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Three Simple Models for Going Online

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Consider these three simple options for moving your existing course to a fully online format with limited time and resources.

Option 1: Synchronous class sessions with Zoom

This option works especially well for small discussion-based classes, though it’s also effective for large lectures, especially if you have a moderator. Use Zoom web conferencing to hold synchronous class sessions when you are not able to meet in person.

Get started with Zoom

  • Visit Stanford UIT's Zoom site to download the Zoom application. 
    • The Teaching in Zoom FAQ is a great resource for learning about useful features and common use cases for teaching.  
  • Access Zoom conveniently from within your Canvas course site.
    • Log into your course and find Zoom on the side menu.
    • Click the blue Schedule button to set up your class meeting. Make sure the Recurring Meeting box is checked.
    • If you want to record your sessions (recommended for accessibility reasons and to help students with poor internet connections to catch up), check the Record automatically checkbox. 
    • Set up another meeting for your office hours. Don't set those to record.

Pedagogical recommendations for Zoom

  • Use slides and screen sharing within Zoom to make sure discussion questions are visible to students who may have a slow Internet connection or who may struggle to hear the audio for the initial question. (Look for the Share Screen button at the bottom of your Zoom window.)
  • On your first slide, display the agenda at the start of the class session so that students know what to expect from the shared time together.
  • Use the chat (bottom of your screen). See In-Meeting Chat.
    • Call attention to chat insightful or valuable comments in the chat. Help that student enter the conversation by inviting them to speak further on their comment.
    • For larger classes, assign a teaching fellow or TA to moderate the chat and make sure important questions and comments are addressed. Even for smaller classes, it may be worthwhile to ask a student (or two) to take on special roles as “chat monitors” to alert you if there are questions that arise that you may have missed.
    • You might use the chat to troubleshoot technical problems. For example, if a student is having trouble connecting to audio or video, the chat might be a space for you as the instructor or for fellow students to work together to problem-solve. This may, again, be an opportunity to assign a student to a special role, especially if you have students eager to help with the technical aspect of things. 
    • If you have a TA or a teaching fellow who can support the class instruction with technical help, this would also be a good person to respond to troubleshooting tips in the chat.
  • Use Zoom Breakout Rooms to help students talk in smaller groups (just as they would do break-out groups in a larger class environment). See Managing Video Breakout Rooms
  • Rethink your classroom activities to make the class more interactive, even if Zoom students don’t have ideal connections and aren’t able to hear and see everything perfectly.
    • Have students write and comment together on a shared Google Doc. 
    • Try using a live poll or Google Forms to collect student responses, and then share results with both in-person and online students. 
  • Consider making discussion prompts available in advance in Canvas, or elsewhere so that students can access the questions if screen sharing does not work. If sharing slides in advance to Canvas, share them as accessible PDFs, as students will be able to access the material on their phones. 

Zoom troubleshooting tips

  • If your microphone is not working, use the phone number listed in the Zoom invitation when you set up a Zoom call. You can use your phone as the microphone and audio source for your call rather than your computer’s built-in microphone, if necessary. 
  • If your Internet connection is slow or lagging, consider temporarily turning off your video stream and only maintaining the audio stream. Sometimes, running the web camera on your computer uses up network bandwidth, which slows or interrupts communication. Turning off the video should improve communication quality and consistency. 
  • If you have earbuds or a headphone set, wear them. Wearing earbuds or headphones will reduce the amount of noise that your computer will pick up, which will make it easier for your students to hear you. Similarly, you may want to advise your students to wear earbuds or headphones during the session. 
  • Advise students to mute their microphones if they are not speaking and unmute the microphones when they want to speak. Students may be joining Zoom calls from different locations, which may create background noise that could be distracting. Encourage students to mute themselves if they’re not speaking to minimize unnecessary or distracting background noise. Using the raise hand feature (under the Participants button in Zoom) or simply seeing the microphone unmuted will give the group a visual cue for when a student wishes to speak. 
  • Check the online chat space for student questions and contributions. Some students may not have working microphones and, therefore, may be unable to contribute verbally. The chat room is a good place for students to contribute, ask questions, and be involved.
  • Check the Zoom Help Center 

Zoom accessibility suggestions

  • Captioning. Students who need live captioning should go through the Office of Accessible Education. Zoom does generate automatic captions and transcripts for sessions as long as they're recorded to the default internet cloud. These captions are very helpful for all students for reviewing the material. If you want an automatic live caption, your best option is to use Google Slide's automated option–see Present Slides with Captions (via Google Drive support).

  • For students with vision impairment or low vision, narrate the material that you’re displaying visually on the screen. Just as you might read materials aloud in class, read screen material that you share on-screen just in case students are not able to see essential text.

Option 2: Pre-record your lectures

If you are not comfortable presenting live, or if you want to flip your classroom and reserve live time for discussion, a good option is to pre-record any lecture material and upload it to Canvas. We recommend that you pre-record lectures using Zoom, to minimize the technology learning curve.

However, if you already have a favored method for recording video (such as using Quicktime on a Mac), you can also record that way and then upload your recorded video using Panopto (called "Course Videos" on Canvas)

Pedagogical recommendations for videos

  • Keep videos short and lively. It is often harder to focus on a video than on a person. Check out some tips for creating lively short online videos from online educator Karen Costa.
  • Test your microphone to make sure that you have good sound quality. Consider using a headset with an external microphone for better audio capture.
  • Consider accessibility. Automatic closed-captioning is not perfect. Speak clearly and not too quickly to make the content as accurate as possible. 
  • Integrate interaction with the lecture material. Consider setting up a Canvas discussion board with some specific questions, using a quiz, or setting up a chat session for a text-based live discussion. 

Option 3: Skip the video and teach entirely in Canvas

Many online courses do not have a video component at all and can be run entirely within the learning management system, Canvas. If you are not sure you have the right equipment and are uncomfortable with the tech setup, this might be a good option.

Getting started with Canvas

Pedagogical Recommendations

  • Create slideshow-based content for lecture-based material and use the speaker notes to offer annotations or a script of what you might otherwise say during an in-person class session. You can upload these slide decks to Canvas, either in the Files section or in a series of Pages.
    • Offer clear instructions to students on how to find these slide decks. In this way, you can flip your lecture-based content and turn it into written content that you assign to students to read and discuss.
  • Set up a discussion for students in Canvas. Use specific, structured questions, and let students know the expectations for their responses. 
  • Share links to outside resources. Encourage students to watch videos, read articles, and so on that are related to your course content. In other words, put together a syllabus that asks students to consult with outside materials and texts related to your course content.
  • Use online chat for a live, text-based chat session with students instead of a live class session. See our recommendations on Chat