As more schools begin to make the transition to distance learning and online classrooms, we want to help. Microsoft has created resources, training, and how-to guides that we hope will help educators and their classrooms make this transition.
To help support you during this time, we’ve created a support page for O365 with the information Microsoft has provided.
Microsoft Education is committed to helping all teachers, students, and staff stay engaged and focused on learning. Creating an online classroom is an important step in moving to a remote learning experience. Free for schools, Microsoft Teams, provides a secure online classroom that brings together classroom management features, collaborative workspaces like OneNote Class Notebook, and virtual face-to-face connections in a single digital hub that keeps students engaged.
Information included are Microsoft’s top resources on distance learning, Web Pages with tools to connect remotely, Microsoft Teams quick start guide for EDU (PDF). Webinars designed for educators, Blog posts, and Free Training,
These resources have been provided by the Microsoft Corporation and are included in this post for the convenience of WCU faculty who want to use Office 365 to facilitate online learning.
Open Help Sessions for All Instructors
The CFC is hosting additional open sessions for all instructors to learn how to effectively facilitate online learning and engage students using Blackboard and its general suite of tools. We will be offering these sessions through the following video-conferencing link:
Dates and times are as follows:
Monday, March 23 – March 25
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Surveying Your Students: WCU Supported Software
Option #1: Blackboard
Don’t forget that Blackboard’s Test tool also allows for surveys that don’t add to grades and that links to those surveys can be added to announcements and emails from Blackboard. More information on Surveys in Blackboard. This is a best option if you are only surveying one course.
Option 1b: Blackboard Collaborate Polling
If you are running an online synchronous course in Collaborate, you can drop a live poll into your Collaborate session. Collaborate is the Zoom-like synchronous meeting platform built into every Blackboard course. You can find out about how to use the polling functions in Collaborate here. Collaborate can also take attendance.
Option #2: Microsoft Forms
For easily copied and shared polls, check out Microsoft Forms. If you haven’t clicked the “Waffle of Power” (apps launcher) in your email portal for Office365 (email.wcu.edu), then you may not have found all of the magical wonder hidden in O365. One of those is Microsoft Forms. Forms is basically the Microsoft version of Google Sheets, and it is very easy to use and distribute.
Option #3: Qualtrics
All WCU employees can log into Qualtrics and create surveys. You can get to Qualtrics by going to myWCU and clicking the SURVEYS button in the quick links, or you can type in wcu.qualtrics.com into your browser and it will take you to the log in page. The learning curve for Qualtrics is a bit steeper than Forms.
Option #4: Poll Everywhere
PollEverywhere is already a part of many of your class experiences. Remember that PollEverywhere is not really designed as a survey tool but rather as a live polling tool. It will really only be useful to you in an online environment if you couple it with your synchronous virtual classroom tool (Zoom, Collaborate, or Teams) and from our point of view, it may be more difficult to be running the virtual meeting tool and Poll everywhere than to use the more limited polling tools already available in those environments. If you have a number of existing PE polls, however, it might be a good option for you. We are not advising PollEverywhere as a solution during the emergency online period in Spring of 2020.
For all of these, call or email ITHelp first and they should be able to get you started.
Open Help Sessions for All Instructors
The CFC is hosting multiple open sessions for all instructors to learn how to access Blackboard and its general suite of tools. Due to new social distancing guidelines set forth by Human Resources established on March 16, we will be offering these sessions through the following video-conferencing link:
Dates and times are as follows:
Monday, March 16 – March 20
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Blackboard Training Sessions – Specifically for WCU
Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 9 am – 11 pm – The link will be posted here.
Module 1: Collaborate Essentials
This module is designed to give participants a solid foundation, enabling them to successfully deliver live, interactive Collaborate sessions. Participants will learn about the key features and core functions of the Collaborate user interface. They will learn about session roles and how to effectively manage the communication tools, understand audio indicators, manage session and participant interaction, display the whiteboard and PowerPoint content, and record a session.
- Identify key features and core functions of the user interface
- Understand the communication tools
- Utilize the whiteboard and display PowerPoint content
- Use the recording features
- Recognize best practices and use cases
Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 11:15 am – 1:15 pm – The link will be posted here.
