simple quizzing.
- Update expectations for projects: Campus disruptions may limit students’ access to resources they need to complete papers or other projects, and team projects may be harmed by a team’s inability to meet. Be ready to change assignment expectations based on the limitations a crisis may impose.
Possible options include allowing individual rather than group projects, having groups record presentations with BigBlueButton, or adjusting the types of resources needed for research papers.
- Consider alternate exams: Delivering a secure exam online can be difficult without a good deal of preparation and support, so consider giving open-book exams or other types of assessments. Alternative assessments, such as reports, video projects and portfolios can all demonstrate deep learning. These assessments can be more intensive to grade, but you will have fewer worries about test security.
Teaching large online classes poses particular challenges for instructors. Effective communication becomes even more important as a means of keeping students organized and also minimizing instructor workload and email. All online activities can be slower with increased user traffic. To help alleviate network slowdowns and time outs, consider breaking up activities into smaller sections or staggering completion of assessments.
TA management is another consideration and TAs become invaluable for communicating with smaller groups of students.
Consider hosting a brief weekly meeting with your TAs to discuss the course progress and strategies for teaching. Weekly meetings could be hosted online via BigBlueButton.
Some tools you may want to use to facilitate TA management, course communication and student learning:
|cuLearn Activity||Description||Sample Uses||Instructions for Setup|
|BigBlueButton||Web conferencing tool for virtual meetings (<100 people)||Tutorials for small group sections run by TAs
Instructor hosted group meeting for TA management
Instructor-led or TA-led concept review in small groups
Teaching short concepts with a shared white board
Host online office hours
|Kaltura Capture||Lecture/screen recording tool||Record short videos of key concepts (5-7 minutes)
TAs can create short videos to reinforce teaching materials and topics
|Forum (Discussion)||Virtual discussion board for online conversations and blogging||Create discussion boards for subsets of the class (i.e. Week 1 Discussion– Last names A-G))to engage in smaller groups
Create a FAQ page to address common questions and to clarify instructions to help minimize email overload
|Feedback||An asyncrhonous survey tool for getting input from your students||Create an anonymous survey to check student understanding of concepts
Get feedback from students about what options they would find most useful for possible assessments
Ask students about what they need to be engaged and succeed in the online course
|Chat||A synchronous communication tool for live chats between students, TAs, or small groups||Create informal spaces for students to chat with each other about class related concepts
Book online time for TAs or the instructor to chat directly with students for clarifications prior to a major assessment
Since early January, Carleton has been tracking the COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) situation daily, offering guidance and regular updates. Read up-to-date information for the Carleton community at https://newsroom.carleton.ca/coronavirus-covid-19/
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