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Back-up Plans for Course Interruption: What Everyone Needs to Know

For updated information about instructional continuity,

visit Keep Teaching at QC

  • In the event of an emergency such as a widespread quarantine or the decision to shut down CUNY campuses to contain the spread of COVID-19, students will face disruption to their personal and academic lives. As such, faculty must make every effort to continue instruction and do so with a sense of flexibility and understanding. The Center for Teaching and Learning recommends preparing back-up or contingency plans now. They can be included in your syllabus as “Contingency plan I, II, and III” etc, and can be as simple as pushing back an assignment due date or replacing face-to-face class meetings with asynchronous activities such as online discussions or, in some circumstances, video conferencing.

    To stay on top of the latest updates from CUNY and Queens college, please refer to the following pages:
    Updates from CUNY: https://www.cuny.edu/coronavirus/
    Updates from Queens College: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

    Please note: All contingency plans serve as secondary to any CUNY-mandated contingency plan.If you are unable to physically come into campus and need to move some of your instruction out of class, we have a number of recommendations and resources.

    For additional strategies and resources: http://keepteaching.qc.cuny.edu/

    Webinar recordings: https://keepteaching.qc.cuny.edu/workshops/webinar-recordings

  • There are no upcoming workshops or webinars. Please see below for other ways we can help.

    Check the CTL Calendar for virtual office hours/drop-in schedule:
    https://keepteaching.qc.cuny.edu/workshops/virtual-office-hours-calendar

    or contact the CTL HELP DESK/ FRONT DESK:
    Click the following link to join a drop-in discussion with live people who can help you

    https://meet.google.com/rkm-iwwf-iqw

    Dial-in: (US) +1 209-791-8467 PIN: 167 774 589#

    or make an appointment to speak one-on-one with an Instructional Technologist
    Book an appointment with Jean Kelly to discuss Blackboard course set up, Collaborate Ultra, Screen recording/Podcasting, Teaching Online.

    Book an appointment with Rob Garfield to discuss ways to run your class this semester: Low Tech/Low Bandwidth, Blackboard, Google, email, etc.

    Book an appointment with Rachel Stern to discuss Strategies for Teaching Online, Teaching Online, GSuite (Ie: Google Classroom, Google Meet), Blackboard Collaborate, etc.


    CUNY Blackboard User Guides
    For questions, please contact:
    Blackboard Campus Support: bbsupport@qc.cuny.edu
    CTL Instructional Technologists: Jean Kelly (Jean.Kelly@qc.cuny.edu), Rob Garfield (jgarfield@qc.cuny.edu), Rachel Lockerman (Rachel.Stern@qc.cuny.edu)
    Queens College Help Desk: (helpdesk@qc.cuny.edu)
    Queens College Faculty Hotline: 718-997-4900
    Teaching Online: Rowena Li (rowena.li@qc.cuny.edu)

    Blackboard Resources

  • If you are comfortable using Blackboard or Google Classroom,  but need some strategies for making the most of the tools available, there are a number of activities you and your students can engage in outside of class to help fill in the gaps left by the missed face-to-face periods. These activities break down into two distinct categories: asynchronous (working together — or individually — on your own time) and synchronous (you and the students working together at the same time). Below are some tool categories and examples to help you start developing asynchronous catch-up activities:

    • Discussions

      These are a great way to get students discussing a topic in writing.  They work best for open-ended discussions rather than for content delivery. They can be set up to limit access to other students’ replies until after they have posted their own response. Professors can encourage discourse by having students post a response to a prompt, and then requiring them to respond to their classmates’ posts with meaningful responses. Such responses should go beyond mere statements that agree with the comment they are replying to and encourage further discussion. A sample rubric for assessing these replies can be found here.

      • Blackboard: The Blackboard discussion board is a versatile tool, and a great choice if you already use Blackboard, since you can integrate a rubric and link directly to your course’s grade book.
        • Instructor guides for creating and managing discussion boards in Blackboard: Discussions
      • Google Classroom: The Google Classroom “Short Answer Question” option can serve as a discussion board for instructors using Google Classroom. It links directly to the Classroom gradebook and allows you to grade it using a rubric. One difference between this option and the Blackboard option is that the Google Classroom Question Discussion Board only allows one level of nested replies. For discussions that require more complex back and forth, it can be difficult to manage. Posting an “Announcement” in the Google Classroom stream also allows students to engage with you, however it does not prevent students from seeing others replies before submitting their own, nor will it be linked to the gradebook.
        • Instructor Guides on Google Classroom Question Feature: Questions
        • Additional guides for instructors: Google Classroom Starter (Instructor Guide)
        • Student Guide: How to join a Google Classroom
        • You can also unleash your students on the collaborative spaces available through Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets, which permit some of the most sophisticated real-time collaboration tools we have seen. They can be used as stand-alone tools, within Google Classroom, or via a link in your Blackboard course.
      • FlipGrid is a video discussion platform. Your students can post video responses to your discussion prompt. Learn the basics at: Getting Started — Flipgrid
      • WordPress/Qwriting: If you use a WordPress blog for your course, on Qwriting or elsewhere, asynchronous discussion is built into the interplay between posting and commenting.  Using a blog is a great way to get students to interact around a topic related to your course.
    • Collaboration

