Technology Basics for Academic Continuity – Instructor Focused
These recommendations are to provide academic continuity; therefore, focusing on transitioning traditional lecturing online and referencing specific documents may be a reliable approach. Temporary remote teaching is not the time to adopt new teaching approaches. Blackboard Learn, UIC’s Learning Management System, has simple tools to help you transition your class online temporarily.
This page has links to how-to videos, quick guides, webinars, and recommendations to help make the transition to remote teaching more manageable. There are planned webinars and “virtual office hours” to help instructors use Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate. Please sign up if you need help.
Due to the large volume of requests we are receiving, you may experience delays for some requests as we prioritize them. The LTS team is working as efficiently as possible to provide the quality of service you are accustomed to.
We recommend the following tools to maintain academic momentum:
- Blackboard Collaborate to present your lectures
- Blackboard Discussions to hold class conversations using discussion forums through Blackboard Learn
- Blackboard Email to communicate with all students at once through Blackboard Learn
- UIC Email using Outlook or your preferred email tool to answer questions for specific students or to send FAQs
The tools above should transition most classes to an online environment smoothly without adding additional anxiety for you and your students. Other courses that normally use face-to-face teaching approaches, such as labs and hands-on skills development like theater and music, may still use Blackboard to maintain communication and share documents with their students.
Basic Technology Required for Instructors
- Laptop or desktop computer
- Chromebooks are used to perform a variety of browser-based tasks with most data and applications, such as Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Collaborate, Google Docs, and Office 365, residing in the cloud rather than on the machine itself. This can result in reduced functionality.
- Tablets can work, but the functionality is typically reduced.
- Microphone – while this may be built into your computer, we recommend using an external device such as a USB microphone or headset.
- Internet – either commercially provided (e.g., Comcast, AT&T), or a wireless hotspot through your mobile phone.
- Comcast Internet Essentials: Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Comcast is offering 2 months free to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Affordable Internet at Home for Eligible Households
- Optional: Webcam – a camera may already be built into your laptop; if not, you can use an external USB camera for video conferencing.
- Laptop or desktop computer
Basic Technology Required for Students
- Laptop, Chromebook, or desktop computer
- Note that Chromebooks are used to perform a variety of browser-based tasks with most data and applications, such as Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Collaborate, Google Docs, and Office 365, residing in the cloud rather than on the machine itself. This can result in somewhat reduced functionality, depending on your needs.
- Tablets and phones can work, particularly for joining/participating in online class sessions. Functionality to complete assignments is typically reduced, depending on their needs.
- If any of your students note that they do not have reliable access to a computer at home, ACCC may have a laptop to lend to them. Please direct them to fill out our request form at https://accc.uic.edu/forms/laptop-request/
- Internet – Service providers are offering connectivity solutions for students without access to wifi or internet. This list will be updated as offerings change or new ones become available.
- If none of the below opportunities are available to you, ACCC may have a cellular hotspot available to lend to you. Please fill out our request form at https://accc.uic.edu/forms/hotspot-request/
- FCC agreement: stating that providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots.
- Comcast Internet Essentials: Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Comcast is offering 2 months free to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- AT&T COVID-19 response offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low income families
- Xfinity Wifi Free for Everyone: Xfinity announced Friday that it will make its WiFi hotspots free to use by everyone for the next 60 days starting March 13 as part of its reaction to the coronavirus crisis. Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser.
- Sprint COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and, starting Tuesday, 3/17/2020, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge
- T-Mobile COVID-19 response follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge
- Verizon COVID-19 response: no special offers, but following the FCC agreement.
- Charter Free Internet offer for 2 months: Charter to offer free access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi For 60 Days for new K-12 and college student households
- Laptop, Chromebook, or desktop computer
Prior to the Contingency
Prior to the Contingency
- Test access to your equipment and resources at home before the need arises and ask your students to do the same. Contact us at LTS@uic.edu if you have any questions or problems.
- Contact your students prior to the first class date date and send a reminder for the first virtual class. Be clear with your instructions on how you will use Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate to manage your class, and the way students will need to contact you if they have questions.
