Texas Tech University

Advice from Teaching Academy Members in Response to the COVID-19 Remote Teaching Environment

The following suggestions, examples, strategies and words of encouragement are provided by Teaching Academy Members to help fellow colleagues in their transition to remote teaching. If you have questions you would like to submit, please do so here.

Active breakout group sessions on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
Julie Chang, Hospitality and Retail Management

I believe this unprecedented event makes everyone to be a little nervous, but this can also be a great opportunity to interact with students even more actively in the virtual platform. Are your students working on the group projects? Or do you want your students to discuss any topics more actively online? I am using the breakout group session function on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and it worked really well for this 1st week of the virtual class. I started my class with the lecture and then students went to the breakout sessions (During this time, I went to the different breakout sessions to meet different groups). And finally, we met back in the main room to wrap up the class.

Here is the link for more detailed information how to set it up.
https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator /Moderate_Sessions/Breakout_groups

If you have a big class, it might be even harder to see who attend the class and what they are doing during the class time. This breakout session provides me to meet students closely and interact with them actively. You can let them in and out to the different groups and the main room, or you can set it up to make them choose which breakout session to go. And it's important to have/assign a session leader (moderator) for each breakout session. This is not about using the technical tool, but to make your class to be interactive in the virtual setting. I believe you can implement this function for the different types of class activities as well.

Good luck and hope you all successfully teach and interact with students virtually for the rest of the semester!

An Example Email & Blackboard Collaborate Instructions
Mitzi Ziegner, Human Development & Family Studies

What an extraordinarily challenging time! This is a copy of an email I sent to one of my face to face classes to help them prepare for the steps in our transition next week from face to face to online learning. I know many faculty will be reaching out to their students with plans this week if they have not already.

Please know I am here and happy to assist if I can be helpful in any way…we are ALL in this together!

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Guide_Ziegner
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Guide Presentations_Ziegner
online transition email example for face to face students_Ziegner

Communication with Students, Zoom Preparation and More…
Chris Smith, Musicology

A few items, accrued over about the past two weeks. These materials reflect responses & strategies I'm seeking to put in place in advance of March 30.

Here's a link to an online form, borrowed with permission from a hard-sciences prof at NYU, asking students themselves to describe both their resources and their concerns regarding working online. "https://forms.gle/43c5UvNCkBtr48zm7

If you would like to view an .xls download (from Google Forms) of their responses (highly revealing I think), please email micah.m.logan@ttu.edu.

Here is a collection of links to various docs gathered from around the web, specific to teaching performance arts online:

Basic jump-start for working with Zoom host controls:

Solo practice session. The chat window in this recording has a bunch of notes. If you want another run-through on the various controls work, I'd suggest that you scroll through the chat window, and use the time-stamp on various notes to read up and/or view at those points. Again, there's not much but video-conferencing (landscape headshot) on the screen, but the chat functions as a reasonable jump-start to controls. https://zoom.us/rec/play/uJR-I-uqqzg3S4WQtASDAPUoW9Xrevmsg3NN-KINnUmyBXYHNFv1Y7MXZLPVeSpR33FuWX7IcOLfWPEe?continueMode=true

Results of first “Zoom salon”: https://youtu.be/WMmxukskOM4

In addition, at the invitation of both TLPDC and Cathy Duran in Student Affairs, VMC is assembling a short series of 5-7:00 minute videos, one on health & wellness from Movement Director Anne Wharton, and the other on meditation and contemplative practices, from Angela Mariani. These will be added here when produced.

Consistent Student Communication
Angela Lumpkin

I have decided to send a weekly email message to my graduate students enrolled in SPMT 5320 Sport Management and in KIN 7305 College and University Teaching in Exercise Physiology. My goal is to maintain consistent communication with all of my students while teaching online. You might want to consider doing this. In addition to teaching synchronously using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, I will be using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Flipgrid to engage my students actively.

March 30
This week we will begin spending our class time together online rather than face-to-face. For some, you may never have taken an online course. For everyone, you have not had to resume a class in an entirely different delivery format. Together, we can work our way through this transition as smoothly as possible with the goal for each student to continue to learn as you successfully complete this course (and other courses) as a part of your M.S. in Sport Management with some students graduating in May.

