Teaching Tips & Toolbox
Below is a collection of useful tips and resources that can help you prepare for and succeed in the coming year. Click on each heading to see the related information.
This year in particular, it is critical that you have a backup strategy and clear communication plan to share with your students should you or they experience technical issues.
- Login to review your class lists at https://central.acadiau.ca.
- You can also view your students in your ACORN courses in the left-hand menu under Participants.
- Class list Excel files can be generated from your ACORN courses by using the Export Class List block on the right.
- If your class size exceeds your classroom capacity, you will need to decide how to best accommodate everyone. Here are some possibilities to consider:
- Divide students into groups based on classroom capacity. Rotate the groups through your class schedule, giving each group an opportunity to be there in person while the others are attending/completing work virtually/asynchronously.
- Poll your students at the beginning of the term and ask what their preferences for the fall are with regards to being in person, or attending online. Further decisions about how to accommodate everyone can be made once you have the results of the poll.
Note: Prior to your first class, we strongly recommend scheduling a practice session with your students.
The LTID Team has created an online course called Adapting Your Course For Remote Delivery. Available to all Acadia faculty, this is a comprehensive course containing information about all aspects of course development, from creating a remote delivery syllabus, all the way down to recommendations on how to create dynamic online summative assessments. The course is full of Acadia specific advice on how to best use ACORN and Teams to your advantage in the upcoming term. If you are not already enrolled in the course and would like to be, please email email@example.com to request access.
Tuesday, September 8th 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Microsoft Teams Overview
In this session we will be covering some of the basic functionality in Microsoft Teams, including things like teaching live classes, recording class sessions to make them available for virtual students, coordinating office hours with students and more.
In this session, you will...
Review the basic functionality within Teams, including how to screen share and deliver presentations
Learn how to both schedule meetings and meet with individuals privately
Clarification on terms used in Teams and how they relate to functionality
An opportunity to ask questions about how to do specific things in Teams
Thursday, September 10th 9:30 am - 11:30 am
ACORN (Moodle) Q & A
In this session, we will review some of the common and useful applications available in ACORN and discuss how to use these to create a dynamic online environment to support your courses. We will also discuss the merits of using ACORN as a central location where students can find course materials and clarification about assignments and expectations.
In this session, you will...
- Learn how to add content to your course
- Review applications that may be useful for conducting formative assessment
- An opportunity to ask questions about how to do specific things in your ACORN courses
Tuesday, September 15th 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
ACORN (Moodle) Quizzes
In this session, we will discuss how to use the Quiz activity in ACORN to create a variety of types of assessments in ACORN. The Quiz activity is a very flexible and dynamic tool that comprises a number of different question types that can be used to engage students in informal or formative assessments, such as review, practice, or comprehension quizzes, as well as to administer higher stakes assessments, like midterms and final exams.
In this session, you will...
- Gain the skills to create dynamic online assessments
- Learn about the various question types available in Quizzes
- An opportunity to ask questions about how to create specific kinds of assessments for your ACORN courses
Wednesday, September 16th 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Copyright in the Time of COVID-19
Can you show a film on Acorn? Can you post journal articles for your students online? Can students post YOUR materials online? This session will guide you through the copyright issues arising from our everyday activities as teachers and researchers, as well as the copyright issues arising from the unusual circumstances of teaching remotely due to the pandemic.
In this session, you will...
- learn to use copyright material without infringing creators’ rights
- learn YOUR rights as a user and creator of copyright material
- learn how to retain and protect the rights to your own published works.
Thursday, September 17th 9:30 am - 11:00 am
Jump Start Your Term – Open Discussion with your Colleagues
This session is an opportunity to come together as a community and discuss with your peers your upcoming plans and/or concerns with regards to teaching in the fall term. We hope that you will share both your course delivery plans and any teaching strategies you intend to use with us.
In this session, you will...
- Engage in open dialogue with peers across campus about the upcoming fall term
- Contribute to cross-disciplinary conversations
- Participate in an open forum where everyone is welcome to share ideas and problem-solve together
Below is a summary of information regarding some of the technology you might use during the fall term.
Making your ACORN courses visible
All courses in ACORN are hidden from students until you Show them. You can find instructions on this page under Making A Course Visible.
Contacting Students via ACORN
There are two main ways to contact your students through ACORN:
- Each course has the Quickmail block. Messages sent from here go out through email and responses come back to your email address as set up in ACORN. Details on using Quickmail can be found on this page. Points to ponder:
- Messages sent through Quickmail will come from firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a side-effect of a recent change to help protect the privacy of students. Please include your email address in your messages so that students will be able to reply to you.
- Messages sent through Quickmail will be saved, including related information such as recipients, date, and time.
- Each course has a Forum called Announcements (previously called News forum). Because all course participants are automatically subscribed to this Forum, each post gets sent to everyone by email. Points to ponder:
- Announcements posted when the course is HIDDEN will NOT be emailed to students.
- Posts to Announcements will remain in the Forum, allowing students to go back and read them again.
