Skip navigation
All Places > Higher Education > Blog > 2020 > March
2020

In response to disease epidemics (Covid-19 Coronavirus) many schools are transitioning to online courses, ready or not.  

 

Ideally, online courses are thoughtfully produced using multimedia, Universal Design (UDL), backward design, and flipped-classroom approaches, with quality assurance tools like QM Quality Matters Rubric ensuring a student-centered result before launch. 

*
The Show Must Go On
Quick! What do you do when you have one week—or one day—to transition your course to online.
 
  1. Orientation module template.  Template all of your courses with a consistent Preparation Module to fix issues before they start, including helping students set up their computers properly for Canvas and Webinars. View an example list of contents here: Start Here: Course Materials and Introduction (Includes: How to set up your computer for Canvas; How to get tech help; Introduce yourself Discussion; and practice Assignment with 4 parts--email your instructor, set your Canvas notifications, add a profile pic, and practice submitting online in Canvas.)
  2. Canvas Discussions.  Use them each week (or day) and make them meaningful. Even in face-to-face classroom courses, discussions add instant value. Well written question prompts = meaningful student-to-student learning.  
  3. Powerpoint *done right.  Make the old “groan” lesson-plan sedatives come to life with simplified tools and approaches. (Focus on narration, images, low text density, video format)
  4. Live Webinars.  Time-constrained synchronous online courses are the least common format for good reasons, but tools like Big Blue Button/Conferences, Webex, Adobe Connect, and Google Hangouts provide instant contact for instructor-led learning remotely.
  5. Organize, organize, organize.  Review any area where your course expectations are not clear. Unpack any information that lives in your head until you can see it in the course. 
*
Online Lesson Idea
Experiment with these tips to make your online lesson fast.
  1. Use an existing or new PowerPoint. 
  2. Allow 10 slides maximum. 
  3. Use slide title lines for your lesson outline. Plan the trajectory visually. Begin and end in 10 slides!
    If this is difficult, save the last  3 slides for 1.)  What do I want students to take away from this lesson and remember a week from now?, 2.) Summary, and 3.) Reference list and/or suggested readings and videos for further exploration. 
  4. Use as little text as possible on slides. 30 point font or larger. One word is great. No words--even better. 
  5. Include links to videos you’ve curated.
  6. Provide context above and below the video.
    (Video embeds make for large files; capture a screenshot image of the Video’s opening slide and turn that into a hyperlinked button instead.)
    Tell students what they should watch for and provide a list of questions in advance that they will be asked after the video. 
  7. Include lots of pictures! Creative Commons search through Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, and Canvas media. 
  8. Speak! 
  9. Powerpoint allows you to record your Voiceover slide-by-slide. You can practice, rehearse timings, and re-do your bloopers.
  10. Video! Export your PowerPoint with audio and slide forwarding/timings as an MP4 or .wav video, host,  and embed in Canvas. Voila'! 

 

  • Tips: To avoid sounding wooden or recording long pauses filled with “Ummm,” (since you aren’t a voice artist) make a short outline of bullet points you want to be sure to mention. Speak as if you are standing in front of your class. Speak quickly and enunciate clearly. Spend as much time as you need and forward each slide manually to record again. 

    Caution: Students can listen at about 200-500 words per minute, and you can speak at about 125 wmp, so you are inherently boring. Be yourself, but keep up the pace!
*
More Favorite Tools
Keep your teacher voice present and personal by providing personalized instructions and multimedia options.
Mobile Phones
  • Enable students to submit video/media assignments. Mix it up from text typing. 
    • Example: Allow students to video themselves solving their math homework. Submit images or scans of work and a video of their process.
  • Link Canvas guides for new users in your instructions. Ensure students know about their Canvas user account Files storage, conversion tools for videos, and any other troubleshooting links. 
Quizlet Flashcards
  • Embeds beautifully in Canvas, directly or using LTI.
  • Works as a gamified, self-test tool via mobile.
  • Printable.
  • Free and inexpensive versions with pictures and audio.
VokiAvatar
  • If you are tired of your own talking head giving directions, try Vokiavatars. Cartoon people, animals, and fantasy characters can deliver directions to your students. 
  • See VokiAvatars on this Example Online Lesson support page created for K-12 teachers-in-training in the course EDPS 5442/6442 Teaching Sciences Online. 
GoAnimate
YouTube Videos
  • Great and terrible content exists on every topic imaginable.
  • Select videos shorter than 15 minutes, preferably 1-3 minutes long. Chunk topics and surround it with context. 
  • Embed on a Canvas page with context. Tell students what to watch for. Create meaningful questions for students to answer on each video to make sure they got the point. 
________________________________________________________________________________________________
*Guy Kawasaki’s brilliantly appropriate 10-20-30 Rule for Powerpoint applies to learning as well as idea pitches. 

When I first began teaching online, I considered using a social media hashtag for class activities and related content. To make it simple and a cohesive conversation, I thought to use the course prefix and number, ie #THE4400. When discussing with a colleague, it was suggested this could potentially violate FERPA. Unsure about this, I researched further.

 

Often students use social media- different platforms for diverse purposes and at different stages in their life. They share information about themselves publicly. Instructors are seeking to engage with students where they already digitally reside, plus social media a “free” tool to use. Therefore, many are interested in using social media for educational purposes. However, privacy concerns are often raised.

 

Is social media specifically covered by FERPA? No. Although, if using social media for your classroom activities, should you think about FERPA implications? Of course. Let’s discuss what some of those considerations might be.

FERPA, Protecting Student Records

Universities are required to keep records on students. Directory information is some data that can be released publicly. This includes student names, email addresses, participation in officially recognized activities, and photographs. Most all other student data is educational records, protected by FERPA.

What is FERPA? The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was instituted in 1974 to provide four rights to students, pertaining to the privacy of their educational records. Students:

  • can see information being kept about themselves
  • can seek amendment to those records, and in some cases, may append a statement to a record
  • can consent to disclose records to others, and 
  • can file complaints with the FERPA office if they feel their rights have been violated.

One of the key points regarding educational records is that it is data that is maintained by the university. Think of examples like social security numbers, grades, class schedules, and medical information. My colleague’s FERPA concern was related to student’s engagement with a course hashtag, thus revealing they were enrolled in my course at that particular time (similar to a class schedule, but less relevant for a fully online class). Canvas messages and university account emails can be considered educational records. However, a WordPress blog or a text message might not because it is not maintained by the university. A safe bet is to always check with your institution regarding FERPA guidelines before using social media for your classes.

5 Tips for Using Social Media in Higher Education

  1. Inform students social media will be used in class and how it will be used. Include a FERPA statement on the course syllabus.

  2. Do not require students to release personal information publicly. Directly let them know that their material may be viewed  by others. Students under the age of 18 should get their parent’s consent to post work publicly. 

  3. For those who need or prefer to do so, allow students to use an alias. Provide this opportunity in advance to your students. When possible, offer an alternative assignment.

  4. Include a module or lesson on digital citizenship, digital footprints and internet privacy.

  5. As the instructor, do not discuss student’s grades using social media; instead use a password protected and FERPA compliant tool, like the Canvas gradebook or Canvas Inbox messages.

 
Read more about FERPA and using social media for education.

 

Disclaimer: FERPA is public law. All information in this article/post is for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for individualized advice from a qualified legal practitioner.

 

What best practices do you use or recommend when leveraging social networking platforms in your courses?

 

This post is part of the "Teaching with FERPA" blogging challenge; have you entered yet?

 

Keep learning,
Sky V. King

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: