Keep Teaching Manual

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The Keep Teaching Manual is a companion guide that accompanies our Adult and Continuing Education Keep Teaching website. It includes links to all the documentation referenced in that site, plus links to related articles and external resources. It is intended for instructors who need to deliver online instruction temporarily and do not have time to complete a full course redesign. This is collection of step-by-step instructions that any Winona State University instructor can use to accomplish the most common instructional activities online quickly and easily. All of the tools referenced in this manual are available to all Winona State University instructors and students.

Your online teaching toolbox

Winona State University supports a lot of tools for facilitating online instruction. Assuming you are pressed for time and you already know how to use common Microsoft Office tools like Word and PowerPoint, focus your attention on the following four tools:

Your networked devices

For many of you, this means your laptop. If you have a Winona State University laptop through the eWarrior Digital Life and Learning Program, you already have a device capable of accomplishing much of what you need to do to prepare and deliver a high-quality online course. Your phone may also be powerful tool for keeping in touch and handling some online teaching tasks. There are also some very helpful phone and tablet apps that can help make your job easier.

The Internet

Reliable access to the Internet is critical when delivering online courses. While connected to the Internet using your laptop or phone, check your Internet speed using a tool like the Spectrum Speed Test. Most high speed home Internet plans provide around 7 to 50 mbps speeds for uploads and downloads. Your upload speed is typically much slower than your download speed. Working with email, Brightspace, and Zoom usually requires very little bandwidth and most activities can be accomplished at speeds that dip below 1 mbps. On a slow Internet connection, you will notice a lag when uploading large files (e.g., a video or big document) and you may experience some degradation of Zoom audio and video. If you have any questions or concerns about your access to the Internet while teaching online, contact the Technical Support Center (TechSupport@winona.edu, 507-457-5240, Somsen Hall 207).

Email and instant messaging

The most important tools in your toolbox are those that help you communicate with your online students. Maintaining teacher presence in your courses should be your top priority. Our supported email system at Winona State University is Microsoft Outlook. Most students access their Outlook mailbox online through their Microsoft Office 365 web portal. Most faculty access their email using the Outlook application installed on their laptops. Many students and employees also access their Winona State University email using the Outlook mobile app. Brightspace offers you the ability to communicate with your students through the Email Tool and announcements posted to your course homepage using the Announcements Tool. Microsoft Teams in another way to communicate with your students. Microsoft Teams supports instant messaging, so feel free to communicate with your students through Teams, as well.

Brightspace

D2L Brightspace is a suite of tools used to support online instruction. This learning management system (LMS) includes tools for organizing learning materials, communicating with students, gathering assignments, administering assessments, and posting grades. You might use some or all of these tools to develop an engaging online learning experience. If you are using Brightspace already in your onsite courses, it may be easy enough to simply expand your usage by adding more content, activities (e.g., discussions, quizzes), and structure. Access Brightspace using the web address, the link on the Winona State University website, or the bookmark in Chrome. Activate your Brightspace courses when you are ready for your online students to access them. (There is more information on Teams below.)

Zoom

Zoom is a web conferencing tool that you can use to host online meetings with students. You can meet as an entire class, individually, or in small groups. Use your laptop's camera and microphone to communicate and share your screen with your students. Students can also share their screens with you. Meetings can be recorded and shared online. Zoom supports polling, voting, breakout groups, and text messaging. Access your Zoom host dashboard to activate your account and schedule meetings.

MediaSpace

Kaltura MediaSpace is an online video storage and streaming service where you can produce, upload, and share your instructional videos with your students. Students can also use MediaSpace to share their videos with you. MediaSpace comes with a simple video production tool called Kaltura Capture that you can install on your laptop and use to capture audio and video input (e.g., screen, webcam). Videos uploaded to your MediaSpace account are captioned automatically. Access your MediaSpace account to activate it, upload videos, access Kaltura Capture, and share videos.

Teams

Microsoft Teams is an application that can be used to support collaboration. You can create your own class Teams site, add your students as members, and configure it to meet your needs. It includes a text messaging feature and is well-suited for supporting group projects and teamwork, something that Brightspace lacks. Access Teams online or using the desktop or mobile app.

How to

Communicate

Share learning materials

Multimedia

Brightspace content

Teams

Collect and review assignments and surveys

Grade

Quizzes

Online versus onsite instruction

Whether you are teaching online for a week or several months, there are some general differences between online and onsite learning experiences to consider before you dive in:

Online learning can be disorienting

Even the digital natives who grew up with smartphones, Facebook, and Xboxes are not comfortable or familiar with online learning. Do your students know what they are supposed to be doing online each day? If they get confused and have questions, do they know how to get help? When teaching online, try to address this disorientation by communicating your expectations and structuring your activities more explicitly and frequently than you would in your onsite courses. This can be done online using frequent emails and announcements and clear descriptions and instructions.

Online learning can be lonely

Going to class is typically a very social experience. Sitting in a room full of people, asking questions, engaging in class discussions, and working on group projects are all meaningful social activities that facilitate learning and help develop productive relationships. When teaching online, try to include as many or more opportunities for social interaction and engagement as you do in your onsite courses. This can be done using discussion boards and web conferences.

Online learning can lack feedback

Students evaluate their academic performance through direct feedback and indirect verbal and nonverbal cues during class meetings. Much of this indirect feedback is lost when instruction moves online and this can cause students to misjudge their own understanding and lose track of how they are doing in the course. When teaching online, find ways to provide meaningful performance feedback and allow students to test their own understanding more frequently than they do in your onsite course. This can be done using low-stakes quizzes and surveys.

Pro tips for maintaining perspective

If you have to teach online suddenly and temporarily due to an unexpected turn of events, and perhaps in the middle of the semester when your onsite class is already well underway, it may help to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Maintain your instructor presence as you move your course online. Communicate with your students frequently through multiple channels. Over-communicate your expectations to keep them oriented and engaged. Check in on them regularly and give them feedback on their progress. Their perception of the quality of the online learning experience is driven largely by their sense of connection with you as their teacher. Humanize the experience as much as possible.
  • You don't have time to redesign your entire course for online delivery. That usually takes a year or more. Your goal is to maintain instructional continuity online for a limited time. Be efficient, be flexible, and do as much as you can to meet your major learning objectives. Be open with your students about your strategies and concerns. They understand that you are being put in a tough position and can help you build an experience that works for them.
  • Technologically speaking, it has never been easier to develop engaging, high-quality online learning experiences. You have a lot of choices, a lot of support, and the tools are all very reliable and easy to use.
  • Don't struggle alone. Use the support that's all around you. Reach out to colleagues, look for ideas online, and contact TLT (tlt@winona.edu, 507-457-5240 Option #3, Maxwell Hall 130) for support. Don't waste hours trying to figure out how to do something that we can show you in five minutes.

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