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Office of Faculty Development

Remote Teaching in Response to COVID-19

This page was prepared on 16 March 2020 and will be updated regularly.  It replaces an earlier version of this document from 11 March.

The College has now made the decision to move all courses online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, in order to protect the health of our community.  This move to remote instruction will be a challenging task for all of us.  We need to work together and be as patient with each other, and with our students, as possible.

What steps should I take now?

Departments should meet (remotely via Zoom, if possible) to discuss how to launch your online teaching.  Be sure to include your part-time faculty colleagues.

  • First, review the Student Learning Outcomes for your department and your courses, and determine how you can best meet those outcomes with the transition. 
  • Next, what tasks will you need to accomplish in the first week of online teaching? 
    • Posting syllabi and assignments?
    • Posting PowerPoint slideshows accompanied by lectures? 
    • Hosting discussions? 
    • Collecting student work? 
    • Returning student work with feedback?
    • Other?
  • Then ask: do you—as a departmental collective—have the knowledge to accomplish what you need to do?  Can you help each other?  To the extent you can, that is wonderful—please do so.  
  • To assist you, please look at the pedagogical resources that are already being shared on this page and on the faculty-generated Moodle page entitled Faculty Best Practices and Resource Sharing for Online Teaching.  You may be able to learn what you need there, from the collective wisdom and efforts of our faculty (and those at other institutions).
  • For technological resources to support your use of Moodle and other online tools, head to the Teaching Remotely at Lake Forest College page or email the Help Desk at ithelp@mx.lakeforest.edu

Once you have determined what you can do, think about what you need support to do.  Reach out to Sean Riedel and Anna Jones (and Scott Schappe, if labs and other experiential issues are involved) and let us know what help you need.  This could include:

  • Training for the elements of our basic toolkit for online teaching: Moodle, Panopto, Zoom.
  • Specialty software needs that your department has for the students to complete the semester remotely.  We can’t promise that all software will be available, but we can investigate and do our best to meet software needs if we know about them.
  •  Other concerns that you have.

What principles should I follow as I move my courses online and help students complete their spring semester?

  • Be aware that a number of our students may have limited access to technology or WiFi when they are no longer on campus.  You will need to be flexible and to keep equity in mind as you teach.  You cannot require students to be online all at the same time—some may be able to do so, which is fine, but any “discussions” or “lectures” should also be recorded and available for students to find later.  Please work from the general principle of asynchronous teaching: that is, allowing students to engage with and complete work on their own schedule (while maintaining deadlines).
  • If you wish to meet with students “face-to-face,” Zoom is an option and the College has acquired enough licenses for all faculty members.  Information about how to use it and integrate Zoom into your Moodle course is available at the Teaching Remotely at Lake Forest College page.  (Remember to consider students who may have limited access to a family computer, or restrictive work schedules, or who may only be able to “meet” on their phone—Zoom does have a free app they can download to their phone.)
  • Replace in-class student participation with options such as written discussion assignments and Moodle discussion board work.
  • Decide how you will accept assignments electronically (on Moodle or via email).
  • Replace lectures with notes or slides on Moodle or lectures recorded on Panopto.  Furthermore, please set “office hours” to allow students to ask questions on lecture materials.
  • Replace in-person office hours with consultations using the phone, Zoom, or email.
  • Quizzes and exams: you can use Moodle for timed quizzes and exams. However, you should also consider whether traditional exams are good measures of student learning in this environment.  In the interests of equity, consider the following:
    •  Alternate assessments, other than quizzes and exams.
    • Making your quizzes and exams “open book” so they can be done remotely and taken on students’ schedules.
    • You may have to be creative for students who have no technology beyond phones.  In an extreme case, could you email students questions for them to respond to in writing, photograph, and send back?  Think through the possible options, and be flexible. 
  • Be available to your students.  Even in these unusual circumstances, our students expect access to their professors.  Furthermore, this is all doubtless very unsettling for many of our students, and you will be a reassuring presence.

We understand that the flexibility and availability necessary to provide equity in this extraordinary situation means more work for you.  We acknowledge this and thank you for it. 

What about ADA, accommodations, and accessibility of materials?  

Use materials in more easily readable formats (.pdf), instead of documents that may shift depending upon the computer or phone. This Educause page (“ADA Compliance for Online Course Design”) presents a way to consider these issues.

Students with accommodations on campus receive accommodations in online learning.  Please be familiar with your students’ established accommodation plans and adhere to them.  Contact Kara Fifield (fifield@mx.lakeforest.edu) if you have questions. 

For other Student Success questions, contact Dawn Abt-Perkins (abtperki@mx.lakeforest.edu).

I have a course that has elements that are hard to reproduce online. What can I do?

Frankly, the answer will vary on a case-by-case basis. The online resources offered above and on the faculty Moodle page provide some ideas to think about, but we ask that you consider the needs of your particular course and your students to determine the best way forward.

We are open to suggestions and strategies from individuals/ departments, and the OFD is here to strategize with you on particular questions.  ITS is available to help you strategize using technological resources.  Here are some ideas:

  • Conversation-based language courses: Consider holding one-on-one discussion time via Zoom or other technologies; consider using other resources, including existing video content, for students to work with a modern language.
  • Equipment or materials issues: If your students need materials (films, books, etc.) only available in the Library, contact Cory Stevens for options (cstevens@mx.lakeforest.edu).  Those resources may be found online, or librarians can help you scan. E-books can also sometimes help fill gaps.
  • Software: Does your course require special software or computers only found in our computer labs? ITS is working to create options for allowing concurrently licensed software, (e.g., SPSS and Mathematica) to be installed on student computers. In certain cases, as with Adobe CC, the company has agreed to offer free downloads in this extraordinary circumstance—but it takes time to get our request validated. Send any questions about possible access to software to the Help Desk as soon as possible.
  • Labs:  Departments should consider the state of their semester labs. Could labs be amended or jettisoned if the situation warrants such action? Are “dry labs” or other online resources to replace labs an option? The Stanford document, under Best Practices>Run Lab Activities has some ideas.  There are also further ideas posted on the faculty Moodle page.
  • On-site components: Find online resources that can substitute, including filmed performances (in lieu of theatre trips), the use of websites (in lieu of museum trips), recorded lectures, etc.  In some cases, you will not be able to reproduce the content.
  • Performances and in-person art critiques: 
    • For Art/Design pieces, plan for digital submission of works for canceled student exhibits.
    • For Theatre or Music performances: individual filmed performances may be necessary, or grading students on rehearsals that have already taken place.
    • For Theatre technical/design students, consider allowing the substitution of drawings/plans and partially completed builds (costume or scenic).
    • For Music recitals, consider digital submission for recitals.

Please be particularly flexible for students needing a performance/evaluation to graduate.

What do I do about advising? Registration for 2020-2021 is coming up! 

You will need to advise this year using email, phone calls, Zoom, or other such options.  Reach out to your advisees to reassure them that they will be able to register and to establish how you will be in touch with each of them for advising “appointments.”

Using forms to help your students visualize their program for next year (and beyond) can be helpful.

  • If your department has a Word document or pdf form to track progress through the major, considering filling those out for each student (in Word, or in pen and scan for pdf) and sharing it.
  • For the Forester Fundamental Curriculum, there is a form on my.lakeforest>Faculty>My Advising Documents and Forms to help with this (there is also an “Advising-at-a-Glance” document that is useful).

Furthermore, this is a great time to encourage students to become familiar with checking their own transcripts and GEC Audit on my.lakeforest!