Communication is essential. Starting today, I will send you a weekly message each Monday morning. This message will provide a reminder about any assignment deadline for Tuesday, a brief review of our previous class, and an overview of our class on Tuesday. I will be available for a virtual office hour on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra starting at 3 pm each Tuesday. To visit me during office hours, click on the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra sessions tab on the left and then click on course room to send me a message for my response. You also may send me an email message at any time, and I will always respond promptly, never later than 24 hours. Should you have any emergency need to contact me, you may call me at 806-500-6886. I encourage you to continue to communicate with classmates via social media. For example, when you are answering the questions of the assigned readings, feel free to “talk” with classmates prior to class.

Assignment Deadline
March 31 by 4 pm—Book report with associated rubric: Within Blackboard, click on the Assignments tab on the left. Click on Book Report. Scroll down after the description of this assignment where it states “Assignment Submission.” Click on Browse My Computer to upload your book report. Then, click on Submit.

Brief Review
March 10—Ethical Leadership: Leadership is about relationships with followers expecting ethical leaders to serve as ethical role models. Ethical leaders live their values, adhere to a set of principles, which are their values translated into action, and place ethical boundaries on their actions and the behaviors they expect their followers to demonstrate, too. Transformational leaders, servant leaders, and situational leaders can (and should) be ethical leaders.

Overview of Next Class on March 31

  • Complete discussion of Ethical Leadership with an emphasis on character, competence, and action and the ethical leadership continuum in intercollegiate athletics.
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Salovey and Mayer defined EI as “the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions.”
  • Learn about the scope and impact of IE as described by Daniel Goleman.
  • Understand about and learn to apply Goleman's four components of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
  • Discussion about Barbuto, Gottfredson, & Searle's “An Examination of Emotional Intelligence as an Antecedent of Servant Leadership.
  • Discussion about Hess & Bacigalupo.'s “Enhancing Decisions and Decision-making Processes through the Application of Emotional Intelligence Skills.”
    • Strategic Leadership
  • Learn what it is and why is it important.
  • Understand the skills and abilities required to become a strategic leader.
  • Discussion about Worden “The Role of Integrity as a Mediator in Strategic Leadership: A Recipe for Reputational Capital.”
  • Discussion about Sheth & Babiak's “Beyond the Game: Perceptions and Practices of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Professional Sport Industry.”
  • Assignment for next class: “Create your Own Story about Strategic Accomplishments.”

See everyone online at 4 pm via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra by clicking on the sessions tab at the top left and then click on March 31 to join in the class.
Angela Lumpkin

Creative approach to music instruction
Blair Williams, Music Education

I am so incredibly inspired by our community of learners during this time as we have creatively worked to adapt and adopt in our current situations.

Over Spring Break, I was in communication with other music education professors, our state and national professional associations, and colleagues (elementary, secondary, and higher education) across the country to gather ideas and resources. I worked with friends to experiment with applicable apps (Zoom, FlipGrid, Marco Polo, Google Classroom, etc.) that may be helpful in my teaching. I observed activity plans and read articles. I most definitely became overwhelmed with all of this information and ultimately worked to coordinate the learning objectives I had in place for each course with a more approachable game plan.

Personally, I have been working to move to remote teaching in four areas:

