Teaching Your Class Remotely

When faculty and students are unable to meet in the same room due to an emergency, the University supports several readily available technology-assisted alternatives for teaching a class remotely. The resources on this page will provide guidance, strategies, and resources for leveraging technology to keep courses running.

Getting Started

Logistics

Instructor Resources

Student Resources

Support Services

GETTING STARTED

It is important to be prepared. Consider what a realistic goal for continuing instruction.

  • Sign-up for campus alerts at My.Framingham.edu .
  • Obtain your students' phone numbers from Starfish.
  • Establish a mode of communication to use in case of emergency (with your students and department).
  • Share your syllabus in a digital and accessible format on Blackboard.
  • Communicate expectations, including how you will communicate online, share course documents, class lectures, hold discussions, collect student work, grade their submissions, and hold office hours.
  • If you need support, direct general support questions to IT@framingham.edu.

LOGISTICS


Students will look to faculty for guidance and assistance. In your communications, be timely and specific about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations.

Technology Requirements

The following equipment is recommended. The recommended laptop supported by IT meets these requirements. Testing the technology in advance of an emergency is always advised.

  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • Internet connection– either commercially provided (ex. Comcast, FiOS), or a wireless hotspot through your mobile device
  • Microphone-either built into your laptop or computer or an external device such as a USB microphone or headset
  • Laptop or desktop computer, connected to the Internet your laptop, but you can also use an external USB camera for video conferencing
  • Use Blackboard to Teach Remotely

Using Blackboard to Host Remote Classes

At the start of every semester, a new Blackboard "course shell" is created for every course in the catalog. If you have never used Blackboard, but are interested in giving it a try, look for the Blackboard 101 course to learn the basics for uploading materials or to refresh a specific skill. If you do not have access, email eto@framingham.edu.

Consider Course Navigation

Be straightforward with the way you set up your materials in your Blackboard course. If possible, agree on an organization structure for your department. Chunking materials, including readings, assignments, and assessments, into separate folders, will also make it easier for students to find what they need to accomplish and have a better sense of deadlines.

INSTRUCTOR RESOURCES

There is more than one approach to teaching a course remotely. The information included in this section considers meeting types and teaching preferences and focuses on the ability to continue class using a familiar approach to teaching. Links to tutorials and other resources are included to guide the experience. If additional assistance is needed, contact eto@framingham.edu.

Communicate with Students

There are multiple ways to share time-sensitive announcements or reminders to any group of students in a class. Standard tools familiar to most faculty include:

  • The Blackboard Announcement tool appears on the first page of the course and may also be shared via email.
  • Blackboard's Send Email option allows you to email to a single student, groups of students, or to all students in a class. It is listed under Course Tools.
  • Student phone numbers are available through Starfish and may also be an option if the student is out of reach of their computer.

Deliver Real-Time Class Meetings

BLACKBOARD COLLABORATE ULTRA is a tool in every Blackboard course and opens right in your browser, so you don't have to install any software to join a session. Collaborate Ultra is used to hold virtual class meetings, share content, hold virtual office hours, and bring in guest speakers to your course in real-time.
Common usages of Blackboard Collaborate include:

  • communicate with video, voice, or chat (in any combination)
  • add files
  • screen-share applications
  • use a virtual whiteboard to interact
  • work in groups

For best performance, use an updated version of the Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browser. If assistance is needed with the tool, reference the following online resources:

Faculty are invited to review these references or contact the Education Technology Office if help is needed.

Schedule Asynchronous Discussions

Asynchronous discussions are discussions that occur without people being in the same place at the same time. The University supports two options in Blackboard for class discussions: the native Discussion Board tool, and a relatively new tool called VoiceThread. Both are used for engaging students in conversation around a specific topic and should be set up initially by an instructor.

Blackboard Discussion Forum

The Blackboard discussion board allows participants to carry on threaded text-based discussions without being online at the same time. Discussion Forums may be created to allow for separate discussions on different topics or broken into group discussions where only members of the group may access the conversation. It is also possible to require students to post a response before seeing other students' posts.

Suggested Use Cases for Using a Discussion Board:

  1. Instructor posts a topical question and students respond to the question
  2. Instructor has students post their work so other students can see it and provide feedback
  3. Students post reading responses
  4. Students post anonymous posts; if the content is more important than the who posted the remark

For assistance using the Discussion Board, reference the Blackboard Help Page for Creating Discussions on Blackboard.

