As we near the end of this semester, we are getting closer to moving our classes from Blackboard to Canvas. From an accessibility standpoint this is a GREAT time to do several things. The first is to clean up and remove any files from Blackboard that you don’t use anymore. The second is to take the opportunity to make sure the files you are using are accessible. To help with this, the digital accessibility remediation team of student workers will be working over the summer. If you would like them to help make your files accessible please contact COLRS.
Authentic assessments require students to apply concepts
they have learned to real world situations by having them complete meaningful
task-based assessments. This type of assessment engages a variety of skills,
and measures higher levels of learning than traditional assessments. Authentic
assessment helps students practice creative thinking and problem-solving, and
allows for multiple paths to demonstrate knowledge.
Most authentic assessments involve complex questions and
tasks that do not have straightforward solutions; students must research,
brainstorm, practice, draft, and refine solutions in order to complete the
Examples of authentic assessments you can use in online
learning environment include:
Problem Based Learning
Interpretation of charts/graphs
Have students design assessments
Require answer justification (why is the answer
Peer evaluation of reflections/essays
Experimental interpretation- analysis of research
If you rely on a paper-based final exam for your face-to-face courses, Blackboard can be used to administer your exam remotely. The COLRS blog has instructions on creating exams and posting exams in Blackboard. If your exam currently existing in Word or another software program, you’ll need to convert it into a Blackboard exam. Depending on the length of your exam, the simplest and fastest approach to convert your exam to Blackboard may be to copy and paste your questions from Word into a Blackboard test. Respondus can be used to convert more lengthy exams for Blackboard. Formatting an exam for Respondus can take time, so you’ll want to consider whether its use is worth the time to download and use it. COLRS can help you determine which approach may be easier for your course.
As Provost Papini mentioned in his e-mail to faculty yesterday, UIS recommends two proctoring solutions for remote courses. The first solution is Respondus Monitor with LockDown Browser . Respondus Monitor is a fully- automated tool that uses a student’s webcam to record the exam session. Suspicious testing behavior is automatically flagged by the software, and instructors are alerted to preview the alert flags. Respondus Monitor is free for faculty and students to use and it is integrated with Blackboard. LockDown Browser must be used to use Respondus Monitor. To use Respondus Monitor, follow the directions for preparing a test for LockDown browser. After selecting Respondus LockDown browser, also select the Respondus Monitor option. Students will be required to download and use LockDown browser for the exam.
The second proctoring solution is Examity Online Proctoring. Through the student’s webcam, Examity uses live proctors to observe and record the exam session. There is a fee for students to use Examity. Unfortunately, Examity’s proctoring facility has been shutdown because of COVID-19. Presently, they expect to be closed for a couple more weeks. If you hope to use Examity, you must e-mail COLRS to let us know the course that will have a proctored exam. Examity provides us with weekly updates on when they expect live, online proctoring to resume. We are hoping they will be resuming live, online proctoring by finals week, but there is a chance that might not be the case. In the event that live, online proctoring will not be available in time, COLRS will work with you to move to Respondus Monitor.
As our classes and meetings turn to synchronous, online options, you may be finding yourself more exhausted than normal. We have heard from both faculty and staff that online, synchronous video conversations are more tiring than their face-to-face equivalents. Dr. Steven Hickman, UC San Diego Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine & Public Health, provides these tips for managing Zoom exhaustion:
Before starting a Zoom session, take a few moments to settle and ground your attention.
After starting the session, greet each new participant with your full attention.
Select Speaker View to focus on whoever is speaking at the time.
Reduce multitasking during the session.
Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, NIU Professor of Counseling and Higher Education, provides additional tips in reducing Zoom fatigue:
Rather than always using your computer, occasionally use your phone to call into some Zoom sessions
During Zoom sessions, consider taking notes on paper instead of on a computer
Schedule breaks between sessions
Despite the downside of Zoom exhaustion, COLRS staff appreciate having the ability to see and connect with UIS faculty and staff using Zoom during the last few weeks. Although it does not replace the face-to-face connections that we miss, we hope that you are finding Zoom useful in connecting with your students and colleagues.
