LMS Governance Committee Recommends Avoiding Online Proctoring Solutions

The LMS Team have had several requests to launch online proctoring tools.  We researched the issue and presented the options to the LMS Governance Committee.  The committee, after consideration of the market leader, Respondus, put forward the following recommendations related to proctoring tools.

 After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of these products and remote proctoring at large, the LMS Governance Committee voted unanimously to not adopt the Respondus Lock-down Browser and Respondus Monitor with the following justification: 

Respondus Lock-Down Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within a learning management system.  It is used for securing online exams in classrooms and proctored environments.  

Analysis and Conclusions

  • Not an appropriate solution for online exams given at a distance as it only locks down the browser on one device. 
  • Does not prevent using multiple devices to look up information and collaborate with others using another device. 
  • Does not encourage authentic assessment. 

Respondus Monitor uses a student’s webcam to video them taking the exam.  

Analysis and Conclusions

  • More resource-intensive to implement – The LMS team will not be able to have this in place immediately. 
  • Will create duplicative work – will need to pay for the continued license and will have to go through the implementation again with the new LMS. 
  • Student privacy concerns – Students did not ask to go online or agree to video themselves. There are ethical concerns about student privacy.
  • Bandwidth resources concerns – We are already hearing of students having bandwidth issues and issues of exams being submitted as incomplete when students are using their phones to take exams in in the LMS; this will increase when they are also recording themselves. 
  • No budget to extend usageRespondus is offering their tools for free only through July of 2020. 
  • Ignores Academic Integrity Task Force recommendation. 
  • Does not encourage authentic assessment.

The LMS Governance Committee also voted unanimously on March 27, 2020 to deliver the following message concerning any type of video remote proctoring: 

 The LMS Governance Committee strongly advises all faculty to NOT require that any students record themselves taking any assessment.  This includes not using Zoom, Panopto, Youtube or Blackboard Collaborate for recording. The Coulter Faculty Commons is assembling resources on how to create alternative assessments that can be used in various disciplines. 

LMS Governance Committee 

Jonathan Wade – Senior Educational Technologist, Chair
Amy Davis – LMS Analyst
Annette Littrell – Associate Chief Information Officer / Academic Engagement & IT Governance
Eli Collins-Brown – Director, Coulter Faculty Commons
Jon Marvel – School Director EMPM/Professor
Kenneth Chapman – Tech Support Specialist
Lee Nickels – Director Assessment & Instruction Technology, CEAP
Scott Barlowe – Associate Professor
Siham Lekchiri – Assistant Professor 

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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New to Online? Consider Using Text and Images

Yes, most of us like shiny, flashy, and interactive technologies.

But consider:

How many truly awful webinars have you experienced?

How many times have you had to log back on, or fight with your microphone settings?

And, indeed, we have three well-provisioned video conferencing platforms that should handle the traffic, Zoom and MS Teams meetings.  We also have Panopto which will allow you to record video and audio to share with your students. And video and live conferencing may be more engaging when done well, but it isn’t necessarily easier, and it is most certainly far more difficult to make compliant with accessibility laws and to get to work consistently over low-bandwidth connections.

Even if you are adept with technology, we urge you to tend toward simplicity with students who didn’t seek to be online students. They may not like to read, but text may be your and their best friend.

If you create text within the LMS using any of the built-in functions, it is automatically usable by screen readers and available for students who need that tool. Discussion boards may be clunky, but once you’ve mastered the flow, they work, and at low bandwidth.

If you choose to do live classes or to record videos, you may want to consider pre-scripting them so that you can easily send a copy of the transcript to any student who requests the transcript.

So consider whether your high-stakes information and content might better be delivered as text, as text and photos, or as a recorded video that has an identical transcript.

Remember that you can insert images and links to YouTube videos easily within the LMS from the editor and that links to external sites work as well. You can even create a reflection assignment or discussion board afterwards.

For images, remember copyright issues (a great guide from our library is available here) and remember that there are several cultural heritage institutions that provide their images free for educational use (like the Smithsonian).

And, if you’ve been forced to move online because of outside factors, be kind to yourself. Stick with simplicity or use simplicity as a fallback when complexity causes confusion.

Remember that the best practices of online course-creation call for a 1-2 year preparation for a well-designed online course and that many outside companies suggest a budget in the tens of thousands for well designed video and interactive content. You don’t have the time for that. You have the core of content and can use tools like Zoom or Collaborate as extensions of the relationships that will get us all through this time of change together.

Focus on getting a working wall of sandbags built to channel the water for a short period of time. This isn’t time to try to build one of the wonders of the world.

We’re here to help you with your technology, but don’t forget that words and reading are still one of the most powerful technologies, and that they still have their place in the world of online teaching and learning.

Alternative assignments for Snow Days

“Don’t let a snow day catch you off guard!”

“I’ve had to revise my syllabus twice, changing the schedule, and as a result, changing the weight of the first two exams…it’s an unfortunate start…not something that cannot be overcome.” – Professor Brian Pilecki

Technology-based assignment alternatives:
  1. Lecture / Discussion
    • Record a lecture (easy solution – you can use Microsoft PPT with voiceover or Panopto)
    • Use a discussion board for students to discuss the topic and respond to each other
  2. Hold class synchronously – Zoom
  3. E-learning days using the LMS
    • Use Ted talks or other similar resources to prompt learning and discussion.
    • Taping video or audio lectures ahead of time on subjects that can be placed anywhere in the semester, but need to be addressed
  4. Remind101 – text messaging from teacher to student where numbers are anonymous
What if students lose electricity?

Have students form groups at the beginning of the semester, share contact information that way if phones or computers die there is likely a possibility that someone still has a charge. Even if campus is closed, students on campus can get together to work on groups using technology or physical assignments.

Offline assignment alternatives:
  1. The dreaded paper
    1. Pre-written prompts broad enough to relate to anything taught up to the current period of the semester
  2. Creative use of snow
    1. Health: get out in the snow and have students take baseline stats and then record their exercise and retake stats
    2. Science: “kitchen test” with snow
    3. Math: Calculate speeds of sleds etc.
    4. English: creative writing pieces
    5. Arts: create art using snow or through observation of snow
    6. Education: students plan own alternative lesson for a hypothetical snow day

For more information on this or anything relating to course content or pedagogy, please contact the CFC 227.7196