Setting up your ACORN Courses
Here are some useful guides:
- Faculty Guide To Teams
- Technical Success With Teams
- New Student Checklist (accounts and software setup)
Effective Monday, September 1st - all Class Teams will be automatically created and populated in Microsoft Teams in accordance with the Registrar’s Office.
- Instructions on how to Activate Your Class Team
- UPDATE AS OF SEPTEMBER 10th: We now have confirmation that manually added TAs will NOT be removed by that automatic updates that keep your Class Teams populated.
- If you’re co-teaching with other instructors, please email email@example.com and ask to have your co-teachers added to your course. You should see the co-instructor in your course within a day.
- For those using metacourses (merging multiple sections of a course) in ACORN, we are currently recommending you do not use or activate your per course team. Instead, create a manual Class Team as a metacourse for all of your classes.
- Create your Class Team manually (EG. BIOL 1111 A1-D1). (From the Teams tab in the left-hand menu select “Join or create a team”. Choose Create Team and select the Class Team type)
- Once your Class Team has been created, you need to add students to the Team. It is possible to add students manually (Teams will prompt you to do this right after you create your Class team) but you can also simply send students a link to the team via e-mail or your ACORN Announcements Forum. This allows students to request access to the Team. You will be notified in Teams and via email of the student’s request to join, and you can then accept it in Teams.
- To ensure there are no delays in students’ ability to access the Teams, we recommend that you schedule a time a few days before the first class to run a test class and ensure that everyone can connect properly.
- Video on providing a Class Team Link to students
- Add your co-teachers and/or TAs to your course metacourse.
We recommend that you post your Class Team link to your ACORN course. This link can be found by selecting the ellipsis (…) beside your Class Team and selecting “Get Link to Team.” Make a note in your syllabus for students to join the team as soon as possible to avoid a large number of students trying to join last-minute.
More information about Teams and its functionality is available in the Adapting Your Course For Remote Delivery course. If you are not already enrolled, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request access.
Teaching Kits (Camera and Tripod)
To request a camera and tripod kit for your period of teaching, please fill out the form here. The kits are limited. If you have already booked your teaching kit you can make arrangements to pick it up via this link.
Once you get your webcam, you may want to book a classroom session to practice using it in coordination with Teams. To book time in a classroom, please email email@example.com. Once you have a classroom booked you can set up a meeting with a friend or colleague for a trial run.
When you get your webcam, you should:
- shut your computer down,
- plug the webcam into a USB port,
- turn your computer back on,
- start Teams, and
- start a video call with a friend or colleague.
Once the video call starts, make sure your webcam is turned on. Your laptop camera is likely being used by default, so you will need to check your settings. Click ... (More actions) on the control bar at the top of the Teams window and select Device settings (view image). You will have dropdown lists for your camera, microphone, and speaker. Select the USB camera and the USB mic (view image). It might take a few seconds for your camera microphone to get in sync with the noise cancellation software. If it takes more than a few minutes, shut down and restart.
Effectively managing your video and audio
Please see our recommendations page for managing your online class time by accessing the Communicate – Live Sessions page in Adapting Your Course for Remote Delivery. If you are not already enrolled, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request access. This module includes tips for reducing stress on your internet connection. We strongly recommend asking your students to enter your class with their camera and microphone off/muted. This will reduce any disruption from feedback and impact of slower internet connections. A good practice is to maintain most cameras/microphones off unless students are called upon or raise their hand to ask questions. As an instructor, you can ask students to turn on their mic and/or video while speaking. You can also force-mute their mics if they forget.
The chat feature is also a great method of communication during the class to allow for student questions or comments. If you find it difficult to monitor the class chat during your live sessions, it may be a good idea to designate a Chat Monitor. This role can be assigned to a TA or student and can rotate from class to class.
Making your Videos as Accessible as Possible
It is important to remember that not all students have equal access to internet services, and as such, it is important to consider how accessible your course materials are. We have pulled together some recommendations around how to make your videos as accessible as possible. Access the document here.
New Teams Experience Setting
If your Teams installation is up-to-date, you should now be seeing the new Teams experience. If you don't, go here for instructions.
Once enabled, calls and meetings will pop out into their own window, separate from the main Teams window, allowing you to run your meetings and calls while still having full access to your chats and notifications.
Also, note that your control bar is now docked at the top of your Teams meeting window.
How to deliver a PowerPoint presentation in Teams
If you are delivering a PowerPoint presentation during your class time, there are many ways to do it, but we would recommend the following:
- With a dual monitor setup
Run your presentation on the external monitor or class projector. Then in a Teams video meeting open the sharing tray and select the presentation screen.
- With a single monitor setup
Upload your PowerPoint into a OneDrive folder. Then in a Teams video meeting open the sharing tray, click Browse, select OneDrive and find your presentation.
Online Assessments and Examinations
It is important that you let us know when you have online assessments, especially midterms and final examinations, so we can monitor the system and be ready to provide support. For final exams, We can assist you in setting up your online midterms and final exams, but we need you to make the request well in advance of the test date.
