Quick Tips on Transitioning Modes of Instruction from Face-to-Face to Online

Introduction

Lectures and Presentations

Discussion & Participation (including active reading)

Group Work

Test, Quiz, Survey

Student Presentations

Office Hours

Additional Resources


Introduction

Under these unprecedented circumstances, the amount of information circulating on distance learning can be overwhelming. In response, The Teaching and Learning Center has compiled this guide as part of a broader effort to help instructors reimagine their teaching practices from the classroom in an online environment and to keep in mind the needs of our student body at CUNY.  

Having to shift rapidly from F2F to online will require instructors to make adjustments and simplify. This document offers possible tools depending on your pedagogical approach, along some tips to help with the transition. Check out the CUNY guide from @RanknFileAction, How to Transition to Online Teaching During these difficult times. Below we summarize and add to some of the main points from this guide:

  • Give up on business as usual. These are unprecedented circumstances for you and for your students. As you do regularly in your teaching, be as transparent as possible. Talk and/or write to students about WHAT you're prioritizing under the new circumstances and WHY. Bulleted emails with things to do & resources are practical.
  • Grade generously. Everybody is trying to navigate this new situation, including your students. Be kind when grading and assessing your students' assignments. There are many other factors and issues that are affecting their lives and work at this moment.
  • Prioritize asynchronous teaching & include flexibles times when students can connect with you and/or their classmates. Remember that students are taking different classes that may require different tools (with different logins too!). Don’t introduce too many new platforms/tools at once. Solutions need not be high-tech as long as they can still achieve your pedagogical goals.
  • Accessibility. By prioritizing asynchronous teaching and adding flexible times, you are making your course accessible since technology access is an issue for some students. Make assignments lower or no stakes. Build in time for students to adjust, and move toward higher stakes assignments as students gain facility and comfort.

Lectures and Presentations

Even if you are not meeting with your students face-to-face, you can still deliver your lectures by recording them (video or just audio). Lectures can be given synchronously during course time, or better yet, lectures can be recorded and uploaded online where your students will be able to access them anytime (asynchronous).

Blackboard

CUNY Commons

  • Use Add Media function to upload audio or mp4 video file
  • If your videos are uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo, paste a link into any page or post

Other

  • Zoom, Jing, and Screencast-o-matic can be used for recording audio/video lectures.
  • Share your Google slides with your class
  • Collaborative Lectures on GoogleDocs: if you are using written lecture notes, share them in a Google doc. with your class so they can comment and ask questions on the doc.
  • Voiceover narration in slidedeck creation software: Keynote (Mac), PowerPoint (Mac or PC), or Quicktime (Mac)
  • How to record from your cell phone (Android & iPhone) and upload to YouTube or Vimeo - step by step guide
  • Panopto (Lecture recording, Livestreaming Software, Quizzing Software)
  • Poll Everywhere (Design poll questions for your class in response to your lecture to check for understanding)

Tips:

  • Keep videos short and lively (5-10 minutes each, even if you make multiple videos). 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 to capture better audio.
  • Consider ADA compliance. Automatic closed-captioning is not perfect. Speak clearly and not too quickly to make the content as accurate as possible. Consider uploading your videos to YouTube to take advantage of their automatic (though not perfect) closed-captioning.
  • Create a channel for your recording on Youtube or Vimeo. Share the channel with students so they can access all your recordings and re-watch as needed.
  • Integrate interaction with the lecture material. You might consider setting up a discussion board with some specific questions, using a quiz, or setting up a chat session for a text-based live discussion.

Discussion & Participation (including active reading)

Students’ active participation online is possible if they have a defined platform to be engaged with their classmates and ways to contribute to the discussion. This can be through video, audio, posts, messages, etc. Most of the options can be done asynchronously, so students can turn in work over a flexible period of time.

Blackboard

  • Option to embed a Youtube video you create or other media for discussion

CUNY Commons

Other

  • Host non-copyrighted course materials for group reading and group annotation (login required)
  • The instructor can comment on a reading through a voice recording and then link it for students to listen to. Students can also record responses to a prompt and/or text.
  • Slack

Message with students on Slack

  • FlipGrid (Interactive Discussion Boards with Short Videos)
  • VoiceThread (Video interactivity for Discussion Boards, etc.)

Tips: 

  • Since these discussions are online, students may require more direct and specific instructions of expectations.
  • Provide discussion questions and/or ask students to generate discussion questions to help get discussions started.
  • Set up a discussion forum and allow students 2-3 days to respond to the prompt or to add their reading response
  • Especially for asynchronous written comments, provide examples, models and/or instructions on how to respond to their classmates’ comments. Without guidance, students may simply agree or like another person’s comment without deeply engaging it. You may want to specify a minimum number of comments you want each student to make or divide students into groups where they are responsible for commenting on each other’s work.
  • Make sure that students are aware of how you are going to assess their participation online.

Group Work                          

Students may already have been working in small groups for a course project that you can now move online, or you can move them into short- or long-term working groups now that your course is online. This could take the form of reading/study groups, peer review groups, etc. Checking in with groups instead of the whole class is a great way to keep track of students’ work and allow students to help support each other.

Tip: Especially if they do not have the opportunity to work synchronously, each student should have a role and a task within the group that can be done asynchronously.

Blackboard

CUNY Commons

Other

  • Login with your CUNY email at portal.office.com and click on Microsoft Teams (Purple). Click the assignments tab on the left middle toolbar and it will prompt you to create a class. Click “Teachers: Start Here”


Test, Quiz, Survey

As an instructor you can create and administer tests, quizzes and surveys online using different platforms and tools depending on the nature of these assignments. Consider “take-home” (non-timed) tests and quizzes, which can have more open-ended questions and require research.

        Blackboard

        Other

  • Panopto (Lecture recording, Livestreaming Software, Quizzing Software)
  • Poll Everywhere (Design poll questions for your class with instant results/visuals)

Student Presentations

Student presentations could be individual and/or in small groups. Just as instructors are recording and sharing lectures online, students can also record their presentations and share them with the class. This opportunity could allow students to be creative by sharing their material in one of several possible ways, from presenting a video with their PowerPoint slides along with a voicethread/recording to being an active protagonist in the video itself.

Blackboard

  • Option to embed a Youtube video they create or other media they want to share

        

CUNY Commons

Other

  • Ask students to record themselves at their screen, using a web camera, the built-in microphone on their computer, and screen sharing software combined to capture both their faces/persons, as well as the slides on the screen. See the Lectures and Presentations section above for platforms to support this.

Tips:

  • Create a (new/revised) presentation rubric: make sure that students are aware of how they are going to be assessed and if/how their individual work is evaluated within a group. Letting students have a say in the assessment criteria or peer-review of presentations can help lower anxiety issues.
  • Assign roles within the group so students will have specific tasks to focus on and complete.
  • Lower anxiety by not making the technical elements (perfect audio or video) a significant part of the presentation grade.

Office Hours

You can still have one-on-one check-ins and meetings with your students as needed. There are many approaches to keep in touch with your students from a phone conversation, a video call, to messaging.

Tip: The most important thing is to stay in regular contact with your students.


Additional Resources

This document was created by the Staff of the Graduate Center’s Teaching and Learning Center and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License