      • Collaborative spaces are available through Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets, which permit some of the most sophisticated real-time collaboration tools we have seen. They can be used as stand-alone tools, within Google Classroom, or via a link in your Blackboard course.
      • Dropbox: All active CUNY faculty and staff have access to unlimited Dropbox storage (student accounts are limited to 15 GB) where they can organize and archive files.
        • Dropbox Paper, available as part of the package, allows collaboration within the same document in real-time by multiple users, as well as embedding of videos, PDFs, images, and PowerPoint presentations for an all-in-one experience.
      • Microsoft Office 365: All active CUNY faculty and staff have access to the CUNY Microsoft Office 365 for Education via the Microsoft Office in Education program. 
    • Assignments

      • Create assignments in Blackboard and grade them online. Be sure to use the Assessments interface when you set up the assignments. It creates a virtual dropbox for students to submit their files. Blackboard will automatically attach their names to the files, so it’s easy for you to keep track of them. 
      • In Google Classroom you can post an assignment in one or more classes. These assignments are tied to the Google Classroom gradebook and automatically added to Google Drive.
    • Online tests or quizzes

    • Record your presentations/lectures

      Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a video conferencing tool that you can also use to record lectures. See below for its use as a virtual classroom.

      Create a video from your PowerPoint file (Windows only) and upload it to your QC G Suite Drive. Mac versions do not have this option. If you’re a Mac user you may want to try QuickTime Player or Screencast-o-matic below.

      QuickTime Player (Mac only) can create video/screen/audio recordings and has basic editing features.

      Screencast-o-matic is a subscription-based online screen recording platform. With a free subscription you can create a 15-minute video and do some basic editing. This is a great way to record your PowerPoint if you’re a Mac user.

      Screencastify: Create a brief (five minute) offline recording of your screen.

      TechSmith Snagit, a screen recording tool and TechSmith Video Review, an asynchronous collaboration platform, will be provided by TechSmith for free through the end of June 2020 to any organization that needs it. To request the software and for more information: Request Free TechSmith Software (scroll to the bottom of the page for the form).

      OBS Studio Free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. For advanced users, as there’s a significant learning curve,

    • Audio recordings

      Record your (audio only) lecture and share mp3 files via email, Blackboard or Dropbox:

  • If you are comfortable using Blackboard or Google Classroom,  but need some strategies for making the most of the tools available, there are a number of activities you and your students can engage in outside of class to help fill in the gaps left by the missed face-to-face periods. These activities break down into two distinct categories: asynchronous (working together — or individually — on your own time) and synchronous (you and the students working together at the same time). Below are some tool categories and examples to help you start developing synchronous catch-up activities:

    As with any new tool, it is best to have practice sessions earlier in the semester: you can have students bring their devices to class and test the system during class time. If that is not possible, please make sure to share the below resources with them so they can ensure they will have access when needed. 

    Online real-time class sessions can be run with any of the following:

    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Situated within Blackboard, best for larger classes, no limit on participants, created within the Blackboard course. 

    Google Meet for video meetings with up to 100 participants. Start a new meeting by clicking this link or by creating a calendar event in your Google Calendar. For more information, visit the Get Started with Meet page.

    In the next few weeks, the following Hangouts Meet premium features will be rolled out and will be available to QC users until July 1, 2020. CTL will follow up an announcement when the features have been enabled. Please keep in mind that these features will only be available until July 1, 2020. Do not base any long term plans on their availability.

    There are also commercial products that you can use, including Skype and FaceTime.

  • What about a low tech plan?

    You may be feeling overwhelmed by the process of having to suddenly move your course online, but there are ways to continue teaching that don’t require sophisticated tech tools. We don’t recommend this as a long term solution, but recognize that sometimes we must respond to needs in the moment.

    Email:

    • Email links to videos from Youtube, YouTube’s CrashCourse, TED Talks, or Kahn Academy. You can also attach articles or links to blog posts.
    • Whole class discussions can be held by instructing students to “reply to all” with a response to a discussion prompt.
    • Email students an assignment and require that they submit it to you via email.
    • You can email students from Blackboard, CUNYfirst, or QC Navigate.

    Mobile phone conference calls:

    • Use your iPhone or Android to set up conference calls (up to five people) and hold small group discussions.
    • iPhone: Enable or Disable Caller ID: turn off your caller ID if you don’t want your number to appear on your students’ caller ID display.
  • Don’t feel you need to have the most sophisticated plan in place: try something you are familiar with. But if you want to try something new and want some advice, contact us. CTL’s Instructional Technologists have the following expertise:

    Blackboard Campus Support: bbsupport@qc.cuny.edu
    Blogs, Wikis, Google Tools for Education (GSuite): Rob Garfield (rob.garfield@qc.cuny.edu)
    Lecture capture, podcasting, Google Tools for Education (GSuite): Jean Kelly (jean.kelly@qc.cuny.edu)
    Google Tools for Education (GSuite), Online course development: Rachel Stern (rachel.stern@qc.cuny.edu)
    Teaching Online: Rowena Li (rowena.li@qc.cuny.edu)

    CUNY Blackboard User Guides
    Blackboard Resources

    An Equitable Transition to Online Learning – Flexibility, Low Bandwidth, Cell Phones, and more – Pedagogy Playground has tips and factors to consider while converting your face-to-face class to an online environment.

    Student Resources

    IT Help

    (ie: Blackboard questions, technical support etc..): email Helpdesk@qc.cuny.edu, or call the Student Support Hotline (718-997-3000).

    If your student lacks internet at home:
    Various Internet Service Providers and Mobile companies are providing free internet and accommodations to student households:

    Spectrum Free Internet: 1-844-488-8395

    Tutorials

    Blackboard:

    Blackboard troubleshooting and tutorials

    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (Virtual Classroom)

    Google Classroom:

    Google Classroom Tutorials

    Troubleshooting for students

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