How to Teach Anywhere
Transitioning an on-ground course to an online course
A variety of circumstances might require you to temporarily deliver your class online with minimal notice, such as an infectious disease outbreak, a family emergency requiring your presence elsewhere, or a natural disaster.
This website provides suggested actions to implement when making the shift from teaching in a classroom to teaching anywhere.
Support is also available for faculty and instructors on any part of the process of maintaining instructional excellence while migrating elements of a course online.
Visit the OBU Technology Tutorials and Guides page
for additional resources and walkthroughs of available OBU platforms.
In the event that on-campus, face-to-face teaching is limited, instructors need to be prepared for alternative methods of course delivery.
- Begin preparation in advance: Be clear and concise with students in advance of specific emergencies. Let students know ahead of time what the plan will be in the event that the campus is closed. Consider alternative methods for course delivery and assessment.
- Stay informed about the event: For COVID-19, stay informed using the OBU COVID-19 Information page.
- Communicate early and often: Have a consistent communication strategy to avoid confusion. Use the Canvas Inbox tool and Announcements to help students find the materials they need.
- Consider realistic goals for teaching from anywhere: As you think about continuing instruction online, consider what you think you can realistically accomplish. Do you think you can maintain your original syllabus and schedule? Do you hope students will keep up with the reading? Will you have some assignments to add structure and accountability? How will you keep them engaged with the course content?
- Review your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities during the disruption — providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? Give yourself flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than initially planned.
- Review your syllabus for points that must change: Make sure that your syllabus is on Canvas and update it with course changes as needed. Communicate if there have been changes to assignments, due dates, and/or course policies.
- Reset 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.
- Create a more detailed communications plan: Once you have details about changes in the class, communicate them to students, along with how and when they can contact you (email, online office hours, etc.). Students will have questions, so let them know how and when they can expect to receive a reply from you.
Assess and plan
To move a course online, first consider your facility with the relevant instructional technologies, the structure of your course, the particular needs of your students, the requirements of your material or your discipline, the assignments and assessments typically used in the course, and the limitations caused by timelines and scalability. Above all, because you are working with unexpected limitations, we advise you to observe (and encourage your students to observe) reasonable expectations for success.
|Course Lectures||Use various methods to deliver content:
• Record lecture and post in Canvas
• Increase reading (make sure it is free and accessible to all students)
• Link to already recorded media
|Class Interactions/Participation||Use the Discussion tool to promote dialogue between students.|
|Exams/Quizzes||Create online exams/quizzes which are modified in light of online delivery.|
|Papers||Move submissions to Canvas|
|Presentations/Performances||Students record presentations/performances and upload to Canvas.|
|Labs||Link to online video demonstrations and simulations. Adjust schedule to push in-class activities to later in the semester.|
|Require weekly activities (discussions, quizzes, etc…) to keep students engaged and to monitor attendance. These can be graded or un-graded activities, but they should be required.|
Foster communication and collaboration among students
Keeping in touch with students is vital during any changes to your class(es) — whether a viral outbreak like COVID-19, a planned absence on your part, or a crisis impacting all or part of campus. You'll want to let students know about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations.
Keep these principles in mind:
- Use asynchronous tools when possible: Having students participate in live Canvas Conference conversations can be useful, but scheduling can be a problem, and only a few students will actively participate (just like in your classroom). In such cases, using asynchronous tools like Canvas Discussions allows students to participate on their own schedules. In addition, bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are far lower than for live video tools.
- Set expectations: Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often. Tell students both how often you expect them to check their email, and how quickly they can expect your response. Let them know, too, if you are using the Canvas Inbox tool, since they may need to update their notification preferences.
- Manage your communications load: You will likely receive some individual requests for information that could be useful to all your students, so consider keeping track of frequently asked questions and sending those replies out to everyone. This way, students know they might get a group reply in a day versus a personal reply within an hour. Also, consider creating an information page in Canvas, and then encourage students to check there first for answers before emailing you.
- Build in simple accountability: Find ways to make sure students are accountable for the work they do in any online discussions or collaborations. Assigning points for online discussion posts can be tedious, so some instructors ask for reflective statements where students detail their contributions and reflect on what they learned from the conversation.
- Balance newness and need: As with any changed activities, you will need to balance the needs and benefits of online communication and collaboration with the additional effort it will require on everyone’s part. Learning new technologies and procedures might be counterproductive, particularly in the short term, unless there is a clear benefit.
Seat time equivalents
Moving course delivery to the online environment requires adjusting student learning exercises to compensate for missed ground engagement. The HLC requires that online courses are equivalent to ground delivered courses, so all missing seat time needs to be made up through other methods. For example, a 3-hour ground course will need an additional 3 hours equivalent of coursework added per week when transitioned online. This can include but is not limited to watching recorded lectures/media, increased readings, and additional assignments such as discussion boards, papers, and exams. Be mindful to consider increased preparation and research time for additional tasks being required (an additional exam may only take 30 minutes, but preparation time may take 3 hours). For help calculating seat time equivalents, consult the coursework calculator.
If you feel that video is the most appropriate tool for your instruction, instructors have the following options:
- Add video lectures directly into Canvas using the Canvas recording feature.
