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Center for Teaching and Learning

Class organization/structure

  • Disagreement on whether asynchronous or synchronous approach is best
  • Many in support of a mixed (asynchronous/synchronous) method
  • Keep it Simple (Stupid)
  • Faculty suggestions for student engagement in online classes
  • Checking in on students/connecting with how they are doing  is highly recommended
  • Faculty emphasize the general importance of consistency in this environment
  • A TON of great faculty advice
  • And many examples of ways to run class!
Faculty General Advice
  1. Please level the field and consider making most of your assessment methods open book/notes/web.
  2. While it has been time-consuming and seemingly Sisyphean at times, in the long run I'll be glad that I embraced some of the actual online tools and systems, instead of just buying a microphone, webcam and essentially broadcasting myself as some have done.
  3. reduce value of the exams and do more frequent smaller quizzes
  4. move away from an assessment mindset.
  5. Have a plan C to your plans A and B. Always assume something will fail, crash, etc.
  6. Expect to cover less material
  7. Keep videos short - attention spans of students watching videos is limited. I try for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Cross talk with other faculty is very helpful.
  9. I think many faculty are providing way too much on-line information. I think less is better.
  10. Don't trust students to not collaborate or not cheat. Put extra effort in designing exams to prevent this.
  11. More challenging than I would have thought - much more preparation is needed.
  12. I'm still tracking all grades on a paper gradebook because the various assignments come in to Google Classroom in different formats, which sometimes make the students' work difficult to track. I hard copy of things makes me feel more secure. 
  13. Lower your expectations for yourself and for your students. 2.  My students appreciate videos of me giving my lecture by pointing to my notes with a pencil as I talk.
  14. Generally: keep a good mix of different approaches
  15. Keep lectures short and focused , Include activities that engage students and allow them to participate during class, Diversify your teaching techniques to engage different learning styles
  16. As a method of procedure, make online notes available to the students. These are not always easy to generate.  Other tips:  stretch exercise routine.
  17. Zoom coffee breaks with your friends are so helpful for morale, problem solving, and sanity preservation
  18. Slow down and back off on material. I will not be covering everything that would have been covered originally.
  19. If faculty have concerns over letter grade vs P/F grading these comments/insinuations need to be kept from students.
  20. tip: be adaptable and willing to change as hurdles arise. Don't plan on sticking to your plan.
  21. Too many exams on one day
  22. Do not increase the level of difficulty of tests in order to compensate for the likelihood that some/many students will cheat. This put the honest students in an impossible bind ... they won't cheat and are therefore significantly disadvantaged. 
  23. Long engineering problems should be broken up into smaller "standalone" segments to avoid the "error carried forward" issue that can be difficult to sort out in an online testing environment.
  24. You must find the technique that you feel the most comfortable otherwise it is painful to do it.
  25. Breaking apart large calculation questions into multiple parts for an online format makes grading the exam much easier.
  26. I think that flexibility, for me, has been vital. Also, I think the use of narrated notetaking or lecturing has been really useful for me. Most of my mids really liked it because they were able to pause or rewind to catch what they missed.
  27. Panopto has worked really well along with Blackboard, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.
  28. Using Blackboard, Panopto, Hangouts consistently through all the courses solves 90% of the challenges.
  29. I was just reminded by a colleague that Adobe Acrobat has the "sticky note" tool, which allows me to give feedback when grading electronically submitted .pdf
  30. For those who are uploading video lessons, I've found it helpful to offer multiple platforms for students to view the videos as several students mentioned that Blackboard can be extremely slow at times. It is not too much extra work for me to also upload the video to Google Classroom and YouTube, and I can now boast my own YouTube channel :).
  31. Emailing out a password protect pdf exam and giving the password at the beginning of class seemed to be a good way to administer the exam.
  32. scanning, attendance tracker, camera hooked up to laptop to show notes, zoom, breakout rooms, share screen to show slides or debug code.