VoiceThread Asynchronous Discussions

VoiceThread is a relatively new tool we added to Blackboard. It may be used to host asynchronous discussions, present class materials, and invite discussion on those materials, as well as for student presentations. VoiceThread allows for multiple modes of participation in discussions by allowing responses as video, audio, text, or any combination. This bridges the gaps in social presence typically found in online courses by allowing all participants to see and hear the presenter, as well as their presentation, image, or other course materials. For anyone with disabilities, all videos are closed-captioned.

Suggested Use Cases for VoiceThread Include:

  • Class introductions
  • Faculty-led course tour
  • Student presentations
  • Debate and discuss issues on a specific topic

Reference these links to create a discussion thread in VoiceThread:

Reference these links to organize student presentations using VoiceThread.

Record Lectures

Panopto is a tool integrated into Blackboard used to record audio, video, and your computer screen. It may also store pre-recorded PowerPoint presentations when saved in an MP4 format. The resources below may be used to get started or contact ETO (eto@framingham.edu) for additional assistance.


Follow these steps to create a recorded PowerPoint lecture:

  1. First, you will need to add audio to slides on the desktop version of PowerPoint
  2. Once you have your narration set for your presentation, save your PowerPoint as a video
  3. To be able to upload your video make sure your Blackboard Course is configured with Panopto


Upload your recording from your computer to Panopto

  1. In the course, go to Course Tools and select Panopto Content
  2. Click the green Create button at the top of the screen
  3. Select Upload Media and then locate and upload your video

Note: These same tools can be made available to students to present their work. Please contact eto@framingham.edu for information on how to set this up in your course.

Additional Resources

Manage Assessments

Blackboard's Assignment, Test, and Rubric tools are available in every course space.

Assignment Tool

The Assignment tool may be used to collect student work and grade it from the Blackboard Grade Center with feedback or using an attached rubric. Group project submissions are also possible within the LMS.

Blackboard Test Tool and Lockdown Browser

The Blackboard Test tool allows instructors to create assessments. These assessments can have time limits or be able to be taken multiple times for softer reaching checks. Questions and questions options can be randomized, and instructors can pull questions from a publisher or self-created test banks easily. For higher stakes assessments, instructors can require the use of Lockdown Browser or Respondus Monitor to emulate a proctored assessment environment.

Manage Lab Activities

The challenge of teaching a lab during a building or campus closure is sustaining the lab components of a class. Since many labs require specific equipment, they are hard to reproduce outside of that physical space. Considerations for short-term closures might include:

  • Moving aspects of lab activities online, particularly those that require students to familiarize themselves with procedures or data analysis or manipulation.
  • Providing video demonstrations of techniques, online simulations, analysis of data, and other pre- or post-lab work to prepare students to hit the ground running when the campus reopens.

STUDENT RESOURCES

Look to your instructor for guidance on how you will complete course work. Ask for information on the class schedule, how you are expected to communicate, attend class, and how you will submit assignments.

  • Sign-up for campus alerts from My.Framingham.edu to stay informed.
  • Know who to contact in case of an emergency.
  • Download your class syllabus from each course site to understand expectations.
  • If support is needed, direct general questions to IT@framingham.edu.

Blackboard

Blackboard is the University learning platform. If you are new to the University or need a refresher on the tools, log in to Blackboard and enroll in the Blackboard 101 course in advance of any emergency. Not all faculty will use Blackboard, so ask questions if you are unsure of expectations.


Email

The University will communicate using your Framingham State University email. Log in often to check for updated information.

Technology

A computer linked to the Internet may be needed to complete your course work. Know what technology is available to you if you are not on campus. If you anticipate a problem, communicate with your instructor.


Become familiar with the communication tools in Blackboard, in case you are asked to participate in a discussion, join a real-time chat, or record a video. Links to these tools are in the Blackboard 101 site as a place to get started.

SUPPORT SERVICES


Self-Service Training

Blackboard 101 for Faculty is a self-directed course for instructors who wish to learn the basics of building a course or refresh a specific skill. The course is organized into five modules that may be viewed sequentially or by topic. To gain access to the course, email eto@framingham.edu.


Blackboard 101 for Student 
is also a self-paced introductory course to learn to navigate and submit assignments on Blackboard. You must be logged into Blackboard to access the resource. Once students enroll in Blackboard 101, the course will appear in the My Courses list. The instructions to enroll can be found on the Blackboard home page once you are logged in to Blackboard.


General Technology questions may also be addressed to IT@framingham.edu.


SOURCES

Information shared in this document was pulled from multiple sources listed below. Framingham State extends our appreciation to these institutions.


University of Maryland 
Indiana University 
Emergency Remote Guidelines – Shared Resources