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Academic Continuity through eLearning
As of Thursday March 12, Grand Valley faculty have been asked to transition their Winter 2020 courses to an online, remotely taught format. This page will guide you through the decisions involved in this transition, and will provide you key resources for completing your semester.
Things to Consider
Moving your course online involves more than choosing the right technology tools. Start thinking through these questions:
- Modify your expectations for the remainder of the semester. Given your course objectives, content, and assignments—what are the essentials that you need to keep? What can you let go of to help ease the transition?
- For the assessments that you plan to keep, think about alternatives. Can a final exam be open book, turn into a final project, a series of low stakes assessments, a video presentation, paper, or problem-based evaluation? Can students give a presentation by recording a video?
- If participation and attendance are part of your course, what will that look like when your course no longer meets face-to-face? For example, can you use discussion boards as a way to maintain community AND encourage students to be present and engaged?
- How can you finish your semester with flexibility and grace? Are there due dates or policies that you can relax to accommodate student anxiety?
Resources for Students
- "What to know if your course temporarily moves online" (a handout for students)
- "Tips for Learning During Disruption"
- "Tips for Online Learning" (from GVSU's Knowledge Market)
We understand that for many faculty, moving to remote teaching will involve pushing personal comfort levels in a very limited amount of time. Consider the suggestions in this list as a baseline for where to start.
- Survey your students on key information that will affect the pedagogical choices you make. Do they have access to a computer wherever they may be? Do they have reliable high speed internet access? Do they have access to a webcam and microphone? Do they have access to their textbook or other physical course materials?
- Revise your syllabus to reflect any changes you're making to your course structure and assessment plans.
- Choose a method for communicating with students. Communicate early and often, be sure to be present and "visable" online. Download a copy of your students' email addresses from the Blackboard gradebook (student usernames + @mail.gvsu.edu) or GVSU Banner. Use Blackboard's announcements and email tools to easily message all students.
- Use your Blackboard course site to provide students access to important course documents and resources, like your syllabus.
- Consider using Blackboard Collaborate videoconferencing to hold LIVE meetings and online office hours with students.
- Allow students to submit written assignments using Blackboard's assignment tool.
- Deliver direct instruction to your students by taking your lecture notes or PowerPoint files and posting them in Blackboard.
Grand Valley offers a wide variety of tools and resources for online teaching. The suggestions in this list are designed to take the quality of your students' experience to the next level by drawing on the strengths of digital tools.
- Consider using Blackboard's discussion boards as a way to maintain community and encourage student engagement.
- Use Blackboard to deliver online quizzes or tests to assess student learning. Even if they don't figure into a student's grades, quizzes can be a great way for them to receive formative feedback about how well they're mastering course content.
- Increase your options for delivering content - instead of posting PowerPoint files or lecture notes, use Panopto Video to record yourself narrating your lectures.
- Use Blackboard's Grade Center to make sure students have access to their current grades.
- Ensure that your learning materials and experiences are accessible to all students.
- Spend some time organizing your Blackboard site so that students don't struggle to find what they're looking for.
Some of these suggestions may take more planning and development than you want to invest right now. As time allows, though, we encourage you to explore them. Our eLearning team staff is more than happy to help you put them into practice.
- Have students submit videos as assignments with Panopto.
- Use Blackboard's private journal or blog tools as creative alternative assessments.
- If you're creating Panopto videos for your students, break them into separate videos of 5 to 10 minutes each.
- Consider providing voice or video feedback on your students assignments through the Blackboard assignment tool.
- Use Blackboard's groups tool to hold small group discussions and allow students to submit group assignments.
- Consider creating brief "weekly videos" using Panopto as a way to maintain a sense of community and convey information to your students.
- Use a tool like FlipGrid to allow students to conduct video-based discussions—a great way to build community and work against feelings of isolation.
- Take a moment to learn about alternate grading systems and how they could mediate the stress and chaos of the coronavirus crisis.
Special Instructional Needs
What about hand written assignments?
If you're in a discipline where students complete written work on paper that you then collect, you can leverage the power of their smartphone.
Video instructions for submitting written homework by email:
What about labs and experiments?
Some courses, such as those in the sciences, depend far more heavily on physical learning experiences that can't be as quickly translated to an online format. The following resources are a few places to begin.
- Thoughts about remote lab activities and experiences (from Dartmouth)
- Running lab activities (from IU)
- How to Quickly (and Safely) Move a Lab Course Online (from Heather R. Taft)
What about dance or other movement-based courses?
- Resources for moving dance-based pedagogy online (from Dance Studies Association)
What about foreign language courses?
What about media production courses?
Film, video, and audio production courses usually require special hardware and software that many students don't have outside of a campus computer lab. The following links have ideas about how to handle these challenges:
What about music courses?
- Commentary and resources about music learning and teaching online
- Christopher Bill's guide to remote music education
- Resources for online music courses
- Teaching Music Courses and Lessons, from Texas Tech University
- Gwen Walker's 21 Tips for Voice Teachers Teaching Online
- Ideas to Deal with Coronavirus and Distance Learning for Ensembles (and Conducting Class), from the College Band Directors National Association)
So what about copyright?
Teaching and learning take place against the broader backdrop of intellectual property and copyright laws. The rapid transition to remote instruction raises a number of questions about how copyright regulations apply. The links below provide some general guidance on copyright policies during times of crisis instruction.
- Copyright Basics, with reference to COVID-19. From the Grand Valley State University Scholarly Communications librarians.
- A Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research.
"It is evident that making materials available and accessible to students in this time of crisis will almost always be a fair use. As long as we are being thoughtful in our analysis and limiting our activities to the specific needs of our patrons during this time of crisis, copyright law supports our uses. The fair use doctrine accommodates the flexibility required by our shared public health crisis, enabling society to function and progress while protecting human life and safety."
—Public Statement of almost 200 Library Copyright Specialists
Credits and Acknowledgements
"e-learning" icon by Adrien Coquet from the Noun Project
"training" icon by Adrien Coquet from the Noun Project