Now that we have completed two weeks of remote teaching, it is the ideal time to have a “how’s it going” conversation with your students. This personal outreach can be beneficial in seeing how each one of your students is adapting to their new learning environment and if they are experiencing any new personal, family, or work-related changes that may be impacting their learning. While some students who are struggling will reach out to you on their own, others may not share any challenges they are experiencing until they are asked.
Some faculty have found value in having a phone call or Zoom session with each student. Others have reached out using a personalized e-mail to each student. No matter what your preference may be, you may consider asking your students questions such as:
How can I help you?
How are you adapting to the changes in your life?
How are you adapting to the changes in our class?
Is my communication with the class working for you?
Have the videos or presentations I created been helpful?
Are you able to understand assignment instructions and due dates?
Is there something else I should know that is making learning hard for you at this time?
April 3, 2020 / mgribbin / Comments Off on The Teacher-Scholar: Interdisciplinary Research on Remote Teaching
As emphasized as a value in the UIS Strategic Compass, the UIS community seeks to understand the world around us through the pursuit of scholarship that is challenging and significant. In the past couple of weeks, COLRS has been approached by UIS faculty who would like to discuss research possibilities relating to the campus-wide transition to remote teaching. If you are interested in participating in an initial discussion about potential project ideas, please e-mail email@example.com. In your e-mail, please share any immediate areas of interest that you would like to raise in the discussion. COLRS will coordinate the scheduling of a Zoom session in the upcoming weeks for those who show an interest.
For the next couple of
weeks, COLRS will be sending out a Teaching Remotely Tip of the
Day that comes from the most frequently asked questions by faculty.
All Remote Teaching Tips are
archived on the COLRS blog. The Teaching Remotely at UIS website is another starting point for faculty who are converting their
courses to alternative formats. This week, open Office Hours will be hosted by COLRS staff daily at 10 am for
faculty to ask pedagogy-related questions. In
addition, you may call COLRS at 217-206-7317 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a one-to-one meeting with any COLRS staff member.
In online courses, and now with “remote delivery”
of previously face-to-face courses, discussion forums provide a place for
student-to-student and instructor-to-student interaction. Within discussion
forums, students share thoughts and review the ideas of others modeled through
collegial, dialogic exchanges. Research shows the benefits of discussions for
student engagement and learning.
To help alleviate discussion board burn-out, here are some recommendations
and resources that will help us keep our discussions fresh and prevent excessive
Post the rules of netiquette and behavior
expectations at the start of class.
Encourage students to introduce themselves and
meet one another to form a learning community where they will feel safe to
share and discuss.
Develop discussion questions that allow the
student to critically reflect on the material and synthesize it with their own
Encourage students to participate early and
Create their presence in the classroom but not
interfere with the flow of the discussion.
Intervene when the discussion is veering off
in the wrong direction and help move the discussion back on track.
Ensure that the discussion forum is a safe
Promote further thinking and reflection by
posing more thoughtful and engaging questions within any given discussion.
If you already have a student with a documented disability with the Office of Disability Services, please consider their unique learning needs as you adapt to a virtual classroom. However, twenty-five percent of the population has some form of physical, learning, or cognitive disability so you may have a student with a need and you are unaware of it. A virtual classroom environment may create learning challenges for students who may not have those challenges in a face-to-face environment. COLRS has accessibility resources and a searchable accessibility blog that provides guidance on improving the accessibility of digital content.
As you prepare your course for teaching remotely, here are some basic accessibility tips
If you have the choice between sharing a Word document and a PDF, choose Word.
If you have the choice between sharing a PowerPoint and a PDF, choose PowerPoint.
If you are creating new Word or PowerPoint files open the accessibility checker. You can then see if there are any issues, see directions on how to correct the issues, and correct them as you go.
If you are creating a video, speak slowly and keep the video short. Speaking slowly can improve the accuracy of the auto captioning in Kaltura. Directions on how to correct Kaltura captions.
For additional assistance in improving the accessibility of your virtual classroom, please contact the COLRS Campus Accessibility Specialist. The Digital Accessibility Remediation Team is able to help you make your digital content accessible remotely.
Zoombombing is a new form of Internet trolling in which a participant uses Zoom’s screensharing features to interrupt and disrupt meetings and classes. Many Zoom sessions, including several universities classes, have experienced Zoombombers this week.
How Can You Prevent Zoombombing in Your Classes?