  33. Understand the challenges facing mids sitting at a computer for 4-6 hrs a day.
Faculty Recommendations for Class Structure
  1. Recording voice over of shared screens worked best on Zoom.
  2. The following system we have found to work well (and our students have commented favorably on it): We prerecord lectures using Panopto and host them to Blackboard the day before that lesson appears on the syllabus.  Accompanying the video lecture, we also post the lecture slides and notes handouts to Blackboard that we would normally have distributed in class.  To take "attendance" our students are required to answer about 5-6 short questions related to the lecture in the Blackboard test environment.  Completion of those assignment questions (by the end of the day of the lesson) counts as their attendance.  Finally, we hold a non-mandatory Google Hangout session during our normal class time to answer questions and/or provide extra help to anyone requesting it.
  3. Used a combination of in-class multiple choice and take-home free response (open book open note due by end of following day). Used Blackboard for both (upload of phone pic for free-response part).  In total, this was similar in size and scope to the previous in-class exams that took place prior to spring break.
  4. Created a different set of assignments that allowed for individual contributions to a final project that could be accomplished online. Yet, the goals stayed close to the main course objectives - the new assignment still led toward accomplishing the course objectives determined at the beginning of the semester.
  5. I've had to develop a few more in-class exercises, but overall it has gone really well.
  6. The online format has enabled me to bring in cool people to make cameo appearances such as the actual authors of assigned textbooks.
  7. Split time between on-camera (Zoom) meetings and virtual meetings via collaborative writing (Google Doc).
  8. I like working with google docs in class so we can all share while interacting on zoom. I like that I put assignments up and they get them done by a certain deadline.... I've made better "one stop shopping" for the info and work they need, at the expense of the variety of materials I usually develop. I'd say PPT sucks (worse than usual) for video classes, it's fine for asynchronic work.
  9. I now work with less than 5% of the white board space than is available in a classroom at school so I have learned to write more efficiently.
  10. I vary between showing them and talking about (on Google Hangouts) a completely filled out set of notes that they can then copy by hand to get the benefit of listening and working through an example. Sometimes I show the equation and have them solve for the answers and answer in the chat.
  11. My students have responded very favorably to my online delivery of content. At the start of every class, we all 'meet' via Google Hangouts and I take attendance. Then, I have them all start watching a pre-recorded lecture on Panopto/Blackboard that is 25-30 minutes in length. As students have questions, I have them type them into the chat feature of Google Hangouts, and I address their questions in real time. Then, after they've finished the recording, I have them let me know via the chat feature. Once the majority of the class has finished the lecture, we all regroup via Hangouts and I go over any questions students had, as well as some other talking points. The students have told me that my class feels very much like the in person classes at the Academy, which is great feedback. I also like this approach because I am checking in with them at least 4X a week (MWF recitation, R lab).
  12. Linking a Google Form in the YouTube description of a video lecture posted there is a nice way for students to test their comprehension while providing you documentation that they at least visited the page for the video and some measure of how well they understood it. Chapter markers in videos can be made simply by typing in the time stamp into the YouTube description.  This helps students who review recorded lectures for specific points.
  13. I used Zoom's breakout rooms for my exam. You can put each student in their own room, and have them share their screen during the duration of the timed exam. This lets you see what they are doing (if you wish), but it encourages honesty since their screen is visible if the instructor joins their breakout. I hopped around the rooms a couple times, and the students were comfortable asking me questions since it was just me and them alone in each room.
  14. Video recording my lectures is helpful for the students, as they were accustomed to seeing-hearing me lecture for the whole term
  15. Some sections feel almost asynchronous even when teaching synchronously because the class only participates when called on by name.
  16. I've just embraced online learning, so we made memes in response to the readings, did email discussion, etc.
  17. I found a livable combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods worked well for both intro and elective courses. The intro (Plebe) course required far more creative effort to measure in real time whether students were "getting" material.  EI via Google Hangouts has been productive.  In the event that a student did not have an external webcam to display work, I created a Google doc and typed interactively with the student in EI.  This created a living document that the student could download and review later.
  18. Yes we use PowerPoint to record lectures with voice over to cut down on the burden of teachers trying to not overwhelm the teachers and allow the students to take the lecture at their own pace
  19. I prerecord an imovie voice over of the class notes for each lecture (sometimes with animations) and post the movies on my website. Students review the notes and movie ahead of class. I am maintaining our regular class schedule via Google Hangouts and I have set up a webcam. During class time I review the class notes, field questions, review HW and quizzes etc. Students continue to use the individual google folders I set up to turn in HW, quizzes and tests. I download their work, create a pdf, comment on and grade their work, and then upload the graded pdf to their google folder. It is very time consuming
  20. As far as attendance goes, I have created daily attendance checks with 4 questions that come directly from the notes which the students are required to answer and this has no affect on their grade (other than in the past if they did poorly students would not be marked present due to the fact that I had several students filling out the attendance check who had never watched the videos because they chose answers that were not even methods used within the subject domain). This attendance check allows the students to confirm that they got the main point of the lecture and allows me to see what students are understanding and what they are not.