- Set clear expectations about your availability and your estimated response time; 48 hours to respond to an email is a standard response time for online courses.
During the Contingency
- Maintain the same scheduled time and day of your in-person class for your Blackboard Collaborate sessions. This ensures that students who attend your class do not need to adjust their schedules to participate.
- Relocate your office hours to Blackboard Collaborate. If you expect many students, you can use a discussion board prompt in Blackboard to gather topics; then, address specific topics on Blackboard Collaborate.
- Ask your students to email you to arrange a Webex meeting or Zoom meeting to address individual students as needed.
- Prepare the content that you will share with your students before the Collaborate session. Formulas and diagrams should be prepared ahead of time or scanned. Be realistic about what can be done in an online session. Your goal is not necessarily to provide the exact same in-class experience, but to identify and address teaching and learning priorities during the disruption.
- Proctored testing is not practical in temporary remote teaching. Instead, consider holding final exams that carry less weight, e.g. “take-home” exams. Projects and multiple take-home tests may better reflect student learning in the case of a contingency.
- Students may have additional challenges that can amplify during times of stress or uncertainty. Reach out individually to students who were attending on-campus classes but are missing virtual classes. Don’t ignore expressed student needs (i.e. advising, counseling services, financial aid, etc.) and direct them to the proper student support services if needed.
Moving Classes Online
Below are published articles with tips and tricks to moving classes online:
- Moving Online Now – Article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Contains helpful tips, resources and advice.
- Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption – Google doc written by Jenae Cohn and Beth Seltzer, academic-tech specialists at Stanford University. This doc is geared for Stanford, but contains great information anyone can use.
Blackboard and Other Teaching Technologies Video Tutorials
Blackboard Tutorial for First-Time Users
Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate can help by providing a variety of services to connect instructors and students remotely so that work and learning can continue uninterrupted.
The ACCC-LTS has created a tutorial called “Blackboard Basic Steps for Academic Continuity.” This tutorial intends to guide instructors and students who are new to Blackboard, and is available in Blackboard Learn. For more information to locate this tutorial visit:
- Step by step instructions to access the Blackboard Basic Steps for Academic Continuity
- Watch a video tutorial on Blackboard Basics for Academic Continuity
Blackboard Video Tutorials
Besides scheduling virtual classes using Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate, there is a multitude of tools to help you with academic continuity. Recommended options for you are listed below:
- Useful Blackboard Webinar Recordings:
- General Communication and Engagement:
- Pre-record your lectures:
- Foster Online Discussions:
- Share Videos:
- Find classrooms that support lecture capture to prerecord your lectures: answers.uillinois.edu/uic/lecture-capture-locations
- Use your Personal Room in Webex to hold online classes or faculty meetings. Any student can join and even present, but a faculty member or staff needs to host the meeting. If you are new to Webex, watch this webinar on how to use Webex
- You and your students can also use Google Hangouts Meet for virtual team meetings and quick conversations (Google Meet now has recording capabilities)
- Please note, Google/Google Hangouts may be blocked in certain countries. Please ensure to accommodate international students through other communication mediums.
Find even more options:
Assessment & Grade Management
As the COVID-19 situation becomes more widespread and remote teaching is extended, students may need to take exams from off-campus locations.
You can use Blackboard to test student knowledge and collect assignments. Remind your students that they should use a wired connection when they take tests whenever possible. Wireless connections are more prone to network issues, as the stability of the signal depends on how long and how much bandwidth students draw, similar to 4G phone data connections.
The following can be accomplished using Blackboard:
- Distribute and collect assignments. Learn how with the Blackboard Assignments video (10 min)
- Deliver tests. Learn how with the Blackboard Tests video (12 min)
- Score with rubrics. Learn how with the Rubrics: Make Grading Easier video (7 min)
- Grade electronically and provide feedback. Read how to Record Audio and Video at Blackboard Help webpage
- Post grades and maintain a digital gradebook. Learn how with the Navigating the Grade Center video (10 min) or by reading the Navigating Grading Blackboard Help webpage.
