Teaching During Disruption

The following recommendations are meant to minimize the current disruption of face-to-face classes and are focused on providing key tools to help support faculty and students to finish the term on the best note possible. Please note that we are in no way suggesting faculty adopt any/all of these measures, that they are just ideas aimed at helping you think about how to adapt your course to accommodate the disruption at hand.

When considering what strategies to adopt, we recommend that you start with what you're comfortable with, and seek any necessary supports from ltid@acadiau.ca.

Situational Factors:

  • Implementing a communication strategy for faculty and their students
  • Delivering two weeks of class content and a final assessment using alternative modes of delivery
  • Assessing the course content you intended to cover in the last two weeks of classes, and making necessary adjustments to ensure students receive key information connected to the core requirements of your course. (Consider your course learning outcomes, etc.)

The Online Learning Environment

Acadia University’s Moodle environment (ACORN) supports online learning that occurs at a distance. Each course at Acadia has an associated ACORN site, and each student registered in your courses has access to their sites, making it a good place to coordinate your plans with students. As an instructor, you can access your course site through ACORN (click here to open ACORN). Select the course name to access its course site. Through ACORN, instructors and students can continue to engage with each other in meaningful ways and continue to learn.

Communication

Regular communication is important to online learning. It will be important for you to frequently communicate your expectations to students during this period of social distancing. Be sure to communicate any and all course updates. Also, consider how you will create meaningful interactions and dialogue to support student learning in the online environment.

How do I choose the right communication tool?

This may need to be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on what you're trying to do. The important thing is to let students know how you plan to communicate with them, how often, and how you expect them to communicate with each other (if applicable.) The following list is, by no means, comprehensive.

  • Quickmail: ACORN’s Quickmail widget (which can be found on the right-hand side of each course homepage) is a quick and simple means of e-mailing all your students at once. Quickmail keeps a log of all outgoing communications and makes use of your Acadia e-mail account.
  • Announcements Forum: Every ACORN course comes with an Announcements forum at the top of the course. When you post to this forum, it will notify all students in the course.
  • Chat: ACORN has a built-in chatroom tool called Chat. To add a chatroom to your class, turn editing on, “Add an activity or resource,” and select Chat to create a space for ongoing discussions.
  • Microsoft Teams: All faculty and students have access to Teams. This can be used via the web by logging in to Office 365, or through the app. Teams allows you to create “New Teams” which can be set up as classrooms. Once the team has been created, all students will have access to any information shared within that Team (real-time audio conversations and lectures, whole-class discussion sessions, etc.).
    • You can share your screen in your Class Team, potentially covering your lecture material via PowerPoint slides or other information on your computer by screen-sharing with your class.
    • You can also create sub-groups called “Channels” for small group discussions.
    • Teams has text-based chatting, but also has the capacity to conduct video and audio calls, and also has the capacity to record calls and meetings.
    • Click here for more information about Teams.

How do I conduct video and audio calls?

  • Microsoft Teams: All faculty and students have access to Teams. This can be used via the web by logging in to Office 365, or through the app. Teams allows you to create “New Teams” which can be set up as classrooms. Once the team has been created, all students will have access to any information shared within that Team (real-time audio conversations and lectures, whole-class discussion sessions, etc.).
    • You can share your screen in your Class Team, potentially covering your lecture material via PowerPoint slides or other information on your computer by screen-sharing with your class.
    • You can also create sub-groups called “Channels” for small group discussions.
    • Teams has text-based chatting, but also has the capacity to conduct video and audio calls, and also has the capacity to record calls and meetings.
    • Click here for more information about Teams.

How do I provide updates to students in Moodle?

  • The Announcements Forum is a good way to provide regular updates for your students on course happenings (e.g. new information added to your course, newly graded work or feedback available, upcoming events or deadlines, etc.). When you post to this forum, all students will be notified.

How can I facilitate online class discussions?

When using text-based discussion tools, it is important that your discussion questions are as clear and specific as possible. This is particularly important if you decide to move your class towards an asynchronous format.

  • Forums in ACORN are an easy way engage in a written back-and-forth between you and your students. This can occur asynchronously on whatever timeline you deem appropriate. Consider using topics that you discuss in the physical classroom to drive conversation and dialogue within discussion forums.
  • Microsoft Teams is an easy-to-use and accessible tool for chatting that all faculty and students have access to. Teams allows you to have whole-class chats, small-group chats, and individual chats.

Content Delivery

Think about the information that is necessary to support student learning in your course. Below you will see several suggestions on how you can provide that content to support learning in the online environment. In this regard, our number one recommendation is that simple is best. These ideas have different levels of involvement and we recommend that you start with what you're comfortable with, seeking support as needed.

How do I provide students with this week’s lesson?