  21. Accountability, standards (instructor in uniform), have students share how they are doing and any "good/gratitude" thoughts at the beginning of the class. Cameras on (google grid) ability to see one another makes it more classroom like. Students continued to conduct presentations in pairs, which has them collaborate and talk to one another prior to the class. Timed open book quizzes on blackboard.
  22. I teach mathematics. For mathematics to be accessible online I believe we need to teach our students to learn to read mathematics. For the online teaching of mathematics to be successful, our students need to have spent time on their own on the mathematics that we will be introducing during each synchronous session. Unfortunately, to be able to read mathematics is not currently a primary goal in how we teach core mathematics courses, and in particular it is something that is NOT emphasized in the way the Academic Center, MGSP or MathLab interact with our students who need assistance. So, I believe teaching to read is the biggest change we need to introduce in our online teaching at the Naval Academy. That of course requires that we also give adequate time to our students to read outside the class hours. 
  23. I have one student with unreliable internet so I was concerned about doing a strictly timed multiple choice using blackboard or one of the other platforms. For that reason I instead transmitted the multiple choice an encrypted pdf that the students could download in advance. That way the only thing they need to receive or transmit in real time was their letter answers. Worse case my student with weak internet could just text me his answers.
  24. My computer kept shutting down when I tried to meet with entire classes virtually. I know have small group discussions (max 7 students) & works fine (though extra time for me).
  25. Synchronous plus they are writing solutions on paper and scanning.
  26. whiteboard only style videos are the way to go. My students have no need to see my face.
  27. I run off of two laptops and one phone. Work laptop run my main page and camera on me, my personal laptop runs my webcam and my phone runs sound and through it to my headphones.  The first few times, give yourself plenty of time to set up and sign in.  Have only one Hangout for two lecture periods.  Just as you would stay in Mi-101 and the second section would come in the next period, keep in the same Hangout, let one section leave and the other come in.  I have it open from 0930-1430 on Friday during my 'lab' time.
  28. I'm using Google meet to teach the lecture (as if we are in the classroom) and prepare presentations to share with the class along with recorded session for solving problems.
  29. Just the standard... zoom, screen share, breakout rooms, recording, using a cell phone balanced on a tea cup to project notes and drawings, more EI via zoom, overleaf for real-time notes, working together with colleagues, sharing all errors and successes
  30. I have been happy getting mini essays, based on targeted questions I ask about the reading, emailed every class day. I then write and email my lectures
  31. I enjoy using notability to deploy my lectures
Asynchronous Approach Best
  1. I believe that asynchronous instruction is far better for writing-intensive classes, particularly if students are required to engage in regular (short!) writing exercises in order to maintain their involvement with the class.
  2. Students prefer asynchronous format.
  3. I've had much more success with asynchronous classes than synchronous classes.
  4. Asynchronous delivery is best for a math course. Students can watch the lesson when they are ready to learn.  If they are confused, then they can use the regular class time as an optional EI session with me that does not interfere with other classes.
  5. Go asynchronous. My students in Hawaii are struggling more than necessary because some faculty are forcing them to come to class in the middle of the night.
  6. My one experience with synchronous teaching was dreadful.
  7. Seems that the students do better when they can go at their own pace. I let them review material and ask me questions after we have short talks about the material.
  8. I'm doing asynchronous learning and it has been going really well. Results from a brief survey that I passed out indicate my students reported little to no disruption to their learning environment.  One expressed a desire to be back on the Yard, which I concur with. 
  9. Asynchronous is the preferred teaching and learning method.
  10. Meeting asynchronous has advantage, however the pitfalls are maintaining accountability.
  11. Students very much value class materials with audio narration and instructor notes that they can pause and rewind to study and take notes. In synchronous remote sessions the Instructor must make it a deliberate point to pause often (for a duration that is longer than live in the classroom and borders on uncomfortable) to encourage and allow remote participants to formulate questions or discussion points. 