- Record Lectures into existing PowerPoint presentations to post into Canvas.
- Zoom is a video conferencing system that is integrated into Canvas. It allows for live video conferencing and presentations but also is a good tool for recording lectures and presentations in advance.
- Conferences is another existing Canvas tool available to instructors that can facilitate remote attendance. In a Conference, you can share your computer screen and hold live chat and notes, but recording options are limited.
- Host phone-based audio conferences for small classes.
Regardless of which of these tools you use, your sessions should be recorded so they can be accessed later by students unable to attend in a synchronous manner.
Distribute course materials and readings
You will likely need to provide additional course materials to support your changing plans, from updated schedules to readings that allow you to shift more – or all – instruction online. In a pinch, providing some new readings and related assignments may be your best bet for keeping the intellectual momentum of the course moving.
Considerations when posting new course materials:
- Make sure students know when new material is posted: When you post new materials in Canvas be sure to let students know what you posted and where. You might even ask that they change their notification preferences to alert them when new materials are posted. For Canvas, refer them to How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as a student?
- Keep things accessible and mobile-friendly: In a crisis, many students may only have a mobile device available, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats including PDFs and Canvas Pages. Consider saving other files in two formats, it’s original application format and a PDF. PDFs are easier to read on phones and tablets and keep the file size small, and original file formats often have application features that are helpful to students who use accessibility software for accessibility reasons. Also note that videos take more bandwidth, so only require them if you are confident students will have access to them during the current situation.
- Utilize accessibility tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint's automatic captions.
Transitioning Lab Activities
One of the biggest challenges of teaching online from anywhere is sustaining the lab components of classes. Since many labs require specific equipment, they are hard to reproduce outside of that physical space.
Considerations as you plan to address lab activities:
- Take part of the lab online: Many lab activities require students to become familiar with certain procedures, and only physical practice of those processes will do. In such cases, consider if there are other parts of the lab experience you could take online (for example, video demonstrations of techniques, online simulations, analysis of data, other pre- or post-lab work). Save the physical practice parts of the labs until access to campus is restored. It is understood that the semester will be disjointed by splitting up lab experiences, but it might get you through a short campus closure.
- Investigate virtual labs: Online resources and virtual tools might help replicate the experience of some labs (for example, virtual dissection, night sky apps, video demonstrations of labs, simulations). These vary widely by discipline but check with your textbook publisher or sites such as Merlot for materials that might help replace parts of your lab during an emergency.
- Provide raw data for analysis: In cases where the lab includes both collection of data and its analysis, consider showing how the data can be collected, and then provide some raw sets of data for students to analyze. This approach is not as comprehensive as having students collect and analyze their own data, but it might keep them engaged with parts of the lab experience during the closure.
Translating performance classes to online
- Assign monologue/solo work to replace scene/ensemble work. Have students record their solo performances on their smartphones and submit the video file. Faculty can respond with written feedback on ways to improve their performances or use Canvas Conferences or Zoom to remotely coach the monologue work.
- Ask students to identify the composition of an online video (frontal, easily repeatable) and then ask them to challenge those norms (face away from the camera, retrograde)
Collecting assignments during a campus closure is fairly straightforward since many instructors already collect work electronically. The main challenge during a campus disruption is whether students have access to computers and/or the internet, as anyone needing a campus computer lab may be unable to access necessary technologies. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Use Canvas for assignment collection: Canvas can be used to create assignments that allow online submissions of papers as well as many other file types.
- State expectations, but be ready to allow extensions: In the case of a campus closure or other crisis, some students will undoubtedly have difficulties meeting deadlines. Make expectations clear, but be ready to provide more flexibility than you normally would in your class.
Assess Student Learning
The office of Academic Technology and Creative Communications can provide individual consultation to instructors wanting to adapt exams to a different format to ensure that the new format is measuring what the instructor wants. Here are some options for adapting your final exam:
- Use Canvas to offer exams online: Canvas allows final exams to be timed and offered online. This may not work for all classes, however, it may be an option for many. Canvas can also auto-grade in many instances. Instructors should also offer students flexibility by offering a larger availability window for completing exams as opposed to traditional periods.
- Adjusting exams/quizzes to online delivery: Instructors should not expect that students will complete these exams closed-book and therefore need to consider adapting assessments to ones that cannot be answered with an open textbook (reflection; short answer; essay). Alternatively, instructors can set limits on time which will make consulting outside resources difficult (shorten the length of the exam; increase the number of questions).
- Distribute Exam PDF electronically and ask students to scan their submissions with their phones: You can distribute a PDF of your exam via Canvas at an appointed time for printing using Files or Assignments. Students can work on it in the privacy of their room and scan it to a multi-page PDF using an app like OneDrive, then upload it to Canvas Assignments.
Additional online assessment tools:
- Respondus LockDown Browser: LockDown browser is available both on and off campus, but is often not effective in online assessment as it cannot account for the student's environment and is not accessible through the Canvas app or on mobile devices.
- Respondus Monitor: Another feature of LockDown browser that requires students to have a webcam and effectively records video of the student while taking an exam. Respondus Monitor is available on a limited basis through the Office of Academic Technology and Creative Communications.