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.
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.)
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.
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)
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.
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.
Use an existing or new PowerPoint.
Allow 10 slides maximum.
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.
Use as little text as possible on slides. 30 point font or larger. One word is great. No words--even better.
Include links to videos you’ve curated.
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.
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.
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.
Embeds beautifully in Canvas, directly or using LTI.
Works as a gamified, self-test tool via mobile.
Free and inexpensive versions with pictures and audio.
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.