  1. TTU courses – I teach a variety of courses: Low String Methods (learning to play and teach the cello and double bass), Upper String Methods (learning to play and teach the violin and viola), Orchestra Techniques (how to teach string instruments in the classroom), Instrumental Conducting (building musical and expressive skills in score preparation, ensemble conducting, and ensemble rehearsing), Instrumental Methods/Ensemble for Choral Majors (co-taught, students just finished the winds, brass, percussion unit and are now in the string unit), and Methods in Education and Music (co-taught, practicum experience for music education majors prior to student teaching).
    1. In the courses where students are learning to play and teach a string instrument, we have made adjustments for them not having these instruments at home. There are resources from several textbook companies that include pre-recorded video links to strategies for skill development.
    2. We are also flipping the previous playing tests that they would have completed where I will model a typical student performance, and they will use error detection to identify the skill that is performed incorrectly and note a strategy that would help that student.
    3. For Conducting and Orchestra Techniques, we are able to adapt to remote by using additional audio recordings for the ensemble that the conductors would have conducted and videos of orchestra teaching that can be observed and analyzed.
    4. Especially in the methods classes and Orchestra Techniques – this has been a great time to learn from activities and posts on association websites and Facebook groups about how PreK-12 music teachers are adapting in this situation and to take their lead on adjusting our planned activities with their examples.
    5. In the practicum experience, we have created opportunities for the students to learn in a more global way – while before they were paired with local cooperating teachers for observations and teaching opportunities in elementary and secondary settings, now they can gather those observations from a more expansive space. We are encouraging students to observe in multiple types of settings but also in a variety of windows (videos of classroom teaching, but also collaboration with current teachers as they create remote learning activities and experiences for their current classes/students).
    6. For each of these classes, I am using a variety of Learning Management Systems – gearing from the systems that we already had in place for classes. Each provides a fluid way to make changes, communicate changes, and work with students to learn.
  2. The Texas Tech String Project – an outreach program that involves TTU faculty and students serving in the role of teachers of string instruments to area elementary and adult students. We have adapted a mixed asynchronous and synchronous approach. The university staff (faculty and students) work together to create instructional videos of instrument playing skills, exercises, and repertoire that are shared as unlisted YouTube videos for each class to work from throughout the week. Each student in the TTUSP also receives a certain number of private lessons/tutoring sessions per semester with their paid tuition. Those lessons are being taught remotely using Google Hangout, Zoom, FaceTime, or other video conferencing platforms that work best for the teachers and the students. We have also set up “check-in” times with our adult learners during their regular class times on Tuesdays and Thursdays for students to be able to connect with their teachers to ask specific questions and demonstrate and to gain verbal/visual feedback. Several teachers are also experimenting with apps such as “Marco Polo” and “FlipGrid” to have video performance sharing as well! It has been fun to see how our university faculty and students (TTUSP staff) have developed such creative ways continue their understanding of teaching and how to implement planning, teaching, and assessment in the remote setting! This coordination has also involved the administrators at our off-campus elementary school to connect with their technologies, resources, and schedules that are available for those students in the Violin Club. We are currently in week 1 – so I am eager to check in with our teachers in our staff meetings to see what they are seeing from the development of instructional videos and lessons.
  3. As a clinician and consultant for secondary orchestra programs – I continue to connect with orchestra programs across the state and the country. These interactions now are generally conversations with the teachers about resources, activities, strategies, and materials for teaching string orchestra remotely. Let me tell you that I am learning more and more from them! And serving as a connector from teachers with questions, to other teachers that I know are doing incredible work with that resource. I am then able to share these experiences with my TTU students in new ways!
  4. Personal private lesson instruction – I teach a handful of local students private viola lessons throughout the week. We began approaching those lessons remotely three weeks ago and we have found great success with both FaceTime and Google Hangouts video conferencing platforms. The platform depends on the device the student has. While there is some lag time in the playing back and forth, the students have negotiated using these online formats very well and teach me more each lesson as well!

In the end, I am trying to:

  • Breathe
  • Maintain a schedul
  • Provide additional office hours through Zoom Meetings for students
  • Balance asynchronous and synchronous expectations for students
  • Be clear and detailed in revisions and expectations – leaving time for questions and concerns from students that I may have not even thought of yet!
  • Be open and flexible as the situation remains fluid
  • Remain thankful for the resources that we have, the incredible students we teach, the amazing community of educators, researchers, and servants that we teach alongside – globally – each day

Wishing everyone all the best and if I can help in any way, please contact me! blair.williams@ttu.edu

Free Screen Recording Tool - Screencast-o-Matic
Courtney Meyers, Agricultural Education & Communications

Here is a quick video of Professor Meyers using Screencast-o-Matic to talk about how she is using Screencast-o-Matic to record lectures and tutorials for her class. This is a free tool for videos up to 15 minutes long. https://youtu.be/4QZLNlQvkn8