You can use your meeting and host settings to prevent students from distracting other students in your class session, as well as preventing unwanted participants from joining your class session. Some suggestions include:
Use a Password – You can require your students to enter a password to enter the meeting.
Use the Zoom Waiting Room – The Waiting Room feature allows you to control when a participant joins the meeting.
Remove Unwanted Participants – If an unwanted participant joins your Zoom session, you can remove them from the session by hovering over their name in Participants menu.
Lock Your Meeting – Once your class is in session using Zoom, you can lock your meeting. By locking your meeting, no additional participants are able to enter your class. (Keep in mind that this can be a disservice for students who experience connectivity challenges or other disruptions that prevented them from joining on time.)
Mute Participants – Zoom hosts can block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate noises by muting individual or all students. You can also enable Mute Upon Entry in your Zoom settings.
Manage Screen Sharing – You can prevent students from screen sharing during a class session by using the host controls at the bottom of the meeting window. Click the arrow next to Share Screen, then click Advanced Sharing Options. Choose Host Only under the Who can share? setting.
Disable Chat – Zoom has in-meeting chat, which allows students to message the entire class or specific individuals within the class privately. You can restrict students’ ability to chat with other individuals while your class is going on. Keep in mind that preventing students from chatting with the entire class will prevent them from asking questions without using their microphone.
Disable File Transfer – File transfer allows people to share files through the in-meeting chat. If File Transfer is not needed for your class session, you can disable the File Transfer option in the Meeting tab.
Disable Annotation – With Zoom’s annotation feature, students can mark up content during screen share. You can disable the annotation feature in your Zoom settings to prevent people from writing all over the screens.
Despite the possible challenges associated with Zoombombers, Zoom continues to be a valuable learning tool that allows your students to maintain a sense of connectivity with you and their classmates. You don’t need to use all of these preventive measures. Choose one or two that allows you to use the Zoom to meet the needs of your class. If you need help talking about which feature might be the best in your particular class, please contact COLRS at email@example.com.
The Citrix Virtual Desktop allows students, faculty, and staff (whether on or off campus) to access a virtual computer that runs all software for which UIS has licensing. To access Citrix, visit https://uiscitrix.uis.edu and log in with your NetID and password. You can then use a Windows desktop with course-related software installed and ready to use.
Access to university systems that normally cannot be accessed from off-campus, such as mapped network drives or TEM. (Please note: mapped drives will need to be re-mapped every time you join a Citrix session.)
Don’t Use Citrix For…
Casual web browsing. Instead, use the browser on your personal device.
Access to Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Powerpoint, or Excel. Instead, download these apps for free through Office 365 or use the online versions.
Access to Adobe products, including photo and video editing tools. Instead, these are available for free to faculty, staff, and students through the UIS Webstore.
Zoom allows you to schedule meetings with multiple
occurrences, so that each occurrence uses the same meeting ID and settings. You
can schedule these meetings in daily, weekly, and monthly increments. You can also
set a recurring meeting to be used at any time. Meeting IDs for recurring
meetings expire 365 days after the meeting was last started.
While we are scrambling to transition face-to-face courses to remote teaching, we’d like to remind everyone that perfection isn’t necessary.
In the spirit of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the
good, we offer the following ideas regarding assessments for your consideration.
Consider one consistent day and time each week
when work is due. Make an updated course calendar for students.
Be creative about assessment. Think about
assessing in ways that are appropriate for what you want students to learn. Do
you assessments match your higher-level learning objectives?
Instead of a big exam with 100 question,
consider breaking assessments into smaller chunks – quizzes or more focused
activities. Many smaller assessments are less stressful for students.
When you do give exams, provide longer windows during
which students can take the exam, rather than just during your normal class
time. For example, allow students 2 days to choose an hour to take a test. Allowing
a cushion of time for connectivity issues will make your life easier.
One of the principles of universal design for
learning is that what is good for one student is good for all. Captioning,
sharing lecture notes and presentations, and creating videos are good practices
that help your students with documented disabilities as well as everyone else
in your class.
Rely on those with experience and expertise –
the Remote Teaching Faculty Champions and COLRS/ITS staff are here to support
your transition. Have conversations and learn some strategies and tools to keep
learning going this semester.
