It’s Okay to Keep it Simple

As we all rapidly transition to remote instruction this week due to COVID-19, it is actually better to keep it simple.  When a friend sent me a blog post called Please do a bad job of putting your course online, I was initially offended.  As I read the post, I realized it offered some really good advice.  We aren’t trying to make awesome online courses (that takes too much effort at this stage), and faculty and students are dealing with lots of complications in their lives.  We are trying to protect ourselves and others with social distancing while ensuring students don’t lose the credits they are working for. With that in mind, here are some quick tips for rapid remote teaching:

  1. Choose to cut things that aren’t absolutely essential for students to meet learning outcome or objectives.
  2. Everyone already has a Blackboard shell for their course. Your students are already enrolled.  Use that as the home base for everything that you can.
  3. Keep the technology simple. Posting of simple text documents in Blackboard, like your notes, will be best for everyone.  
  4. If you have to use video, keep it very short.  Use small clips of 5 minutes or less if you can, and don’t worry about umms or editing for professionalism.
  5. Recycle what you already have.  Captured a lecture last year with Panopto – re-use it. 
  6. Avoid your class needing to meet at the same time (synchronous).  It will cause potential problems for students with low bandwidth and people dealing with sickness. 
  7. If you need to give a final, make the test open book if you can.  Technical solutions to proctor at distance are often ineffective or invade personal privacy.

Remember, everyone is working and learning in less than ideal conditions.  Simplify everywhere that you can. 

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