Teach On(line)!

This page houses resources curated for a workshop I conducted to help Graduate Teaching Assistants rapidly convert their courses into online formats in response to the Covid-19 closure of UCF.

UCF Knight with the words "teach on" beneath it

Tips for perspective

  • Remember, this is a rapid and unexpected change! It’s not going to go perfectly! ….and that’s okay!
  • Your students might be really anxious about everything (you might be too!). As soon as you can, send out an organized announcement through Webcourses with important changes and links to key assignments coming up. Check for typos before sending!
  • Online teaching can’t just be moved online as-is (effectively). It requires work.
    • Make sure you document this extra work on your CV: Digital Media Production I, Spring 2020 Mixed Mode [Converted to fully online mid-semester due to Covid-19].
    • Consider this an opportunity to be creative with your student activities! What can they *do* to learn the material?
    • Consider the massive workload students may suddenly face if all of their courses suddenly require online discussion posts. Is there a different way for students to interact with the course concepts?
  • Set students’ expectations of you (otherwise they expect constant availability). What hours do you typically reply to email? Within 48 business hours? Let them know so they don’t think they are being ignored.

General Online Teaching Tips

  • Consider extending deadlines and implementing a grace period (5-8 hours after the standard 11:59pm deadline helps avoid midnight panicked emails that something crashed or didn’t save or didn’t upload correctly etc.) Try to leave assignments open for a week (when possible).
  • Remember to be ADA compliant. Videos must have transcriptions, and images must have alternative text.
  • Be extra clear with instructions. I like to explain assignments on a page in a module as well as on the assignment page (with a link to the module). When you can, include links to the internal Webcourses page, or where to find more information about an assignment/topic.
  • Most of our students have been trained to do online discussions! The typical schedule is: 1 original post due by 11:59pm Sunday night with substantive replies (not “I agree” or “Good job” etc. but meaningful, thoughtful replies) to at least 2 classmates by 11:59pm Wednesday. Diverting from this pattern can cause confusion (why? how? nobody knows) but it is also logical to have things due by 11:59pm the day of your class or whatever you originally put on the syllabus.
  • Moving a 3 hour class online does not necessarily mean recording 3 hours worth of lecture (please, no). Consider breaking up your lecture into short, single-topic videos. Also be optimistic that students will pause, rewind, and re-watch. Consider more in-depth activities students can do virtually that may take an hour or more to do well, but also consider how long it will take you to grade them! Can you do a quick 5 point rubric? (Mine is 5 points = complete & thoughtfully done; 4 points = mostly complete but missing detail; 0 points = not submitted)
  • One way to “translate” attendance into an online format is to use the word “participation” instead of “attendance.” I do this in my face-to-face classes too, in an effort to emphasize active engagement with the class over half-asleep “what? I showed up, that’s all I should have to do” attitudes. Clicker questions can be converted to participation quizzes, discussion posts, or longer assignments focused on the material.
  • Great graphic by Alison Yang (retrieved from: https://twitter.com/stevenacain/status/1238862518216507395/photo/1)

'do this' and 'not that' columns

Instructor Resources

Other resources & notes from the workshop:

  • Text Expander – lets you save & paste comments for grading: https://textexpander.com/ 
  • Community Discussion board: 30 word ‘rant’ on a topic; pet images always help us feel connected 🙂
  • Send weekly/periodic videos to check in & remind them that there’s a human in charge of the course (vs. a robot)
  • Video Conversion / Transcoding: – HandBrake: https://handbrake.fr/downloads.php
  • Screencasting / Video Recording: – OBS (Open Broadcasting Software): https://obsproject.com/
  • Survey your students to see what they have access to to find out if they are even capable of completing your original/alternative assignments
  • Think of different ways that students can demonstrate/practice skills you want them to learn (e.g. students can’t access specific art supplies–allow them to use whatever materials they do have access to)
  • Some humor: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/welcome-to-your-hastily-prepared-online-college-course?fbclid=IwAR0YHfIrASZ4JfAnoImLIdpJI7YPcuLDcQXaMHDgf2_9WjMbPiZ_0wl6AuA 
  • Recording of the workshop (it didn’t record my face! Win!): https://recordings.rna1.blindsidenetworks.com/ucf/6e660685eb7dae22b7372df8720eefcfd9ec95ec-1584368742035/capture/ 
  • Game/website/interactive media tools curated by @everestpipkin: http://everest-pipkin.com/teaching/tools.html 
  • I mentioned that I planned to add a 0 point question to the weekly reading quiz. Here’s what I ended up doing: 
    • Question: How are you doing? [0 points, all answers marked ‘correct’]
      • Great! I have everything I need to complete my assignments remotely.
        • Autoreply: Awesome! Feel free to complete assignments early, and please check on your group members to make sure they are doing well too!
      • Okay – I can complete my work, but I’m a little stressed
        • Autoreply: Don’t stress! This class is not your first priority. Please take care of yourself & family as needed. Deadlines are already extended a week – please let me know if you could use a longer extension for any reason at all.

      • I’m getting by, but I could use some deadline extensions
        • Autoreply: This class is not your first priority. Please take care of yourself & family as needed. If there is any way I can make assignments easier to submit please let me know. Remember, deadlines are already extended a week – please let me know if you could use a longer extension for any reason at all. This class has the ability to be really flexible in that regard.

      • I’m really struggling finding resources and/or worried about things
        • Autoreply: This class is not your first priority. Please take care of yourself & family as needed. If there is any way I can make assignments easier to submit please let me know. Remember, deadlines are already extended a week – please let me know if you could use a longer extension for any reason at all. This class has the ability to be really flexible in that regard.

Student Resources

Dory from "Finding Nemo" in front of coronavirus, with the caption "Just keep teaching!"