While we are scrambling to transition face-to-face courses
to remote teaching, we’d like to remind everyone that perfection isn’t
In the spirit of not letting the perfect
be the enemy of the good, we offer the following ideas for your consideration.
is vital right now. You didn’t sign up for a mid-semester move to remote
teaching. Your students didn’t register for an online class. Students are looking
to you for guidance and support. Are you treating you students as you would
want to be treated in this situation?
do not have great internet connections. A large number are doing remote
learning on cell phones. Students may be experiencing loss of income, ill family
members, and stress about the uncertainty of this situation.
Let go of teaching your class as you always
have. Take a step back and think about your learning objectives. How can you accomplish your learning
objectives in this new situation?
Make the tools you have work to your advantage. Elaborate isn’t necessary.
Expecting all students to log into Zoom at a particular
time is a challenging requirement, at best. Record any live sessions (save recordings to your computer, rather
than the cloud; it gives you faster access to the recordings). Upload
recordings to Kaltura or YouTube and provide the links to the recordings for
students who could not attend. UIS has asked that all synchronous sessions to take place at normal class times to
avoid conflicts among classes for students.
Reconsider creating narrated PowerPoint or talking
head videos for three hours a week. Long videos take a lot of bandwidth. Consider short videos (5 minutes or
less). Post content in Word or PowerPoint files, too. Reserve synchronous Zoom
sessions for discussion and student questions.
Remember, perfection is not necessary. Communicate with
students. Simplify where possible. Ask for help when you need it.
As your students adjust to the many changes that are impacting their lives and education, lessening any uncertainty through your interactions and communications with them becomes ever important. If you haven’t already reached out to your students, it is critical that you do so within the next few days. These initial communications should orient your students to their new learning environment and any tools that will be used. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with where to start, the Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction Checklist provides useful tips and actionable strategies for adapting to these changes. Some highlights from the checklist include:
Provide explicit directions clearly identifying where students can find course components.
Ideas: compare the structure of the online version with the face-to-face version, identify where to go to get started
Directly identify any relevant changes to any course and institutional policies.
Ideas: share changes to course schedule, due dates, and structure of assignments
Address communication and interaction expectations.
Ideas: share how should students contact you, how often students should log-on, guidelines for communicating with classmates, what technologies/tools they will need, and days when students should log-on for synchronous activities during your scheduled class time (if applicable)
Tell learners what to expect from you and when to expect it.
Ideas: share how quickly you will respond to emailed questions, how quickly students should expect assignment grades to be provided
Provide instructions on how learners can access their grades.
Ideas: share how students can view grades and feedback, share rubrics that you might use
Remind students of academic and student services support available to them.
As millions of people around the world shift to working from home,
the unprecedented transformation of our behavior has put a large strain
on internet infrastructure which can lead to slow internet speeds.
Here are some ideas to help us address this challenge:
The following companies are offering free or low-cost internet service during the crisis:
Zoom is a robust web conferencing platform integrated with Canvas. Faculty can create, schedule, and launch Zoom sessions from within Canvas, and students can easily join those sessions.
Synchronous class meetings for remote teaching should be
held during normal on campus meeting times.
Zoom as a Classroom Tool
Zoom can be an excellent
platform for delivering lectures, holding class discussions, supporting group
work and class debates, and enabling student presentations.
Zoom Usability for Students with Slow or Intermittent
Zoom is designed to work on
multiple platforms (Mac and Windows, plus mobile devices). Zoom also compresses
audio and video feeds to make them work on slower internet connections. Below
are some strategies for providing support for students with slow, unreliable,
or intermittent internet access, or other circumstances that prevent joining a
synchronous session held during normal class meeting times. Being flexible and
forgiving will be key to helping all our students continuing their learning.
Remind students that they can call in to listen and participate. If they don’t have internet access, they are not excluded from class. Each Zoom meeting will have a phone number and meeting ID that allows participants to call in.
Upload all PowerPoint slides, shared resources, and websites to Canvas. This can be helpful for students who are calling in. They can download and/or print resources before the synchronous meeting time.
Record the session to the Cloud and post it. Zoom automatically provides auto-captions for recordings to the cloud. Take advantage of this feature and save some steps. These recordings are saved for six months. If you’d like to keep a lecture for longer periods, upload the recording to Kaltura MyMedia or YouTube. When the recording is uploaded, post it to your Canvas course to provide alternative viewing modes for students who cannot meet at the normal, scheduled class time. Learn about Zoom recordings and uploading to Kaltura.