Synchronous Approach Best
  1. The students like more synchronous content than I was giving them at first.
  2. My students have responded well to, and prefer, synchronous video meetings.
  3. I meet synchronously for 10-40 minutes each time to check in on the mids.
  4. Have found that there is great value in being present and teaching synchronously.
  5. Live virtual classrooms are still effective, even without a blackboard. Recorded lectures are helpful, but not a replacement.  Attendance can be completed in live sessions.
  6. I am teaching synchronously because that is what my students requested when I asked them how to proceed with remote teaching I highly recommend synchronous learning and instruction.
  7. I do like teaching synchronously with Zoom. I have tried to keep my normal operating environment, but I ask a bunch of questions to my MIDN to know where they are at. Given this, though, I am performing at a slightly slower rate.
  8. Asynchronous learning is not helping the Mid's maintain a balanced schedule. Teach on time.
Mixed (asynchronous/synchronous) Approach Best
  1. I like synchronous check-in (and I think they do too), and I think they like asynchronous content.
  2. I think it is important that we continue to connect with our students when scheduled. I use Google Meet for each class and I believe this more effective than just leaving recorded or other online material for the students - though this is also important.
  3. I have found that recorded lectures combined with live discussion video chats work relatively well for my Political Science classes, though I've had to make substantial changes in the nature of assignments for the midshipmen and in the scope of the material we can cover in this new online format.
  4. Students prefer asynchronous lectures because they have so many tasks to manage. It is not possible to recreate classroom discussion and partnered problem solving online, so instead I am having optional review sessions during class time, with recorded asynchronous lectures.
  5. Also, we are doing lecture videos for the MIDN to watch on their time and working examples in class which seems to help with the MIDNs understanding of the material because they can go back to review the material they are confused about.
  6. Hold live class each day. Provide MSC-taped video lessons for lectures, go over problems and answer questions for the remainder of the period.  Hold EI as requested via Google Meets.  Shortened the timeframe for assignments due to the increased time available to mids.
  7. Combination of asynchronous/synchronous content seems to work well. Synchronous work requires significant effort to ensure students are engaged.
  8. I find that a combination of asynchronous (recorded lectures) and synchronous classes works well. I use live class time to review concepts, to explain some of the more difficult or interesting concepts, and for questions.
  9. I took a quick poll after the first week of online teaching for an assessment of how they were feeling. Questions included things like is the workload manageable, is the format (modules set up by date) understandable, are the discussion and classwork questions engaging, and did they prefer sync or async.  All the results were very positive, so I felt confident about my plan of action going forward.  The students were 50-50 on live versus async classes, so I added exactly half the classes live in an attempt to please everyone.
  10. Regular synchronous check-ins are helpful.
  1. Tips: Keep it simple, and when possible, use standard tools/platforms that midshipmen (and faculty) are familiar with.
  2. keep it simple; this was a rough situation; trying to make it perfect won't help the students.
  3. I think there is value in keeping things simple. I use recordings on PowerPoint lectures and Google Meet for class wide review and EI. Assignments, quizzes and tests are all through Blackboard. Outside of the Respondus Lockdown Browser, there are no additional platforms or formats that I expect them to be able to use. My students have been appreciative of this.
  4. Just the realization that simpler is better and less is more
  5. Just try to be simple in your explanations
  6. I think keeping it as simple and close to the usual class as possible is best.
  7. Keeping it simple and straight forward has worked really well. If anything I have pulled back about 5-10% on what I'm asking for reading to account for the administrative overhead of getting through an academic day of 5-6 online classes.
Engagement/Student Interactions
  1. Randomly asking Midshipmen to response to questions is a good way to keep engagement.
  2. I am teaching students to use the new technology in order to have more peer-to-peer interaction, e.g., assigning review problems to be posted to discussion boards. In a more advanced class, students are exporting narrated PowerPoint slides to videos for class presentations. I am also asking students to submit questions on assigned readings, and then compiling a list of answers to post in Blackboard.
  3. I utilize blackboard for exams to ease my grading burden and provide a sole, linked, established platform for materials, testing, and discussion posts. I have added discussion board posts for all my sections, which has given me insight on where individuals and the class are that I cannot get in the synchronous classes.  I do hold synchronous for each section 3 x a week, which helps give me confidence they are receiving the material and are engaged. 