Module 2: Creating Engagement using Collaborate Web Conferencing
In this module, participants will build upon what they learned in the Essentials session. They will learn about the advanced Collaborate features and how to use them to support dynamic, interactive learning.
- Review essential Collaborate tools
- Discover the reasons for engaging the virtual learner
- Recognize how to use the timer and utilize it to facilitate sessions and breakout groups
- Understand breakout groups and how to facilitate small group collaboration
- Utilize the polling tool to engage participants
- Access session administration reporting tools
- Identify key accessibility features
- Identify best practices for engaging participants
Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 2:15 pm – 4:15 pm – The link will be posted here.
Module 3: Increasing Web Conferencing Success —
Ever wonder why some sessions seem to be effortless, while in others there are difficulties entering the session and getting participants to interact? In this session, moderators will learn best practices for creating interactive, problem-free Collaborate sessions. In addition, there will be an open Q&A forum designed to answer your questions on how to accomplish specific activities in your Collaborate sessions.
- Differentiate between the Collaborate Original and Ultra experiences and effectively switch between the two
- Understand the importance of using the best web browser to deliver successful sessions
- Access Collaborate from a LMS or from the Collaborate server
- Implement best practices for delivering problem free sessions
- Develop interactive sessions to engage participants into active learning
- Locate resources for moderators and participants
National Cohort Training Available at No Cost From Blackboard
Sign up for a date and time that works for you: – https://go.blackboard.com/Instructor-webinar-series
Wednesday, March 25, 9:00 am – 11 am – Blackboard Basics Mini-Workshop
Blackboard Tools for Western Carolina Live Session I
- Forums, Blogs, and Journals
- Create, Manage, and Grade
- Advanced Discussion Settings
- Group Discussions
- My Blackboard Posts
Wednesday, March 25, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm – Blackboard Basics Mini-Workshop
Blackboard Tools for Western Carolina Live Session II
- Create Tests and Surveys (6)
- Question Types: Auto Graded and Instructor Graded (7)
- Reuse Questions: Pools, Random Blocks, and Question Sets (8)
- Advanced Test Creation Settings (9)
- Deploy Tests and Student Exceptions (10)
- Due Date Exceptions (11)
- View Assessment Item Analysis Statistics (12)
Wednesday, March 25, 2 pm – 4 pm – Blackboard Basics Mini-Workshop
Blackboard Tools for Western Carolina Grade Center Intensive
- Columns and Manual Grade Entry (13)
- Configure Default Total or Weighted Total Columns (14)
- Column Options and Organization (15)
- Grading Periods and Smart Views (16)
- Letter Schemas (17)
- Add Additional Calculated Columns (18)
A Case Study in Marketing: The Danger of “Free” (Especially for Public Employees)
My dear faculty friends. Many of you are on marketing email lists of a number of educational technology companies. They’ve given you good value for trading your email address for many different incentives at conferences or for webinars or for whitepapers. They are now descending upon you with “free” offers that might not be as good as they seem in the first place.
Now you are getting exciting announcements that they are offering you free access to their predictive learning or course management platform or free publisher content. Think twice. This falls in the free like a puppy category, and it could put you in a great amount of risk.
We are making every effort to provide you with the basic tools you need to meet the needs of your students, and although these other tools may seem to be THE ANSWER TO EVERY PROBLEM IN THE UNIVERSE, they still need to go through all of the contract and data handling review that any software or service requires.
North Carolina has some particular laws with relation to the retention of student course data and any software we use is required to be properly vetted. And even “free” click-throughs are contracts that you aren’t authorized to enter into on behalf of the university. (See the software policy). Unfortunately for most of these free products, by the time we are able to get them through the process and have their lawyers and our lawyers align the agreements and check all of their data retention policies, we’ll probably be outside of the window of this particular set of circumstances.
If you absolutely have to move the ball forward we can start the process of getting the software reviewed, but, if I were you, I’d dig into the tools we have before I even considered putting content into a platform that at most will be “free” for 6 months and then will be asking for money. (For example one of the huge offenders is offering a wonderful platform that when it goes to paid costs on average $10 a student a year, and we don’t have a mechanism for paying for that particular service.)