Remote Course Delivery

Mail

Please contact infodesk@allegheny.edu for help and more information about remote course delivery.

General Planning Tips

Typical online courses can take up to three to four months to build, so building a course out in a matter of days may feel unfamiliar and frustrating. Please be patient, and refer to the resources and training below.

  • Communicate with your students early and often. Student success in learning environments that have online components is increased when there’s a sense that the instructor is present. Consider shifting focus from packaging and delivering content, to developing interactions between you and your students, students with other students, and students with the course content.
  • Focus on the core learning goals for your course. Focus on alternatives which support the goals of the course rather than seeking direct online substitutes for previously planned activities.
  • Convey your new expectations to students, including your updated guidelines for participation, communication and deadlines. In such a stressful time, clear communication with your students will be vital. Consider making expectations as clear as possible, establishing unambiguous and consistent policies and making them available in an easily accessible place (not just via email). When it comes to assignment instructions, communication will also be very important. Students will appreciate being able to focus on the assignment instead of struggling with how exactly to do it. Encourage students to begin longer assignments early and ask questions often.
  • Rather than searching for new technologies for online work, use the tools Allegheny students already know: G-Suite (the Google suite of tools) and Sakai. You can find out more about G-Suite and Sakai in their online support areas or by contacting LITS (infodesk@allegheny.edu). 
  • Substitute asynchronous activities for synchronous where possible. Asynchronous activities can ease scheduling difficulties while maintaining similar learning outcomes. Stanford has created a useful document describing the relative merits of synchronous and asynchronous teaching.
  • The College has concerns about the ability of students to access synchronous classes with the expected demand on internet resources.
  • Pick tools and approaches that are familiar to you and your students. Opt for traditional alternatives, such as additional readings or using existing lectures from YouTube, before introducing new technology that may distract from the course content.
  • Substitute digital resources for physical where possible since current conditions don’t allow students to access the physical library and they may not have access to their textbooks. Contact LITS (infodesk@allegheny.edu) if you have questions or need help locating appropriate digital materials.  
  • If any of the suggestions below are unfamiliar to you or you have questions, consult with LITS staff as early as possible to see examples and discuss possible implementations. Contact LITS at infodesk@allegheny.edu
  • The quantity of quality material that has become available to help faculty move quickly to online teaching is staggering. See the GLCA website and  this article, for example. Rather than trying to make this transition perfect, which will drive never-ending cycles of research and revision, focus on core teaching functions, as the article suggests.
  • Subject tutors and writing consultants are available for remote support.

Communicating updates, changes to the syllabus, and other relevant information

Distributing documents, readings, and assignments

  • The easiest ways to distribute digital materials is with Sakai’s Resources tool. 
  • Look in the Library’s online catalog for digital versions of readings that you may traditionally distribute in paper, and share links on Sakai.
  • You can also create a folder on Google Drive and share it with your students.
  • Sakai’s Assignments tool can help you and your students keep track of assigned work.

Providing lecture content, videos, and discussion online

Teaching laboratory and other performative skills online

Facilitating discussions, office hours, and collaborative work

Collecting student work, setting assignments, and administering quizzes

  • Students can submit assignments in Sakai using the Dropbox tool. 
  • Sakai’s Tests and Quizzes tool can be used to administer exams with several question types. In this unique situation, online exams will have implications similar to open-book exams. By taking the exam remotely, students will have access to the internet and each other. 

Providing grades and student feedback

  • Use the Sakai Gradebook to allow students to see their grades.
  • With the limitations on face-to-face interactions, feedback will be critical. Consider how you will keep in touch with students to provide feedback. 
  • Google Calendar appointment slots can be used to set up appointments for G-Suite products such as Gmail, Chat, and Meet.

Access to electronic resources (books, journal articles)

Info

Ways that you (and your students) can connect with LITS Librarians for help are summarized on the LITS Research Assistance page including the Ask Us Chat now available Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. 
  • To find electronic copies of books and journal articles, use the new search boxes on the LITS search tools page that search for only these items.
  • Some publishers have made additional resources available during the pandemic. These are described in a libguide. New resources will be added as they become available.
  • Requests for digital copies of journal articles the College does not own are still being fulfilled whenever possible.
  • Patrons can access help finding electronic resources by using the tools on LITS’ research assistance page.

Accessibility/Accommodations

  • While the current goal is to get your course up and running as soon as possible, please don’t assume all of your students will have access to a laptop and internet some may be working from their cell phones.
  • While no one solution is going to solve every possible situation, there are different options available to help service the needs of unique cases. Discuss alternative and realistic options with your students who need these special accommodations. For example, students can still access Google Meet sessions by calling in, even if they aren’t signed on to the internet.
  • Also, consider accessibility. Are your PDFs screen-readable? Is alt-text included with all of your images? If you use different colors for text on your slide deck, is there enough contrast between the text and the background?

Disability Accommodation Guidance for Faculty 

Info

It is inevitable that we will have individualized circumstances to work around with some of our more creative and unique accommodations for students. Please don’t hesitate to contact Student Disability Services with any questions or concerns.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) continues to apply to all methods of instruction.
  • Students who are currently approved for extended time on in-class tests/quizzes are still entitled to time-and-a-half for anything online that is timed. This does not apply to papers/assignments that have been assigned ahead of time and are intended to be worked on outside of the scheduled online instruction period. 
  • Student Disability Services will coordinate with current, hired note takers about providing notes to students they are currently working with on a case by case basis. 
  • Faculty should only use college approved online platforms for instruction and materials so that we can ensure Section 508 compliance and online accessibility.  
  • Students who are utilizing assistive technology have had the software installed on their current machines, so that should not be an issue. PDF tends to be the most accessible document format for most reading software. 
  • Captioning should be implemented into all videos/audio. 
  • When recording audio or video for your course, develop a script when possible. It can be posted alongside the media as a transcript, and can also help you to create a better recording.
  • Any newly approved accommodations for students or issues with current accommodations can be handled over email/phone if necessary. 
  •  Be flexible and adjust deadlines and strategies to create an inclusive learning environment. Students with diagnoses such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder or anxiety may not adjust well to abrupt changes, making flexibility even more important during these unexpected changes to instruction. 

FERPA

Q: Does it constitute a FERPA violation to a) give a student my cell phone number and tell them I would welcome questions or comments on readings by text b) to respond to their text by text, about course content (not grade information, or information about their standing in the course.)

A: FERPA doesn’t apply to your personal information, so no. The other option is to forward your office phone to your cell and give the students that — but that’s up to you. Google Chat can also be used to avoid personal cell phone numbers. 

Q: Do instructors need permission from all students in their class if they want to record Google Meet classes and post them?

A: Students do not have the right to be private in a classroom. But a recording of a class in which students are visible is an educational record. See https://www.umass.edu/it/support/lecture-capture/lecture-capture-and-ferpa