  • Upload a document summarizing what students need to do (readings, practice problems, etc.) and your key lecture points. We recommend uploading this information in pdf format.
  • Provide PowerPoint slides and make use of thenotes” section in place of a lecture. Ask students to review the PowerPoint and lecture notes, perhaps answering critical questions in a separate activity afterwards.
  • Record an audio lecture using your cellphone or other free audio recording software in lieu of a lecture. This audio can be used on its own, or accompany a PowerPoint presentation, making reference to specific slides.
  • Create a screen-capture video of your lecture (Instructions for MacOS and Windows). These videos will likely be too large to directly embed in ACORN, and will have to uploaded to YouTube and linked to your course. PLEASE NOTE: We recommend setting up a new YouTube account for this purpose. Please be cautious of any potential copyright issues related to your uploaded content.
  • Provide instructions on self-directed learning as opposed to providing the usual lecture (new readings, media to view or interact with, participation questions that can be answered on ACORN, discussion forums post engaging with materials, etc.) and have students write short responses or answer critical questions in ACORN.
  • Provide activities for students using external educational technologies. If you plan to do this, please consider including links to these activities and any information students may need to complete them on your ACORN homepage.

How do I provide library resources to students at a distance?

  • Providing links to journal articles is a great way to get students involved in self-directed learning. However, students at a distance might not be able to access those resources if they're not put in your ACORN course correctly. If you're planning on putting links to articles in your course, please review the following instructions on how to ensure all students can access them: Instructions on creating stable links
  • Acadia's Library has put together some tutorials you may find useful, or that you may want to share with your students.
    • Topics include: How to access online databases, How to find and use library subject guides, How to online reference help, How to create stable links to e-resources, How to find e-books and How to create stable links to e-books. Click here to access the tutorials

How do I interact virtually using video and audio in real-time with my students?

It may become necessary to be flexible with the synchronous delivery/interaction model. Consider making materials, activities and assessments available outside of the scheduled class time.

  • Microsoft Teams is an application available to all Acadia’s faculty and students. It can be used to conduct class discussions either through video/audio or text-based discussions
  • The Chat tool in ACORN also allows you to create a classroom chatroom

How do I create a recorded lecture?

  • You can record video using a built-in webcam on your computer or laptop, a USB connected webcam, or even your phone.
  • If videos are short and the file size is small (MAX 500 MB/file) (in your course settings under Files and uploads), they can be uploaded directly to ACORN.
  • For any significant videos, you will need to upload the video to YouTube (creating an account if you don’t already have one). When uploading the video, make sure it is marked as unlisted under the settings. Copy the link to the video and paste it on your ACORN homepage.
  • The tutorial below teaches you how to:
    • create a video directly from PowerPoint (PC)
    • create a screen capture video from PowerPoint (PC)
    • create a screen capture video using Quicktime on Mac (iOS)

How do I deliver a narrated PowerPoint presentation?

  • Add instructor notes to the Notes section in PowerPoint and share the presentation with students on ACORN
  • Record an audio lecture using your cellphone or other free software and upload it along with the presentation (perhaps making reference to “slide 1, the first point here…” etc.)
  • Record a screen-capture lecture in PowerPoint. Click here for instructions.

How do I add other content to my course?

  • Ensure that Editing is turned on in your course (click on the Settings gear in the top right of your course homepage)
  • Drag and drop files onto the homepage
  • Add an Activity/Resource” to add files, media, webpages (for significant text), URLs (links to videos, websites, other learning technologies you’re using, etc.)

Assessment

Online students are assessed in ways that are similar to the face-to-face classroom. Be sure to regularly evaluate student work and provide feedback in a timely manner to keep your students on track toward achieving course learning objectives.

How do I choose the right assessment tools?

Similar to answering the question of which communication tool is best, this may need to be decided on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on the type of assessment you’re hoping to conduct.

  • Assignment Online Text: This ACORN application is useful for conducting short, informal activities/participation questions/informal discussion questions etc. You give students a question/problem to consider, and it provides them with a textbox and the full text editing toolbar to record an answer. You can then review these responses and provide feedback, all in ACORN
  • Assignment Dropbox: This ACORN application creates secure file-exchange dropboxes between you and every student in your course. This is a great way to receive assignments of all types from students and provide them with a grade and written feedback.
  • Turnitin 2: This tool works in coordination with ACORN’s Assignment application and allows you to open a student’s assignment in a pdf editor with a suite of tools that allow you to annotate/mark up assignments, eliminating any paper exchange. Turnitin will also conduct a plagiarism check and generate an originality report on any similarities it detects.
  • Quiz: The ACORN quiz tool has numerous question types which can be customized according to the type of assessment faculty are trying to administer. It is a powerful assessment tool above and beyond what its name suggests. Many of the quiz question types are automatically graded, while some (including the essay question) must be graded manually by the instructor.

How do I create and issue quizzes in ACORN?

If you’ve never created an ACORN quiz before, contact ltid@acadiau.ca for support.

How do I evaluate and provide feedback to online students?

Feedback from instructors to their students is one of the most important components of education. You can provide meaningful feedback to conversations happening in discussion forums or chatrooms, or on student assignments, quizzes, tests, etc.

  • ACORN will prompt you to provide written feedback on any assignments uploaded via the Assignment application, and any manually marked questions in Quizzes.

How do I get paper-based assessments that cannot be easily digitized from students? (drawings, equations, graphs, etc.)

  • Office Lens is a tool available to all faculty and students. The app is free and available on both Android and iPhone. It works like a scanner for paper-based assessments, and is capable of converting images taken into pdf documents that can be uploaded via ACORN. It can also create multi-page pdf documents. Click here for more information about Office Lens.

Resources & Support

How-to Tutorials

More to come, but for now all support requests should be directed to ltid@acadiau.ca.