If you are not familiar with Blackboard assessments, here are some suggestions:
- Consider posting a low-stakes Blackboard quiz for practice
- Use multiple-choice and true/false questions at first to practice creating questions.
- Work up to essay questions once you’re comfortable with creating auto-graded questions like multiple choice and true/false.
- Create assignments to be turned in online:
- Post and collect a practice assignment in Blackboard
- SafeAssign may be used on assignments (Original & Ultra) or test essay questions (Ultra only) to determine the originality of student work.
Make student presentations digital
- Ask students to present during class via Blackboard Collaborate
- Have students produce Panopto or YouTube videos and submit their presentations in Blackboard
- Ask students to create posters or presentations that can be shared and online using Google Slides
UIC doesn’t have an enterprise proctoring solution. We recommend designing assessments and tests that promote learning. While cheating is sometimes unavoidable, here are some strategies to minimize cheating if your students have to take tests remotely:
- Be transparent with students about the learning goals and assessment strategies.
- Ask students an honor code question at the beginning of the test in Blackboard. (e.g., “As a member of the UIC community, I have agreed to act with honesty and integrity in all of my academic work, including this test.” True or False)
- Avoid easy-to-cheat formats such as multiple-choice or true/false answer questions for high-stakes tests.
- Ask complex, specific questions such as: “Define how a particular situation impacts your community.” Try to think about questions that won’t be likely to be found using a quick online search.
- Use Blackboard’s SafeAssign tool for essay assignments to help detect plagiarism. To help alleviate student anxiety, integrate learning activities that emulate the format of a higher-stakes assignment before asking them to produce the final work. Diversify assessment formats by relying less on essays and written exams and more on using students’ presentations.
- Design assignments with process questions, rather than single answers.
- Design open-book or collaborative exams.
- While taking a test, a professor can request students to record their screen and video/audio, and share the recording with the professor/TA using Panopto or Google Hangouts Meet.
For more strategies to avoid cheating, refer to this answer about common cheating situations and how to prevent them.
Register to Attend a Webinar
Register to attend a webinar or browse the calendar for past events to see the recorded webinar: answers.uillinois.edu/uic/webinars
Upcoming Webinars: Teaching Remotely – Basic Technology for Academic Continuity
Virtual Office Hours
These office hours are for questions you have on Blackboard that were not answered in video tutorials or workshops. Register below:
Host Classes Online Using Web Conferencing Tools
Host classes, lecture, office hours or 1-on-1 meetings with students using web conferencing tools. Webex, Zoom and Google Hangouts are available to UIC faculty:
Host a video and/or audio conference with integrated collaboration tools such as whiteboard, chat, and screen share. While hosts need a Webex account to initiate meetings, participants are not required to have an account.
Host a video and/or audio conference with integrated collaboration tools such as whiteboard, chat, and screen share. While hosts need a Zoom account to initiate meetings, participants are not required to have an account.
Host a conversation, video call, or phone call with up to 250 people at a time, and collaborate on Google documents. Hangouts sync automatically across devices. Users must create a UIC G Suite account to use Google Hangouts Meet.
- Get Troubleshooting Tips on VPN, Blackboard Learn, software, WiFi, virtual lectures using Collaborate, Zoom or Webex, and more through ACCC’s Guide: go.uic.edu/troubleshooting-tips
- Find the answers to the most common questions regarding teaching and learning in the UIC Answers Knowledge Base: go.uic.edu/TeachingLearning
- Help Desk & Support
- Support via email will be available Monday through Thursday, 7:30am to 9:00pm and Friday 7:30am to 7:00pm. Email LTS@uic.edu.
- Phone support will be available on a limited basis Monday through Friday 7:30am to 7:00pm by calling 312-413-0003 option 1. If you leave a message, a ticket will automatically be created on your behalf and we will follow up with you.
- Login & Password
- Most resources listed on this webpage are available to instructors, staff and students, and require a login with a valid UIC NetID and password. For assistance with your UIC account and password, please visit accc.uic.edu/services/security/account-admin.