Online Learning Communication to Faculty: 3/9

To NJCU Instructional Staff:

There is much happening with the current COVID-19 virus as it continues to spread in the United States. In the event that the situation worsens and there is a disruption of campus operations the Department of Online Learning wanted to share a few resources and recommendations to instructors on planning for ways to continue instruction:

  1. Online Learning and IT developed an Instructional Continuity page that features some basic tips and resources available in the event of a campus emergency.
  2. Blackboard has an online community site. Instructors can register and converse with other faculty. There is a special area for Continuity of Education to discuss best practices.
  3. Blackboard had a webinar on 3/10 about transitioning to online specifically for this situation. Instructors can email to ask for a copy of the recording.
  4. InsideHigherEd Article on preparing for instructional continuity

In addition to these resources I wanted to offer some additional suggestions in regards to planning:

  • We would suggest the most comparable replacement for face-to-face instruction would be to use synchronous video options. As noted in the first link NJCU has access to Blackboard Collaborate directly in Blackboard and the IT Department has some licenses for Zoom which can provide live video conferencing. Using a webcam an instructor can interact with students and also share their desktop on their computer for instruction. Students can join in and can also participate. Sessions can be recorded and shared later on with the class.
    • It might be best to schedule live video sessions at the same time as your face-to-face class so that it emulates the face-to-face class.
  • An additional challenge is that some of your students may not have access to a desktop or laptop computer at home. Many students access content through the Blackboard app on their mobile device.  Keep that in mind when posting content and also asking students to complete assessments. Chunking or dividing your assessments into smaller parts might make it easier for those students that are unable to access a PC or broadband Internet.
    • An additional tip would be to start communicating with your class now and find out what technology is available to them in the event they are unable to come to campus.
  • Stay in frequent touch with your class. Online courses need to have weekly student-to-student and instructor-to-student interactions. Send frequent communications via Blackboard or email. Create discussion boards in Blackboard for the class to interact.
  • Think about what discussions you have in your class now. Ask similar questions in a discussion on a weekly basis. You may count these interactions as a participation grade in the class.
  • The easiest and recommended way to collect assignments is through Blackboard, but if you are in urgent need they can also be collected via email.
  • In the event of an interruption the Department of Online Learning and IT are here to support you. We ask you to email and we will setup time to speak with you and assist with your course. For students that are reporting technical issues we ask you to have them contact the IT Help Desk as their first point of contact.
  • If a disruption does occur Online Learning will send further information on getting support and live sessions we will host to assist with instructors and students during this time.

Thank you very much,

-Department of Online Learning