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Resources and Recommendations for Teaching Online

Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) offer tips for switching to online instruction and testing at the end of fall 2020 semester

The Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) team shared the following "Top Tips" for teaching and testing online as the university switches from three teaching modalities to online instruction after Thanksgiving Break. The first tip includes information about a "preparing to test online" workshop scheduled for Nov. 20. 

If you would like to explore more resources, visit the Provost’s Continuity in Teaching and Learning for Fall 2020 website. Contact the TLOS team at tlos@vt.edu if you have questions or want to share an idea. 

1. Adapt for Remote Testing and Assessment
Moving face-to-face exams to an online format may require modifications beyond the transfer of the exam content to Canvas. When adapting your assessments, consider what you hope students will be able to demonstrate by the end of your course and in what ways they can show their skills and knowledge. CETL has gathered remote testing and assessment resources to assist you and has partnered with TLOS to offer a Preparing to Test Online workshop on Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to Noon, with additional time for one-on-one assistance from Noon to 2 p.m.

2. Plan for Testing Accommodations
With the move to fully-online teaching, students with accommodations for proctored testing will no longer have access to on-site proctoring at the Werth Testing Center in Lavery Hall. If you have questions about specific accommodations, contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 540-231-3788 or email ssd@vt.edu and provide the student’s name along with your question. The student’s disability counselor will contact you as soon as possible to discuss options to meet the student’s accommodation needs. You can find additional information on the Accessibility and Accommodations page.

3. Explore Alternatives to Proctored Exams
You may want to consider options beyond administering online exams, including project- and problem-based approaches, presentations, portfolios, writing assignments, group projects, and other options. The best approach may be a combination of strategies, tools, and options

4. Carefully Consider the Use of Webcams 
There are many sound reasons to use cameras during remote instruction, but requiring students to turn on their cameras can have unintended consequences. The TLOS webcam guidelines can help you consider the use of cameras to support your instructional objectives and find the right balance in using video in your teaching.

5. Secure your Zoom Meetings
The first step in protecting your Zoom meetings is to remain signed in to Zoom through virginiatech.zoom.us. Then, as a host, you can remove uninvited attendees and block inappropriate content by actively managing the participants. You can keep your Zoom meeting private by restricting participants to specified authentication profiles and by using a waiting room or passcode. Never share a Zoom meeting URL or meeting number on social media, posters, or other public media. Instead, share a link to a Canvas page where you can manage access, or require participants to register for the meeting in advance. For more information, review the guidelines for securing Zoom meetings in the 4Help Knowledge Base and on Zoom’s website.

6. Choose Accessible Course Materials
Use Ally to improve the accessibility of Canvas course materials. Ally scans your uploaded content within Canvas and gives you suggestions to improve file accessibility. Students can use Ally to download alternate formats of documents that best suit their learning preferences.

7. Submit Final Grades
The final step of every semester is submitting final grades. You can export HokieSPA-compatible grades from Canvas, but before exporting, you must correctly configure the Grades tool. Once you have the grade file, you can upload it by following the registrar’s grade submission instructions.

8. Learn Through Self-Paced Training
You can find several self-paced training options for assessment and evaluation tools on TLOS’ On-Demand Training website. If you have questions about any of these tools, submit a 4Help incident referencing the specific tool and providing as much information as possible. For a full list of workshops, visit the TLOS Professional Development Network catalog.

9. Request a Consultation 
For assistance with designing online instruction and assessments, request a consultation with CETL, or schedule an appointment with a TLOS consultant. For assistance with the technology applications used for assessment, submit a 4Help incident, referencing the specific tool and relevant details.

10. Start Planning for the Spring Semester
Good teaching can happen in any course modality, but moving to an online environment requires intentional planning to achieve the same learning outcomes as in a face-to-face course. Using the Canvas C.O.R.E. (Critical Online Readiness Elements) will help you to improve your Canvas course site. Next, enroll in the self-paced Online Teaching Certification workshop that provides an introduction to the unique considerations involved in teaching an online course. By completing the workshop modules, you will be better prepared to overcome the challenges and leverage the opportunities presented by online courses.

Updated November 16, 2020.