In the response to Covid-19, the university has adopted new teaching technologies that facilitate and support remote collaboration and learning. We noticed that the Answers.syr.edu page, while useful, is a little overwhelming. So we've distilled the most used technologies here, and provided links out to Answers for you to learn more.
We've also provided links under 'Teaching Formats & Resources' to some useful pre-recorded panel discussions that were held over the summer. Many of these are hosted by faculty who have taught various forms of online asynchronous and synchronous / hybrid / flipped and mixed format courses. These faculty members are a great resource for not only how to handle technology problems, but also provide much needed perspective regarding teaching formats and managing expectations.
Zoom is used most commonly for live synchronous class sessions. It is a 'light weight' easy-to-use meeting platform that Syracuse has purchased an enterprise-wide license for. Every SU faculty, staff, and student has a free zoom account via http://syracuseuniversity.zoom.us, and Zoom has also been integrated by ITS into Blackboard, so now your students can go right to the BB class site and hop onto the class session.
Zoom can record any session to it's 'cloud' where you have a shareable link to the recorded vent, or to your computer as an mp4 you can store or upload anywhere. Many faculty use Zoom to record slide shows / lecture content because it has a nice 'instructor in the corner' view.
- Comprehensive 'how to' for Zoom at Syracuse here.
- How to use Zoom in Blackboard - quick setup, keeps all your session recordings in one place for your class.
Blackboard collaborate is also used for live class sessions, and is a direct competitor to Zoom. I have used Zoom and Collaborate for the same class over two different semesters to compare them. It comes down to a matter of personal taste and ease-of-use for one person might be 'lack of features' for another.
- Zoom allows you to message all students while they are in breakout rooms, instead of having to go into each room to make an announcement
- Zoom makes the student enter the breakout room manually, so if someone is dormant and not paying attention to class, you'll know because they won't go to the breakout room.
- Both do session recording, however if you are recording a session and use breakout rooms, the Collaborate recording needs to be restarted when your rooms session is over. Zoom can pick up recording automatically when the breakout rooms are over.
Live class sessions are captured in whichever online meeting software you choose (Collaborate or Zoom), however both these tools only offer storage of your sessions for a few months, and then they will be deleted. This is likely fine for class recordings that aren't needed after the semester is over, so either of these tools is suitable.
Recording Lecture Material - Kaltura
Lecture material (slide shows etc...) can also be recorded in either Zoom or Blackboard just recording yourself running a 'screen sharing' session with your camera on. However, lectures are something you might want to hold onto and have students over multiple semesters watch on their own time. If this is the case, you need to not only record them, but store them long term. Enter Kaltura.
Kaltura is the University's new video storage and sharing platform, and it is also a video recording tool if you don't want to use Zoom or Collaborate for that purpose. Kaltura can store, over the long term, videos that you make in any software. Everyone at Syracuse has a Kaltura account at http://video.syr.edu
Collaboration and Connection
Anyone with a Syracuse netid has access to Microsoft Teams, so it's easy to set up a 'Team' for your class. The best feature of Teams for teaching is that there is a team chat space that you can moderate, and since the interface is modern and works on phones, students will use it to message you, and each other. Teams is also an easy way for you to replace email from students. Have students contact you through Teams for questions and concerns, and your Outlook inbox will thank you. You'll also get much nicer notification of messages. Each student's 'chat thread' with you is saved so you have a running conversation the whole semester. This makes it easy to see your communication with a student over time.
Showcase Student Work
You can facilitate online learning by having students develop a 'portfolio' for your class, to showcase a special project, or just to display their work to their peers. Syracuse has a website hosting platform 'Expressions' that offers a free WordPress website to every member of the SU community. Because WordPress is a ubiquitous website engine, and it's easy to use, it's a favorite for students and they take to it with relative ease and no training. WordPress offers nice 'themes' that look professional and showcase student works nicely.
Just ask your class to setup their own Expressions site, and have them share the link when they are ready.
File Sharing and Collaboration
Google Docs / Slides / Sheets
Every staff, student, or faculty member has a Google account managed by Syracuse. Simply go to the Answers webpage for the Google Suite at Syracuse to learn more.
- A collaborative use for Google Docs:
- Of all the specialized social media software for messages and chat out there, one of the simplest and most effective tools for corresponding in a Q&A format with students is to just open up a shared Google document that all students can edit, and have that be your 'weekly discussion' document. The difference between this and other more feature rich discussion threads? Students will actually use it because of it's simplicity.
- A collaborative use for Google Slides:
- Break students into groups (breakout rooms). Give each group edit access to a 'starting slide deck' created by you with their assignment or presentation objectives. You can watch them build it in real-time without having to enter their breakout room.
Troubleshooting / Classroom Issues
To ensure you have a successful start to the semester, we encourage you to do the following:
- Familiarize yourself with 'Learning Environments and Media Productions (LEMP) at SU. They run the classroom teaching stations and associated technology, and they have a range of resources on their Answers page.
- Review the instructions for logging into classroom computers here: Logging into Classroom Computers
If you have problems during the semester:
If you are having technical issues, such as the computer or screen not turning on, the mouse or keyboard not responding, etc., please contact the ITS Help Desk by calling at 315-443-2677, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by stopping into 1-227 CST.
If you are having trouble with the audiovisual components of the teaching station, such as the projector or screen / TV display, you should contact LEMP support at 315-443-2677.