From the “whiteboard” to Zoom
Richard Watson, Computer Science

I am primarily a "whiteboard" teacher in the classroom. To adapt my teaching to online, I will be using Zoom to stream my lectures live (note: Zoom requires a license). My home desktop machine has a decent webcam and enough power to allow a "Virtual Background" so you don't see anything behind me except what I choose as the background, I also have a convertible tablet laptop that has a very good stylus. To use this as my "whiteboard", I create the Zoom session on the desktop and then connect to that session from the laptop (the laptop is using a zoom client, not logged on to my Zoom account). Furthermore, I use a blank, pre-made Word document with quite a few blank pages as my "whiteboard" rather than the whiteboard in Zoom - why? Because the Zoom whiteboard is a single board. By using Word I can scroll the board without having to erase. I can then save the document at the end of class and upload it on blackboard so students have access. To make the Word "whiteboard" viewable , on the laptop, I share that window to the Desktop session. Students see the shared whiteboard and a window with me speaking. If they have a microphone, they can ask questions verbally. If not, they can type a question. The result is very close to one of my in class lectures.

Game plan for a smooth transition
Carla Lacerda, Chemical Engineerin

  1. Expectations for exam format. For engineering students this may be a significant change, so changing planned exams into shorter assessments, such as regular or participation quizzes, may be needed for Blackboard. Finally, expectations for the final comprehensive exam. Many colleagues are changing to an open book, open notes format, where students may need to upload their scratch work as a pdf. This may also include entering the final answers on Blackboard and have students monitored by Proctorio, so that they are only consulting their materials and not each other or other sources. Whatever format that is, make sure this is understood by the class.
  2. Expectations on communication with the instructor. During this difficult time, students may need all types of technical support and the instructor is where they will go first, so be available (more below).
  3. Plan a few catch up meetings (during office hours) with the entire group and/or small groups. These serve to verify communication, connection speeds, if all students have the necessary media for the class, etc. These may also serve to discuss groupwork and to test run small assessments. These are important so that nobody falls off the cracks. Call on students for participation – these meetings are more relaxed, so they may feel less pressure.
  4. During lecture, use the digital whiteboard and/or share screen using a document camera (Ipevo products are affordable). My personal preference is to start with skeleton notes and have students work on the missing parts of the problem as I write and talk to them. I also include many pauses after asking questions, so it is important to announce that there will be a few seconds of silence – it is not a connection issue…
  5. Implement short participation quizzes during lecture, to keep students engaged. These can be “what is today's lecture about” or these can also be any active learning example from the regular lecture, now moved into a quick true or false question. Provide instantaneous feedback on these
  6. Keep the morale high, particularly if teaching underclassmen. Only by maintaining a sense of community these students will persevere during these unconventional times. This is particularly important for international and non-traditional students.
  7. Record all content. You may release these videos later as needed.

How I'm adapting to coronavirus pandemic and teaching online
Breanna Harris, Biological Sciences

When we got the official word to move online I was fortunate that I had one more class period with my students before the transition (afternoon of 3/12/2020). I scraped the planned activity for that day and instead had my nearly 300 students work in groups to answer a survey about our transition. I asked students to read over concerns/questions I had about our transition and then list additional concerns they had that I had not thought about. I also asked them how they felt we should handle various assignments and course logistics as we took our class online.

I compiled the answers provided by the students and used this feedback to rework our syllabus. The students had some great suggestions. I realize that we are now into online teaching but sending a quick survey (either via Google forms, blackboard, or another method) might be a helpful exercise. I will likely do an online survey in a few weeks to get an idea of how our online scenario is working.

Below are some of the things that I've done to move online:

It's not all about the tools
Melinee Lesley, Education

It's Not All About the Tools: Focus on Principles of Good Teaching Remember as you transition into online teaching that digital tools are great, but what students most need are the same principles of good teaching as you would utilize in a face-to-face course.

In my tips below, I discuss three important principles of good teaching and how I handle them in online learning:

  1. course design (e.g., objectives and learning modules),
  2. engagement (e.g., dialogue and synchronous sessions), and
  3. peer-mediated learning (e.g., writer's workshop)

The key is to find tools that help you maintain student engagement and interaction with the course content and help you to be present in all aspects of the course. The two things students complain the most about with online instruction are classes that feel like an independent study where they learn nothing they wouldn't have learned from reading the textbook for the class on their own, and not having any feedback or communication from faculty. Students do not care about how snazzy the digital tools are. They want online classes that emulate the same tenets of effective teaching that are present in a face-to-face environment.

