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Facilitating Learning Remotely

In your face-to-face classes, you probably already use a wide variety of interactions that help students to grow intellectually, personally, and professionally during your time together. As we quickly shift our courses online, we hope the information below will be helpful as you think about facilitating similar interactions remotely.

With the upcoming shift from in-person to remote classes, the Office of Distance Learning (ODL) has now enabled and published the Zoom Conferencing Tool for easier access for all faculty and students. This tool will now appear in the left-hand course navigation for all courses. If you would like to remove Zoom from your course navigation, please follow these steps.

Students Interact with Other Students

Students interact in pairs

  • For asynchronous interaction:
  • For synchronous interaction:
    • Use Zoom web-conferencing, but keep in mind that we recommend this only for synchronous, high-collaboration needs interaction.

Students interact in small groups

  • For asynchronous interaction:
  • For synchronous interaction:
    • Only use Zoom for collaborative activities needing additional real-time tools, such as screen-sharing and whiteboards.
      • Assign a student to moderate the Zoom chat and to speak up for a Zoom participant with a question or a raised hand.
      • Share handouts and slides in advance to make sure Zoom participants can look at them. These handouts and slides could be shared via links in the Zoom chat room or by directing the student(s) to the appropriate place in Canvas where the materials may be available

Students share and/or collaborate on documents

Students provide one another with feedback

For all Peer Review activities within Canvas, write out clear and specific instructions about the expectations for peer review. Distributing guiding questions or a worksheet that students can fill out as they review their peer’s work would be useful.

  • Introducing peer review synchronously (via Zoom) and having students work in real time, consider:
    • Having students work in Google Docs, Office365, or Canvas Collaborations.
    • Engaging the students in a chat-based or video-based conversation about their expectations for peer review.
    • Having students use the chat box feature to share ideas about what makes for effective peer review.
    • Using Zoom’s built-in polling tool, or use an external polling tool if preferred, like PollEverywhere or Google Forms, to collect ideas about students’ impressions of and expectations for peer review.
  • Introducing peer review asynchronously and expecting students to work asynchronously, consider: 
    • Opening up a Canvas discussion forum with a prompt that invites students to share their past experiences with peer review. What worked? What didn’t? What are their goals this time? Aggregate student responses to create a document that outlines the class expectations and understandings of effective peer review experiences. 
    • Ask students to include questions for their peer reviewers at the top of their document so that their reviewers can have a sense of what the author would like them to focus on.
    • Use a Canvas Peer Review assignment to have students give each other feedback.

Students and Instructors Interact 

Synchronous, class-wide interactions between students and instructors

Use Zoom for synchronous (real-time) discussions or activities involving the whole class interacting together. This includes delivering a lecture, a demonstration, solving a problem, or any other delivery of material synchronously.

  • Use screen sharing within Zoom to make sure slides and discussion questions are visible to students who may have a slow internet connection or who may struggle to hear the audio for the initial question.
  • Consider making discussion questions available in advance in Canvas so that students can access the questions if screen sharing does not work. If sharing slides in advance to Canvas, share as PDFs, as students will be able to access the material on their phones.
  • Display an agenda on your first slide at the start of the class session so that students know what to expect of the shared time together.
  • Use the chat feature in Zoom (accessed via menu at bottom of your screen).
  • Moderate discussion, i.e., “call on” a student with a comment to speak, to help them break into the conversation.
  • For larger classes, assign a Fellow or TA to moderate the chat and make sure important questions and comments are addressed. It may be worthwhile to ask a student (or two) to take on special roles as “chat monitors” to voice if there are questions that arise that the instructor has missed.
  • You might use the chat to troubleshoot very simple technical problems. For example, if a student is having trouble connecting via audio or video, the chat might be a space for you as the instructor or for fellow students to work together to problem-solve. This may, again, be an opportunity to assign a student to a special role, especially if you have students eager to help on the technical aspect of things. However, students should contact FSU’s ODL Technical Support or Zoom Support directly outside of regular business hours for anything more complex.
  • Use cloud recording of Zoom sessions and upload slides to Canvas, along with any other items used during Zoom meeting.
  • Rethink your classroom activities to make the class more interactive even if Zoom students don’t have ideal connections and aren’t able to hear and see everything perfectly.

Ask student(s) to present or perform for the class

During your Zoom sessions, you can have students give presentations, do a musical performance, split up into small groups and then report back to the entire class, and more.

  • Encourage students to share their screen with class. Screen sharing is possible not just for the instructor in Zoom, but for students too. Help your students navigate towards a screen sharing option so that they can show you their written work on their screen.

Instructor responds to student work in a whole-group or small-group setting

For synchronous feedback and discussion of work:

  • Use Zoom in Canvas for a whole-group setting. You can use breakout rooms to give feedback to small groups of students if you will be giving this feedback during regularly scheduled “class time.”

  • Use Zoom outside of Canvas for meeting with small groups individually outside of a regular class time. Schedule the meeting through your own individual Zoom account, then share the meeting's "join URL" with only that small group of students via an email or a Canvas Inbox message.

Asynchronous, class-wide interactions between students and instructors

Use these items for asynchronous (i.e., the whole class, within a window of time, but not in real time) discussions or activities involving the whole class interacting together.