  4. To keep the synchronous sessions lively, send out one or more 6-minute prerecorded lectures so the class time can be devoted to midshipmen speaking.
  5. Student interaction is a little more difficult to inspire in an online environment. So, I have to concentrate on keeping everyone involved.
  6. For writing intensive classes: students are required to engage in regular (short!) writing exercises in order to maintain their involvement with the class.
  7. Having students commit to writing 1 sentence about what they learned along with questions or feedback after every single asynchronous class has been an invaluable way to feel connected to where every student is at. I believe I've been able to draw students back in who were starting to fall behind and keep students engaged in the material by course-correcting early and often and making them feel involved in the process.
  8. Require original writing, and make it an interactive affair, requiring draft submissions. A robust use of materials in a supplements areas accessible in BB is beneficial. As well, making yourself available every day via email or google meets, and announcing that is essential in a distance learning environment.
  9. If lecturing synchronously, embed some self-assessment measures (such as clickers) to keep the students involved and to show them (and you) if they are really "getting" what you teach. Allow for questions during your lecture time and not just relying on comments (which are hard to see when your whole screen is taken up with the presentation)
Faculty/Student Connections
  1. Keep checking in on students, both their work and personally. They won't always share they are struggling with technology or home life until it is too late.
  2. Seriously take into account these circumstances when evaluating, and let your students know you are doing so. I found this cultivates trust, not slacking on work.
  3. Increasing contact hours seems to have good results.
  4. A big one: students are asking for much more EI in the Zoom format.
  5. Getting feedback from students on a regular basis has helped me stay connected to my students and change course on aspects of the class that weren't working. Plus, they know that I care and am trying to help, which helps morale.
  6. Despite the fact that I've always run EI as prescheduled meetings, something about being online has made students scared/unwilling/or turned off from it. I've switched to offering drop-in hangouts meet office hours and they are more willing to use that to ask questions.
  7. Should check in often on students.
  8. I just try to interact as much as I can.
  9. Stay in contact--does not need to individual, but email the class a couple of times of week with clarifying messages and supportive ones.
  10. Finally, I have made myself available via Google Hangouts from 1130-1230 MWF. This is reminiscent of traditional office hours at other colleges/universities. Sometimes students drop in, sometimes they don't. Either way, I think the students appreciate my willingness to adapt my instruction and availability.
  11. We all do 20 push-ups at the start of every class to get the blood going. It works!
  12. Availability and reassurance for the students is key.
  13. No additional tips but feel removed from my students.... I can't tell how much they are learning or not, despite meeting with them online. They are much more quiet online.
  1. I have received positive feedback from my students about being consistent each week. Every week the class and assignments will look the same and be due at the same time and they say it has made it easier for them to follow along and have a clear understanding of what is due when.
  2. Based on student feedback, it's important to have a consistent presentation. I'm sticking with the format (Google Classroom), timing, policies, etc. I adopted at the start of online teaching even though there may be other resources available (e.g., Blackboard, Respondus browser) that could make some aspects of testing easier.
  3. Going forward, I think the academy should develop an online learning SOP that gets everyone on the same sheet of music and provides a more uniformed learning standard.
  4. I have college kids at home so that's given me some added perspective. Anything we can do to streamline the number of different platforms being used in each course and by all courses would go a long ways to helping the students stay organized.  I have found Google Classroom very good and I suspect it will only get better after Google engineers address lessons learned from this crisis.
  5. There is not enough top down guidance in the form of standardized attendance and video platforms. I understand this is an academic institution and instructors need the freedom to teach as they see fit. However, requiring the students to submit accountability six different ways, use multiple online video services (Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc) puts an undue burden on the student to make these requirements happen. We have the google suites platform, we have blackboard, WebAssign, etc, we don't need to shy away from these and reinvent the wheel.
  6. attempt to limit the amount of online tools that you're using
  7. Consistency, clear expectations, reminders.
  8. Feedback from students indicates they would prefer a more consistent format for online instruction.
  9. Yes - The Mid's need a standard. Google Suite (Google Meet) is the system of record.  Stop having the Mid's use several different platforms. 
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