Microsoft Resources for Teaching with Office 365

Microsoft Resources for Teaching with Office 365

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 learningWeb 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.

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CFC Open Sessions for Online Design and Blackboard

Open Neon Sigh

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:

https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/da120265dc4b4471a96d1bbd8b388946

Dates and times are as follows:

Monday, March 23 – March 25
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

 

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The PLEA for using just-in-time over in-real-time teaching modes!

It is easy to just assume that you will be able to have live class sessions online using Zoom or Collaborate at the same time and day they have been scheduled, but that will not produce a good learning experience for the students, nor will it be pleasant for you as the instructor.  We gathered a couple of really good posts that align with our approach to moving online quickly.

Do This, Not That

~Alison Wang, Online Teaching Do This Not That

Click on image to download the PDF. Creative Commons License Attribute No Derivative, No CommericalShared through Creative Commons, Attribute, No Derivative, No Commercial Purpose.

 

Do This, Not That Graphic

This has been flying around social media, but it’s one of the good ones. She refers to particular systems and programs but her advice is right on.

Please do a bad job of putting your courses online

What? Did I hear you correctly? YES!

As Rebecca Barrett-Fox says “You are NOT building an online class. You are NOT teaching students who can be expected to be ready to learn online. And, most importantly, your class is NOT the highest priority of their OR your life right now. Release yourself from high expectations right now, because that’s the best way to help your students learn.” ~https://anygoodthing.com/2020/03/12/please-do-a-bad-job-of-putting-your-courses-online/ 

And we like her list of 10 considerations:

  1. Your students know less about technology than you think. Many of them know less than you. Yes, even if they are digital natives and younger than you.
  2. They will be accessing the internet on their phones. They have limited data. They need to reserve it for things more important than online lectures.
  3. Students who did not sign up for an online course have no obligation to have a computer, high-speed wifi, a printer/scanner, or a camera. Do not even survey them to ask if they have it. Even if they do, they are not required to tell you this. And if they do now, that doesn’t mean that they will when something breaks and they can’t afford to fix it because they just lost their job at the ski resort or off-campus bookstore.
  4. Students will be sharing their technology with other household members. They may have LESS time to do their schoolwork, not more.
  5. Many will be working MORE, not fewer, hours. Nurses, prison guards, firefighters, and police officers have to go to work no matter what. As healthcare demand increases but healthcare workers get sick, there will be more and more stress on those who remain.
  6. Some of your students will get sick. Others will be caring for people who are ill.
  7. Many will be parenting.
  8. Social isolation contributes to mental health problems.
  9. Social isolation contributes to domestic violence.
  10. Students will be losing their jobs, especially those in tourism and hospitality.

Other recommendations she puts forward that we promote as well:

  • “Don’t do too much. Right now, your students don’t need it. They need time to do the other things they need to do.”
  • Make all assignments due at 11:59 pm on the same day of the week. Make them due on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. instead of Friday so that they use the evenings and week-end to get work done.
  • Allow students to take every exam or quiz twice so that if there is a technical problem (such as getting kicked out of Blackboard), they will have another opportunity to complete the exam.
  • Record lectures only if you need to.  But use the TED talk method: no longer than 18 minutes and focused on one concept, big question or idea.
  • Don’t fuss over videos.  Don’t worry about your ums and ers. It helps if you write a script (also provides a transcript for ADA purposes) and read through it a few times.  Then practice 5 times just the first few sentences or first few slides. That will get you into the recording without the jumpstarts we do at the start.
  • Do NOT require synchronous work!  Students’ life and schedules have been turned upside-down as well. A good use of Zoom or Bb Collaborate is to use it for office hours or tutoring sessions. But make it optional.
  • Do not use proctoring or ask students to record themselves when taking a test.  This is a violation of their privacy and they did not sign up for an online course.
  • Remind them of due dates. This is not hand-holding!!  They need contact from you and as we said before, their lives have been turned upside down.  Be kind to them and kind to yourself.  Be supportive and encouraging, Be a mentor and coach!
  • Respond to them when they ask for help.  These are anxious times and they will need encouragement.

We will continue to share quick tips and helpful resources over the next few weeks!

 

Your Survey and Polling Options

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.

CFC Open Sessions for Online Design and Blackboard

Open Neon Sigh

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.

https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/f96dcd803b1f4fa5b75fe74f6a1576fa

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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

    1. Forums, Blogs, and Journals
    2. Create, Manage, and Grade
    3. Advanced Discussion Settings
    4. Group Discussions
    5. My Blackboard Posts

 

Wednesday, March 25, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm – Blackboard Basics Mini-Workshop

Blackboard Tools for Western Carolina Live Session II

    1. Create Tests and Surveys (6)
    2. Question Types: Auto Graded and Instructor Graded (7)
    3. Reuse Questions: Pools, Random Blocks, and Question Sets (8)
    4. Advanced Test Creation Settings (9)
    5. Deploy Tests and Student Exceptions (10)
    6. Due Date Exceptions (11)
    7. 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

    1. Columns and Manual Grade Entry (13)
    2. Configure Default Total or Weighted Total Columns  (14)
    3. Column Options and Organization (15)
    4. Grading Periods and Smart Views (16)
    5. Letter Schemas (17)
    6. Add Additional Calculated Columns  (18)

 

 

 

 

 

Think Twice About That Free Offer

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.)