Course Design:
Good online instruction begins with the overall organization and design of the course. It is critical to set up a learning environment that guides the actions of students from perfunctory aspects such as reviewing a syllabus to more complex activities such as managing a writer's workshop online. One way I have found to design my online classes to be effective is through a weekly learning module that students work through independently. The learning module always has stated objectives and guiding questions at the beginning. I also provide a letter to students that doubles as a reading guide where I point out key ideas I want them to focus on within their readings and embedded activities. I include supplemental readings that extend the required readings as well as links to videos and websites as appropriate. Sometimes I include power points over content I want students to have more depth of information about. These weekly modules conclude with reflection questions that synthesize concepts for students to ponder. I have found that having a consistent, weekly module is critical in designing an online course.

Engagement
In addition to weekly learning modules, I also hold scheduled synchronous class sessions through video conferencing tools such as Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Ultra, Skype, or Zoom. Video conferencing tools are designed to emulate face-to-face interaction. Video conferencing affords dialogue between you and students as well as among students. Engaging in small group activities is an important feature of video conferencing, too. I prefer to use Zoom. In the synchronous sessions, I always present new learning. Synchronous sessions should not be another re-hash of the learning module or assigned readings. Students need to see these sessions as vital to their learning in the course. Also, I include activities that I would implement in a face-to-face class such as practicing different writing methods or small group activities. All of these methods are designed to encourage student engagement through active participation.

Peer Mediated Learning Students need opportunities to learn from one another. To bring this about in an online learning environment, I utilize small group activities during synchronous sessions and writer's workshop in a discussion thread. I have moved away from general threaded discussions about class readings over the years because I have found them to be a lot of busy work for students that they are rarely engaged in. I do ask students to introduce themselves to the class at the beginning of the term through a threaded discussion. I also require students to participate in writer's workshop over writing assignments in the class through a threaded discussion. I divide students into groups at the beginning of the term for this purpose and assign them to their own small group thread. I also set deadlines for when to post a rough draft and provide peer-review questions for students to address about each others' work. I have found that organizing writer's workshop in this manner has been every effective and meaningful for students.

In summary, remember online instruction is ultimately not about the tools. It's about providing quality instruction--timely and detailed feedback, structure, expectations for student participation and performance, and engaging content.

Moving a lab-based, interactive physics class onlin
Beth Thacker, Physics

PHYS 1404-001 Interactive laboratory-based course, Socratic questioning pedagogy

We have moved a laboratory-based, completely interactive-engagement class (no lecture) online. We are meeting four days a week on our regular schedule, MTWR 9:30am-10:50am, online using Zoom. The students work in Breakout rooms and call an instructor (faculty member (me), grad and undergrad TAs) from the main room as needed for help or Checkpoints. They are using pHet lab simulations for the labs when available. When not available, we are using videos we make or online demo videos and sending them the data. It has been working fairly well (two days in). There was some overload on the TAs and me the first day and we still have some learning to do about breakout rooms and co-hosts, but we are catching on and getting used to Zoom. We are having to use all of the features of Zoom – breakout rooms, whiteboards, screenshare, etc.

Moving Tests & Discussions to a Digital Platform
Dom Casadonte, Chemistry & Biochemistry

I teach in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. My courses are all flipped, meaning that my students watch lectures on line and do homework before coming to class, where we have discussion and a deep dive into the material (I've included a book chapter I wrote a few years back to show that this approach works in many disciplines and works well). One of the advantages to the flipped classroom approach to teaching is that lectures and homework are already on line for asynchronous work. Moving to online for me, then, requires only a digital platform for discussions as well as a testing site. I've looked at a number of sites, and, more importantly, had some of my students tests sites with me. Blackboard Collaborate is good for classes with large numbers and where teaching is primarily through Power Point or PDF slides with little class interruption. We also looked at Zoom. It has a superior (in my opinion) student interface, a white board that can be partially erased (unlike Collaborate, where the entire board is erased at once (if someone knows how to change that, please let me know), and better audio and video characteristics. The disadvantage is that only (according to the website) 49 people can be engaged in a video format at any one time. This works well for me, since my classes are relatively small (25 students each). Regarding testing, I am switching my free response sections on my exams to all multiple choice. This I will handle through Proctorio, the Respondus Lockdown Browser (both on Blackboard, which I use a lot), or by e-mailing the exam and a fillable PDF which will be returned at the end of the exam period. I am lucky enough to be teaching Honors classes, and we have talked as a class a lot about the need for intellectual honesty, so I can probably get away with any of the three options.