Provide a “muddiest point” discussion forum for the synchronous session. The Muddiest Point is a simple classroom assessment technique to help assess where students are having difficulties. Ask each student to post a quick response to the question: “What was the muddiest point in [synchronous meeting, lecture, discussion, assignment, etc.]?” You might replace “muddiest” with “most unclear” or “most confusing.” This technique also allows students who view the recording later to participate with the rest of the class. Learn more about Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs).
Zoom Accessibility Considerations
Zoom Cloud Recordings are automatically captioned now, and can provide live real-time auto-captions. If you have a student with accommodations in your course, the UIS Office of Disability Services will continue working with the student and all their instructors. Zoom can support live captioning, if required.
We understand that test integrity is critical. We offer these suggestions for considering testing options.
1. Instead of a test, you might consider alternative assessments such as a project, paper, or other type of assessment. Vanderbilt University has a nice website on Classroom Assessment Techniques that you might find helpful as you think through your curriculum. COLRS staff is also available to assist in thinking about alternative assessments for your courses.
2. Respondus Monitor is a good solution for low-stakes tests. UIS has a contract with Respondus that includes both Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor, a fully-automated proctoring solution for online tests that builds on Respondus LockDown Browser. This option does not cost the student any additional fees. When possible, please use this option to improve affordability for our students. Using the student’s webcam, Respondus Monitor records the exam session. Suspicious behavior is flagged automatically. To use Respondus Monitor, follow the directions for using Respondus LockDown Browser and then select the Respondus Monitor option.
3. Examity is the preferred solution for all high-stakes tests. Remember that students pay an extra fee based on the level of proctoring that you, the faculty member, choose. This may cause hardships for students who may be effected significantly through loss of work or dealing with healthcare issues because of COVID-19. You should always share the cost of Examitywhich ranges from $10 – $17 per hour with your students so that they are never surprised by being asked to provide a credit or debit card for a test proctoring. Respondus Monitor is free to use for students.
As we move forward in responding to this difficult and challenging time, please remember that COLRS staff will do everything we can to assist you in the important and very difficult work that you are all undertaking to finish this semester.
Our friends at the Brookens Library, share the following message with UIS faculty.
In these unprecedented times and in an ever-evolving situation, faculty and staff of Brookens Library are available to provide remote services for you and your students. Library Faculty are available to assist you in finding materials that can be accessed online at no cost to your students.
Educational Resources (OER) are being recommended as a resource for your
classes as access to these materials are free to use, or adapt and customize.
Consult our OER guide or contact library faculty for
assistance. Scholarly EBook
collections that we have purchased or subscribe to that are research
and discipline related, are accessible online and can be used for classes
and coursework. Leisure books for relaxing or entertainment can be searched and
read through the Cloud Library
A new streaming media guide with links to our video resources that we currently subscribe to, as well as materials that vendors are providing free at this time.
you currently have materials checked out from our library or any of the I-Share libraries,
IGNORE DUE DATES! If you can no longer renew materials online,
keep them anyway. The CARLI consortia libraries are working together to serve
our patrons across Illinois. Many I-Share libraries that are usually open to
patrons from I-Share member libraries are closed due to spring breaks or in
response to the virus so please check their web
sites or call ahead before visiting any libraries.
new COVID-19 guide has been
created to keep all pertinent Library information together in one place to best
serve faculty and patrons.
messaging chat services are being offered as many library faculty will be
working remotely and not in their offices. You can also email library staff as
needed for assistance. Contact the Library’s Main Desk at 217.206.6605
In response to COVID-19, the larger educational community has been active in curating virtual resources for educators needing to quickly convert on-ground courses to alternative formats. As COLRS discovers resources that may be useful, we will share them here in this blog post.
If you’re traveling out of town, or just need to connect to campus from home, we have some tips for keeping connected with ease.
Download and install the UIS VPN client from vpn.uis.edu. The university Virtual Private Network (VPN) is free for anyone with a NetID and enables individuals to secure their Internet connection back to the university while using public Wi-Fi such as coffee shops or at conferences. By using the VPN, you are securing yourself from misconfigurations on these public networks and malicious behavior by others on that same wireless network.