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Snow Day? Stay Connected.

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Spring is finally around the corner along with its promise of blue skies and jacket-free days, but the threats of icy conditions still loom well into March (remember when white was the new green on St. Patrick’s Day 2014?). Below are a few tips that will help you keep your students engaged when the weather is too critical to hold classes at the university.

Communicate

Send emails and use the Announcements feature in Blackboard to keep your students updated on class activities.

Record your class

Panopto allows you to pre-record a lecture that you can upload to Blackboard for easy access by your students.

Meet virtually

Use Blackboard Collaborate to meet in real-time with your students (available in Blackboard under Tools). Collaborate will let you upload a PowerPoint or OpenOffice presentation and even record your webinars.

Start a Discussion

Post questions in Blackboard’s Discussion Board over a variety of topics that students can respond to. Make sure your students know how to comment on a discussion board, and remind them of “netiquette” principles.

The American University Be Prepared site offers more preparatory advice on keeping classes going while campus is closed.

What strategies do you use to keep class going when campus is closed? Comment with your ideas!

How to Keep your Students Engaged during the Snowquester?

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The American University Be Prepared site (http://www.american.edu/ctrl/preparation.cfm) gives us a few tips to keep your classes going and your students focused on the class material while campus is closed.

We invite you to view the above site and to comment to this post if you need any special support from us.  Here we summarize a few of the most handy tips:

1.  Use Blackboard to e-mail students and post announcements on readings, discussion boards or any tool you want to use to keep the class going.

2.  Meet with your students using Blackboard Collaborate tool.  You can have several students in session and do a compact class meeting.  Alternatively you can hold your office hours using Collaborate and just meet with one student at a time.  You will need a camera and a microphone if you want to have a video session with your students.  But you could simply chat with them, share your screen or use the “white board” in Collaborate to write equations or draw graphs.

Links to learning material on Collaborate can be found at the library site: http://www.american.edu/library/technology/blackboard/collaborate.cfm

3.  Film your class session using Panopto and post it in Blackboard.  We recommend making a couple of short videos (up to 15 minutes) with the key topics you want emphasized.  Remember that Spring break is next week, so the Panopto tool can help you not stay disconnected from your students for 2 weeks.  You can use Panopto to film your power point slides, your screen view and/or yourself so it can be as interactive as you want it.

Links to instructional handouts including how to get started with your first recording are available online at: http://www.american.edu/ctrl/techinclass.cfm, or through the Library’s Panopto support site: http://www.american.edu/library/technology/lecture_capture.cfm.

4.  Post your class Power Point slides in Blackboard with narration.  This is an alternative to Panopto recording for those that find it easier (we recommend Panopto though).  You can create your slides and add narration to them (remember to check your microphone settings so that the voice comes as optimal as possible).   As with Panopto recording we recommend making a couple of videos of up to 15 minutes long to optimize attention levels.

Microsoft offers step by step guides on how to add narrations to your slides: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint-help/record-a-voice-narration-HP005195027.aspx

Please feel free to e-mail us with questions at rsg@american.edu or to post your comments here.  We would like to know if any of these tips are useful to keep your classes going while the university remains closed.