Resources for moving classes online available from Center for Teaching

The Center for Teaching is making available a number of resources for faculty and other instructors as they move elements of their classes online following Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente’s announcement that Vanderbilt classes will move to alternative instruction starting March 16.

One starting place for faculty is the Center for Teaching’s “Dealing with the Unexpected” guide. The guide walks through several options for teaching continuity when teachers or students can’t make it to class, including technologies useful for sharing course content, hosting class discussions, and interacting with students.

The Center for Teaching recommends that faculty consider two particularly useful technologies for teaching continuity.

  • Video conference tools allow instructors to conduct and record live class sessions or office hours. Vanderbilt now has two options for video conferencing: Virtual Classroom is a tool within BrightSpace, and Zoom Business is an app that can be used for any collaboration including instruction. The tools can be accessed and used by instructors and students through Brightspace. Instructions for teaching with Virtual Classroom or Zoom can be found on the Center for Teaching’s Brightspace support site.  Instructions for using Zoom for meetings will be available soon on VUIT’s webpage.
  • Kaltura Capture is a screencasting tool that allows instructors to create simple video lectures that can be shared with students. Instructors can use the tool to replace some of the lectures and explanations they might provide in class or during office hours. The tool is integrated in Brightspace, and guides to using Capture also can be found on the Brightspace support site.

For instructors interested in more detailed suggestions for moving their teaching online using Brightspace, the Brightspace support blog features a very helpful post called “Putting some of your course content online in a hurry? We have resources for you!” The post includes suggestions for those teaching seminar and discussion-based courses, those teaching lecture and larger courses, and those teaching other kinds of courses. Shifting to online instruction requires substantive communication between teachers and students on a regular basis, and the Brightspace post provides a variety of options for instructors for that communication.

Faculty with questions about technologies and techniques for alternative instruction are encouraged to check out the Center for Teaching’s on-demand Brightspace resources, which include text and video tool guides, or reach out for support by phone or email. Additionally, on March 11 and following, the Provost’s Office of Faculty Affairs is hosting a workshop led by staff from the Center for Teaching and VUIT called “Tools for Putting Your Teaching Online.” Some of these sessions will be available for remote participants via Zoom, and a recording of the workshop will be available on the Brightspace support page. Please see the Office of Faculty Affairs list of workshops for details.

“Moving mid-semester to alternative forms of instruction can be challenging,” said Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching. “Fortunately, we have some useful tools and resources to help faculty and other instructors practice just-in-time online teaching.” Bruff advises faculty members to be flexible and patient, both with themselves and their students.

Stacey Johnson, assistant director for educational technology at the Center for Teaching, recommends that faculty “keep their expectations realistic, capitalize on technologies they are already using, and get help from colleagues.” She also recommends that faculty use this week, during which classes are cancelled, to experiment with different teaching modalities in advance of teaching online next week, and to communicate with students about remote learning.

Bruff recommends that faculty read the Center for Teaching’s “Teaching in Times of Crisis” guide. “It’s a helpful reminder that many of us have taught through challenging times in the past, and it suggests some simple steps instructors can take to make things a little easier on themselves and their students,” he said.

Bruff also suggests “Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID-19,” a blog post written by Aimi Hamraie, assistant professor of medicine, health and society, that outlines strategies for designing online course materials to be as accessible as possible.