To beat the rush, please complete this form as soon as your assessments are ready and we can assist you.
Develop your backup plan and communicate it to your students
This year, it is critical to have a backup strategy and clear communication plan to share with your students should you or they experience technical issues during a live session. You may want to share the Independent Troubleshooting for Students guide with your students.
We recommend using the Announcements forum in your ACORN course or your Class Team general channel to notify students of issues. Let your students know in your syllabus how and when to reach out for help. Ideally, recording your class sessions will enable you to provide any students having technical issues with an option to review the class when they have resolved their issues. Please refer to the Technical success with Teams article. Feel free to share this link with your students.
- Lectures may be recorded by an instructor only if a declaration has been made advising those in attendance, whether physically or virtually, that a recording is being made.
- Students may not record any portion of a lecture without the prior and explicit permission of the instructor. Students requiring accommodation should contact their instructor and the students’ identity should not be disclosed. Students requiring accommodations must make arrangements with Accessible Learning Services by email at email@example.com, or by phone at (902) 585-1291, (902) 585-1605, or (902) 585-1823.
- You are encouraged to include a statement regarding the recording of lectures in your course outline and to explain the policy during the first class.
- Instructors should also communicate to their students how the recorded lecture material may be used or distributed.
- Students must be given the option to opt out of the recorded lectures without penalty. This can be achieved by designating an area of the teaching space that will not be visible on the recording, and by providing students who do not wish to be seen or their voice to be recorded an alternative means of participating and asking questions (e.g. turning off their video, asking questions by email, during office hours, or through a private chat with the instructor.
- Draft statements for your consideration will be included in the policy document.
Questions about adhering to privacy guidelines in a specific context may be directed to the University’s Privacy Officer (902) 585-1142.
How to access academic software
Academic software has been moved to SharePoint and the drive P: location is no longer valid. Please update any references to reflect the new location as noted in this article https://acadiau.sharepoint.com/sites/projects/VFR
Hybrid and Face-Face Courses
For those of you offering some form of in-person, on-campus instruction, as you are aware the capacities of classrooms have been drastically reduced to adhere to current COVID-19 health protocols: Class Room Capacity
Within the current standard inventory of rooms, there are only three that have been deemed to have a capacity of over 40. This presents a serious challenge in our ability to host our full slate of hybrid (the majority of) classes. The suggested approach has instructors staying within the rooms that have been currently assigned and breaking the class into assigned day-per-week groups that would allow for space in the class. For example, an instructor has a Tuesday/Thursday offering in a classroom with a new modified capacity of 22 and an enrolment of 40. The instructor splits the class in half (alphabetically, randomly, or in some other fashion) with a Tuesday face-to-face group and a Thursday face-to-face group. The alternate-day group would participate virtually.
If this is not workable based on class enrolment, pedagogical needs, or any factors, please email the Registrar’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the fall term quickly approaches, we thought we would provide a brief update on some of the teaching and technology-related considerations we’ve been engaging with faculty about over the summer.
To view Acadia’s key fall term dates, please see the Registrar's Office website.
For technical support, Learning Technologies & Instructional Design (LTID) and Technology Services (TS) are available for consultation:
- If you’re having issues with ACORN, email email@example.com. If you have questions regarding pedagogy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are having issues with your device, any Office 365 applications, or other software, please contact TS:
- Live chat (for students and faculty). For an overview of TS Support, please see the following HUB article: TS Support Protocol
- If you’re teaching a face-to-face class in a classroom and experience technical difficulties, the phone in the classroom will be functioning. Simply pick it up and you will be connected with someone in TS.
If students experience technical issues during class time, it will not likely be possible to assist them at that time. Please make sure your students know how to contact Technology Services for initial triage of any issues they might be having. You may also want to consider providing your students with independent troubleshooting instructions in case things do not go as planned. Feel free to use our Independent Troubleshooting Guide for Students.
The Writing Centre offers free help to students wanting to improve their writing skills. You can sign up online today:
- To book a one-to-one appointment with a trained writing tutor, click on this link.
- To see which helpful presentations and workshops you’ll want to attend this year, click on this link.
Please also consider using the resource developed with colleagues in the Library – the “ASK” referral service, which you can access from your ACORN course page – it lets you refer a student to get the help they need.
The Coordinator also offers individual appointments for thesis students (honours or graduate) throughout the year and consultations for faculty members seeking advice on topics such as designing course assignments that have a writing component or writing effective grant applications. The Coordinator is also available to visit a number of classes each term to lecture on various aspects of effective academic writing and research.
Please note: the Writing Centre will be a virtual resource this year. For more information on how that will work, visit the website using this link.
Here’s to a happy and productive term!
View our Teaching Strategies Page for further information regarding tools and techniques relating to communication, content delivery and assessment. This page also provides tutorials and support resources including how to use Moodle (ACORN) and Microsoft Teams to support your course delivery.
There are also several how-to articles related to Teams and its functionality in the Technology Services HUB Portal.