Shifting Your Classes Online
You have three options for shifting your classes temporarily online:
Option 1: Run Your Class Live with Zoom
- Use slides and screen sharing within Zoom to make sure 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. (Look for “Share Screen” at the bottom of your Zoom call.)
- On your first slide, display an agenda at the start of the class session so that students know what to expect of the shared time together.
- Use the chat (bottom of your screen). See In-Meeting Chat.
- 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 Curriculum Coordinator to moderate the chat and make sure important questions and comments are addressed. Even for smaller classes, 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 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.
- If you have a student AV worker in the room that can support the class instruction with technical help, this would also be a good person to respond to troubleshooting tips in the chat.
- Use Zoom Breakout Rooms to help students talk in smaller groups (just as they would do break-out groups in a larger class environment). See Managing Video Breakout Rooms.
- 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.
- Have students write and comment together on a shared Microsoft Office Doc.
- Try using Turning Technologies to collect student responses, and then share results with both in-person and online students.
- Consider making discussion questions available in advance in AIMS, etc. so that students can access the questions if screen sharing does not work. If sharing slides in advance to AIMS, share as PDFs, as students will be able to access the material on their phones.
A Few Troubleshooting Tips
- If your microphone is not working, use the phone number listed in the Zoom invitation when you set up a Zoom call. You can use your phone as the microphone and audio source for your call rather than your computer’s built-in microphone if necessary.
- If your Internet connection is slow or lagging, consider temporarily turning off your video stream and only maintaining the audio stream. Sometimes, running the web camera on your computer will use up the Internet’s bandwidth in a way that might make communication challenging. Turning off the video should improve communication quality and consistency.
- If you have earbuds or a headphone set, wear them! Wearing earbuds or headphones will reduce the amount of noise that your computer will pick up during your quality, which will make it easier for your students to hear you. Similarly, you may want to advise your students to wear earbuds or headphones during the call.
- Advise students to mute their microphones if they are not speaking and unmute the microphones when they wish to speak. Students may be joining Zoom calls from all kinds of different locations, many of which may create background noise that could be distracting. Encourage students to mute themselves if they’re not speaking to minimize unnecessary or distracting background noise. Using the “raise hand” feature or simply seeing the microphone unmuted will give the group a visual cue for when a student wishes to speak.
- Check the “chat” space for student questions and contributions. Some students may not have working microphones and, therefore, may be unable to contribute via voice. The chat room is a good place for students to contribute, ask questions, and be involved.
- Check the Zoom Help Center
- Automatic live captioning is not available in Zoom (automatic captions are visible if you record a Zoom session).
- For students who are blind or have low visibility, narrate the material that you’re displaying visually on the screen. Just as you might read materials aloud in class, read screen material that you share on-screen just in case students are not able to see essential text.
Option 2: Pre-Record Your Lectures
Video: Beth tests out presenting PowerPoint in Zoom
If you are not comfortable presenting live, another good option is to pre-record any lecture material and upload it to AIMS. We recommend that you pre-record lectures using Zoom, as this will generate automatic closed-captions that are needed for accessibility reasons.
The Tech Side
Already an AIMS User? Using AIMS with Zoom makes it easier for students to locate the discussions. We’ve set up a detailed Tech Tutorial based on Academic Technologies recommendations which walks you step-by-step through the process of integrating Zoom into your AIMS site.
If you follow the steps, in a few minutes to a few hours (depending on the length of the video), completed videos will be automatically uploaded to your AIMS course -> Zoom -> “Cloud Recordings” tab.
Basically, you’ll want to open up your PowerPoint, make sure you’re recording to the cloud, and then use Zoom’s “Share Screen” tool.
- Keep videos short and lively. It is often harder to focus on a video than on a person! Check out some tips for creating lively short online videos from online educator Karen Costa.
- Test your microphone to make sure that you have good sound quality. Consider using a headset with an external microphone to capture better audio.
- Consider ADA compliance. Automatic closed-captioning is not perfect. Speak clearly and not too quickly to make the content as accurate as possible. If using a tool other than Zoom for recording your lecture.
- Integrate interaction with the lecture material. You might consider setting up a AIMS forum with some specific questions, using a quiz, or setting up a chat session for a text-based live discussion.
Option 3: Skip the Video
Many online courses do not have a video component at all. If you are not sure you have the right equipment and are uncomfortable with the tech setup, this might be a good option, at least for the short-term.
- Annotate your slideshow with notes and share this with students using AIMS
- Set up a discussion for students in AIMS (Sakai). Use specific, structured questions, and let students know expectations for their responses.
- Share links to outside resources. Encourage students to watch videos, read articles, etc.
- Use Chat to have a live, text-based chat session with students. See our recommendations on Chat.
Set up virtual office hours to meet with students using your webcam, share your computer screen or collaborate using Zoom’s whiteboard feature. If you are more comfortable, you can also give students your phone number to call.
- Keep the link to the Zoom room you’re using for your students in a central place on your course AIMS site. The main factor to consider when holding office hours or conferences with students via Zoom is your accessibility as an instructor. Make sure they know how to find your “office” (just as you might offer them directions to your office on-campus).
- 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.
Remixed By: Michael Wright Director, Academic Technology and Sharon Combs-Eisenbarth LMS Admin and Web Master
Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Adapted from “Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption, for SIS and PWR.” Feel free to remix for your own institutional contexts!