  • Slideshow presentation video
  • Canvas Discussion Forum
    • Set up a discussion for students in Canvas. Use specific, structured questions, and let students know expectations for their responses.
    • Craft discussion questions to be as clear and as specific as possible so that students can build off of the question for a sustained response.
    • Require students to make an initial post that responds to that content in some well-defined way. Then, require students to return later to respond to one or more posts by their classmates. Be specific about when students should complete each component.
    • Assign roles to students so that they understand when and how they might respond to you or their peers. For example, students might “role play” as particular kinds of respondents or you might ask them to do particular tasks (e.g. be a summarizer, a respondent, a connector with outside resources).
    • To mimic face-to-face interaction, students can use Kaltura's Express Capture tool to record short videos to add to their discussion posts.

Ask student(s) to present or perform for the class asynchronously

You can have students give presentations, do a musical performance, and more asynchronously.

  • Ask students to record themselves at their screen using Kaltura’s Personal Capture tool and a web camera and the built-in microphone on their computer. With Kaltura they can capture both their faces/persons as well as the slides on their screen.
  • Students can save their final recording file and upload it to their Kaltura My Media page, and then upload it to Canvas via Assignments or Discussions.
  • Keep in mind: If students submit the recording via Canvas Assignments, the file will only be visible to the instructor. If students submit the recording via Canvas Discussions, the file will be visible to the full class community.

Instructor responds to student work in a whole-group or small-group setting asynchronously

Synchronous, small-group interactions between instructor and students

Use Zoom for synchronous (real-time) discussions or activities involving small groups.

Instructor responds to student work in a small-group setting

Use Zoom, as already described depending on whether you are meeting during a regular class time (use breakout rooms within a whole-class meeting), or schedule a separate Zoom meeting if you will be meeting with the small group outside of regular class time.

Individual interaction between Instructor and Student

Synchronous, individual instructor-student meeting

For online office hours, or a one-on-one lesson, feel free to meet with students individually, and use Zoom.

  • Set up virtual office hours to meet with students using your webcam, share your computer screen or collaborate using Zoom’s whiteboard feature.
  • The link to the Zoom room you’re using for your general office hours should be in the Zoom area of your course. Keep in mind that this may not keep other students from joining your “office hours” while you are working with a student individually.
  • For a private, one-on-one meeting in which students discuss personal academic concerns, make sure to schedule the meeting through your own individual Zoom account (outside Canvas). Then share the meeting's "join URL" with only that student via an email or a Canvas Inbox message. This way, no one else will be able to join the meeting other than you and the intended student.
  • Encourage students to share their screen with you. Screen sharing is possible not just for the instructor in Zoom, but for students too. Help your students navigate towards a screen sharing option so that they can show you their written work on their screen.

Asynchronous, individual instructor-student feedback

Give your students feedback individually using Canvas’s Gradebook/SpeedGrader to give feedback via text or an attached file (e.g., annotated Word doc).

Instructor Presents Information to Class

Instructor delivers material synchronously

Delivering material includes a class lecture, a demonstration, solving a problem, and more. When doing this synchronously, use Zoom.

  • Be flexible with live video. Some students will not have access to fast internet connections, and others may have their schedules disrupted. So record these live sessions, and be flexible about how students can attend and participate.
  • Present content in digestible chunks to make it easier for students to process.
  • Insert some kind of learning activity between the lecture segments.

Instructor delivers material asynchronously

Delivering material includes a class lecture, a demonstration, solving a problem, and more. When doing this asynchronously, we strongly recommend using Kaltura. There are two options available: recording video lectures, and recording audio-only lectures. These recorded lectures, especially if you use recorded video, can achieve a similar effect to synchronous, in-person interactions because hearing your voice and seeing your face can help students maintain a sense of instructor presence.

Recorded video lectures

  • If you want to deliver a lecture coordinated with a slideshow, you can record your screen and audio with Kaltura via Personal Capture or Express Capture. Just remember that if you use Express Capture, you will need to add your slides, etc., after the video is saved.
  • Record in small chunks. Keep your videos short, below 15 minutes in length. If your lecture would normally last longer than 15 minutes, divide it into smaller sections.
  • If you have students watching multiple videos for a single class session equivalent, insert some kind of learning activity between the video segments. This can be as simple as having students briefly derive a potential test question from the video they just watched, post a reaction to your Course’s Discussion forum, or take a brief content quiz in Canvas.

Recorded audio-only lectures

There are two options for creating and sharing audio-only lectures:

General Guidelines

These are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Prepare your students. Introduce online learning tools and practices. Don’t assume all the students are tech savvy, nor that they have the same level of technology.
  • Communicate with your students. Early and frequently. 
  • Identify your new expectations for students. You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members.
  • Consider realistic goals for continuing instruction. What do you think your class can realistically accomplish during this time period? 
  • Focus on learning objectives/outcomes. Even if you need to adjust the specific activities/assignments that contribute to the learning objectives. Keep students focused on the important learning goals/outcomes. 
  • Prioritize and rearrange course activities. Focus on the most significant impact on learning outcomes. If needed, delay the activities where face-to-face interaction is most crucial.
  • Replace physical resources with digital resources. You might want to consider the use of Open Educational Resources. 
  • Use tools and approaches that are familiar to you and your students. 
  • Be ready to handle requests for extension or accommodations equitably.
  • Manage your communications load.
  • Expect the unexpected, no matter how prepared you think you are.

References & Further Information

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