Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Continuity of Instruction

Here are a few suggestions offered by Tom Brazunias, North Seattle Community College's e-Learning Support Center:

If winter weather challenges a course's regular campus meeting, consider the following:

1.   Alert your students to whether or not you will be able to make it to campus.

2.  Record your class lesson for students to play at home later (for example, during the regular meeting time).

3.  Hold a live "virtual meeting" online instead at the regular campus meeting time.

Here are a few details on each idea:

If you cannot make it to class, your students will appreciate knowing this before trying to make it to class themselves.  Of course, one way to alert students is to email all students and hope they receive the email (it doesn’t bounce or end up filtered to junk mail).

Another way is to set up a system so that students can check for themselves about specific classes (no lost emails) using either your instructor web page or other space on your college web site.

Ideally, you have notified your students ahead of time to check this page, perhaps adding information to your syllabus such as:  “If class needs to be canceled due to weather or other conditions, information will be posted on my instructor web page at (url).  If you are uncertain whether class will meet, please check this link before making a trip to campus.


 If your planned class was a lecture, you can record yourself ahead of time and post the link to students.  The lecture can be available for a limited time and then deleted.  Because Washington State Community and Technical Colleges have a system-wide license for a lecture-recording tool called "Tegrity" - this option is available to all WA State faculty.  You'll need a microphone (perhaps as part of a headset) and, optionally, a webcam (if you want students to see your expressions and body language as you deliver your lecture).  We believe that even a "talking head" adds to communication and attention when delivering a 50-minute lesson.

The nice thing about Tegrity is that it has a (relatively) easy learning curve.  You turn it on, record, and then turn it off.  Well, okay, there are a few other steps to know about!  You send the link to your students and they can watch it from anywhere with an internet connection.

 Instead of meeting in the physical classroom, you can meet online with your students using Blackboard Collaborate, an online conferencing tool that is also provided to all Washington State faculty through a system-wide license.  The online meeting can take place at the regular face-to-face meeting time.

Bb Collaborate is a great tool, allowing you to share PowerPoints, websites, documents and text-based or audio-based communication with your students.  All you need is a microphone (and webcam is optional) and all your students need are speakers on their computers (their own microphone is optional).

Collaborate does have a bit of a learning curve (for you,  as the moderator, not your students).  It's worth setting aside 20 minutes to get in and "play" with Collaborate before you use it in a live meeting.  If you have a chance to attend someone else's online webinar or meeting in Collaborate, take it. It's helpful to experience being a participant in a Collaborate meeting before moderating a Collaborate meeting.

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