Online Test Proctoring: Proctorio – Common Hiccups
Stephanie Lockwood, Biological Sciences

I've utilized Proctorio and other monitoring platforms for several online courses over the years, and they are wonderful in maintaining academic integrity. First, I will say following the “Proctorio Faculty FAQs” is quite handy. But there will still be some growing pains. There is one big student issue I see over and over each semester, and a few little things to consider.

The little things first: 1) Ensure you tell your students to wear clothes as they would a normal class. Yes, I've seen it and you don't want to. Do yourself a favor and put in a clothes policy ahead of time! 2) On the same note, perhaps consider a room requirement, i.e. not lying in bed for class. No, I haven't seen this one, but a friend suggested it. 3) Make sure to tell students to stay in frame of the camera and not to cover up the camera. Yes, I've seen this too. 4) Even though it is proctored please give students the benefit of the doubt when looking at the “flagged” results. No, I don't think a toddler or a dog is going to slip any conceptual or philosophical ideas, a cat perhaps. Watch the flagged video clips and watch what actually happened and don't just rely on the percentage it gives you. I have noticed in using different proctoring platforms Proctorio is more sensitive than others. I think students just knowing they are being observed keeps most students in line, granted I've observed the not so honest as well, but they are very few and far between.

Ok, the main thing I do observe every semester and not just on the first attempt at using Proctorio is the exam will ask students for a password. Even when I tell them there is no password, and to follow these steps, they will send you a screenshot showing you it's asking for a password. Nine out of ten times it is because they did not follow the steps thoroughly, and the add on is not engaged. On the “Proctorio Faculty FAQs” it states to make a link in your course for the “Secure Exam Proctor” tool. Put this link right above your exam in bold, red letters – Click Here First. Students must install the Proctorio google chrome add-on before they attempt to take the exam, but they must also click on that tool link to engage the add-on. If it is not engaged, the system with ask for a password. If it is not engaged, students will get the password error. Students will need to click on this tool before each exam. In every class on the first and second exam I spend time helping about 10% of the students with the same problem. Occasionally, a student might need to clear the cache in their browser. When 10% of the students are emailing you all at once it can be a bit overwhelming, but usually it can be easily managed.

Taking a Service Learning Course Online
Bob McDonald, Marketing

Please read the following PDF to see how Professor McDonald shifted an extremely active service learning course for an online, remote teaching environment.
MKT 4350 Adjustments Teaching Academy

For those of you for whom this is your first time teaching by distance: You can do it!!! You will be amazed how resilient your students are. They know that this is not optimum for anyone. Make them partners in the process, because we are all stakeholders. If you are worried about the synchronous aspect of things, save your notes as Power Point or PDF files and load them onto Blackboard and let the students read them asynchronously. Then you can spend whatever on line time you have in the discussion. The students are just as nervous as many of us are about this. They will help you if you let them. Also, if you have relatively small classes, let the students see each other at some point during the class. They were suddenly uprooted from their dorms, their friends, their academic way of life. We talked about it before spring break in my classes. My students want to see each other and to know that they are OK. If the platform you are using doesn't work for that, find another way for them to know that their friends are OK. Teaching is so much more than just having students learn facts and information. It is a way of teaching intellectual confidence. Part of that process, to me, requires that the students have confidence in their environment. These days, for this generation, that often means that they know that their friends are OK and are learning with them. So don't underestimate the social aspects of teaching while you are on line.

Good luck, everyone! The Teaching Academy members are ready to help and are just your favorite distance platform away...

Teaching, Learning, & Professional Development Center