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Center for Teaching and Learning
How do we create/administer exams/quizzes, and minimize cheating, when we can’t proctor students?

This comes down to what you feel comfortable with. The Naval Academy can offer tools such as Respondus Lockdown browser, but that can’t stop students from using other devices or talking with each other. Spend some time thinking about what you are really trying to get at when assessing the student work and, perhaps, design an assignment or test that gets at that directly. Some ideas include:

  • Make your test open everything, but set a time limit (can be done in Blackboard) and make the test too long to rely on looking things up.
  • Give oral exams or have students justify why they gave the answer they did or the method they choose and have the grade be some combination of correct solution and correct reasoning.
  • Give an exam where you ask students to work together.

There is no simple answer to this and it may not be possible to accomplish exactly what you’ve done in the past. Try something new and learn from it. Come talk to us at CTL for help and ideas!

Academic Integrity Online

Is it okay for me to change the grading/assignment policies in my course policy mid-way through the semester?

It is not reasonable for anyone to expect the semester is somehow going to work the same way things have always worked. Feel free to be as flexible as you need to. In fact, flex your flexibility and creativity muscles and try things that have never been thought of before. Find something that works, even if it’s never been done before! But, remember to be especially clear to your students about what expectations are – both your expectations of them and what they can expect of you. The only way any plan will be successful is when everyone involved understands what needs to happen.

What are ways to hold a discussion-based class using online tools?

There is no one answer to this – it depends on what both you and your students are comfortable with. One way is to hold a group video class using software like Google Hangouts Meets. You could also make use of Discussion Boards, which are available on Blackboard (see this tutorial for help getting started). Ask around and see how other people plan on holding discussions for their classes. Right now everyone is happy to share anything they’ve figured out or thought of, so take advantage of that!

Discussion Board Survival Tips!

How do we create an interactive learning environment while teaching remotely?

You may have to think differently about what ‘interactive learning’ looks like. Do you want to hold a discussion? Try Google Hangouts Meets or using a discussion board. Do you want students to work in small groups? Perhaps facilitate ways from them to connect together online. Do you want students to engage with material you are presenting? Perhaps use some of the Panopto tools that allow you to integrate questions into the lectures and presentation where students have to answer questions before continuing the video. This is a really tough question and the need for creativity and trying new things is essential for solving it. And share with others as you overcome a challenge or find a way that doesn’t work! For help in getting started with things designed to increase online collaborative learning, see this handout.

How can students interact with the online class if they are in a room with other people?

This will be an issue for many students. Headphones can help, but we will all need to be understanding of the external distractions students will inevitably have to deal with. If it is a real problem, consider alternatives to verbal participation. Written responses or chatroom environments may work better for some people. To be successful in this new environment, we need to accept that it will not be possible to re-create our classrooms just using different technology. We need to find different ways to accomplish the learning goals for our students.

What ways can I provide feedback on student work without having to print and scan everything?

There are comment features on both Blackboard (help can be found here) and Google Classroom that allow you to provide feedback on electronically submitted work. MS Word and Adobe Acrobat allow comments to be added directly to documents. If you have a tablet PC or iPad you can write directly on electronic files and save with your notes. Another innovative solution is to record video of the document and audio of your comments. The theme here continues – be creative! For some ideas, see this handout.

How can we best move forward with the semester when it has been “compromised?”

We have to accept the fact that the semester will not finish in the way it began. What we’ve been doing isn’t going to keep working, so we need to ditch the guidelines that no longer work and develop new ones. Maybe change your grading plan (see the answer to Is it okay for me to change the grading/assignment policies in my course policy mid-way through the semester?) or the assignments you planned for the semester. Take some time to evaluate what you really want your students to have when they leave your course or work with your students to see what really needs to be accomplished and focus on that. The best way to move forward is to change from thinking of this as a ‘damaged’ semester to thinking of it as a playground to explore the possible.

How do we continue to support those midshipmen that rely more on the faculty to be successful if we can’t meet in person for EI?

While we can’t hold in-person EI sessions, it is still possible to connect with students one-on-one. Google Hangouts Meet works with only two people as well as for an entire class and using your phone as a phone can still be done. You could have students send you work by email and give feedback by marking the document up or making comments and sending that back. If several students are struggling with the same thing, make a short video just on that (using Panopto, for example) and share it with the class – not only can several students get that help, but the help is available for them whenever they need a refresher. And the best way for all of us and our students to get through this drastic change is through extensive and clear communication. You should feel free to reach out to students as much as needed.

I’ve never created an online exam or assignment! How do I get help?

Here is a Blackboard tutorial that includes a section on creating exams/quizzes within the Blackboard LMS. The tutorial includes creating assignments within the Assignment Tool and how to create tests within the Assessment module. And, as always, feel free to stop by or reach out to the CTL for individual help!

Can I include attachments in the Google Hangouts Meet invitation?

Yes! When you create the invitation you can provide comments and add attachments in the ‘Add description’ box. See this video tutorial for starting a Google Hangouts Meet meeting via Google Calendar.

How do students access attachments in Google Hangouts Meet once the session has started?

During the session, there is a ‘Meeting details’ button in the lower bar with an up arrow. If the participant clicks on this button there are the ‘Details’ of the meeting and another tab labeled ‘Attachments’. Any attachments included in the original meeting invitation can be accessed during the meeting from this tab. See this video tutorial for using Google Hangouts Meet.

What is the absolute simplest (bare-bones) configuration to use Google Hangouts Meet to teach a class?

Invite your students to the meeting through Google Calendar and use the audio and video feature to see and talk with your students. You can use the laptop camera or web cam to show paper or handwriting.

Can we show a video to the class through the Google Hangouts Meet session or should students view the video offline?

It would be best to have the students watch the video prior to ‘class’ or to have them switch to watch the movie on their own browser (rather than displaying it on the host computer and video it to all participants). This will minimize issues with lags in viewing.

What should students do if they experience a drop-out during a session?

Let your students know that if they get bumped out of the session they can just click on the link and rejoin.

Does Google have the capacity (bandwidth, in particular) for supporting all the universities shifting to online teaching right now? What should I do if the connection is too poor or slow to be effective?

We will see. We are not the first university to shift to using the video conferencing approach to teaching and (so far!) there have been no large complaints about insufficient bandwidth. Fingers-crossed everything works for us!

However, we have all experienced that class where we were expecting to use the projector or watch a video and things didn’t go as planned. So, it is never a bad idea to have a back-up plan. This will be a trial-and-error process, but USNA faculty have shown an amazing ability to make things work and this will just be a more challenging version of the same!

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