Faculty Stories

This page is reserved for tips and suggestions from you. If you’ve found a way for your students to make progress in your course despite missed class meetings–whether due to illness, bad weather, travel, or other circumstances–we encourage you to share your ideas with your colleagues. Please email us a brief description of what you did along with some reflections on how well it worked, and we will post these to the Continuity web site.

Using Zoom for an Appalachian Lit class

From Patricia O'Connor: Just finished the Appalachian Lit class (ENG 188-01). Class did more participation in this one as I invited them to take a few minutes and find a passage that supported a statement I gave them: "The eastern Kentucky mountain character Gertie Nevils in The Dollmaker by H. Arnow sees buying the Tipton Farm as a paradise of possibilities. Find passages that demonstrate how she shows good use of land and resources that fit into the theme of sustainable farming that we have seen in this novel and prior texts." Many class members contributed and became comfortable with unmuting their microphones, saying their names, and then making comments or reading passages. We even had two students attending class from aboard the Swim Team bus en route to a meet in Pennsylvania and could see and hear them clearly (with some friendly photo-bombing of the students sitting behind them!).

Discussing Milton via Skype Chat

When classes were canceled due to Hurricane Sandy, a graduate English class was unfazed. Instead of missing a class, the professor and students in Milton and Reader Response Criticism (ENGL 546) decided to meet virtually via Skype chat. The general consensus was that the virtual class was a success! Professor Daniel Shore and students Kate Zavack and Whitney Williams reflected on the benefits and challenges of running a discussion via Skype chat.

Stranded by Volcanic Ash Cloud

When Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano disrupted European air travel in 2010, among those affected were university professors and guest lecturers. At the Georgetown Law Center, classes were able to continue through by using videoconferencing.

Making the Most of Class Time

Nancy Crego (School of Nursing and Health Studies) was inspired to experiment with lecture capture technology when her class Transition to Professional Practice was canceled due to bad weather. Determined to figure out a way to catch her students up, she experimented with using lecture capture technology to create podcasts for her students.

Blogging through the Snowstorm

I now teach all my courses with an on-line component which amounts to a co-authored blog through WordPress. The course is a blend of the old and new, of course, but we blog together all semester long with I posting weekly class blogs and the students providing research blogs/comments. During the recent storm we did not miss a beat. Class kept meeting on-line as research blogs were posted and commented upon. We could have done even more if the forced recess had continued for another day or two. I also used the class e-mail function of Blackboard in this process.

Blogging for Distance Interaction

I had an existing blog for Turkish language learners “HoyaTurka” at wordpress.com that I revived for distance interactions last week. My beginner students were not very confident in posting in Turkish because of the (few) special characters required, but this gave me a chance to let them know about downloading Turkish keyboards. The most successful interactions were “fun” posts about Turkey — tourism and news in English– that we don’t usually get to in the normal classroom framework. This got the students to know each other in new ways. Not all of the students knew to “enroll” in the blog for e-mail updates. Despite the fun of blogging, most of our “real work” was done on the Blackboard sites in ways that we are already used to from normal assignments. Students are so comfortable with this medium that they e-mail me when they think I need to update the site. I remember the days when Blackboard was new for everyone…now if I can just get started on Elluminate…

Course Continuity, Flexibility

Because I travel, and because I live in the Maryland countryside, I’m always concerned about not being able to make it in even if campus is open. Therefore, in COSC010 I have an arrangement with my students that if something should prevent my attending class we would convene via Elluminate through Blackboard. However, when the campus was closed I chose an asynchronous solution that allowed course continuity while giving students some flexibility.

Using Elluminate to Teach Remotely

In keeping with the momentum of the semester, I made the decision Wednesday morning (with no plow in sight), to make use of this Elluminate option I had been hearing about.  CNDLS support made this option an efficient and effective reality for my HEST 042/ NURS 042 Human Growth and Development students. I was sucessful in reaching all my students  by email, who were as successful in prepping for the session as instructed on blackboard.  While none of us had participated in this medium, I found the discussion interaction valuable as did the students with positive comments about fluidity and engagement with the class and the content presentation.  ”It looks/feels just like we were in the classroom” says Melissa.  Am also pleased that most were able to view the film clips for them on the blackboard sharestream, from their remote locations. Overall, very successful alternative with conceivably identical outcome.

Tech, High and Low, Keeps Class Going

I held my seminar on The Politics of Social Welfare Policy (GOVT 386) by combining high-tech and low-tech methods.  The low-tech came in the form of a class held in a lounge in the Jesuit Residence where I live, with pizzas to fuel our conversation; the high-tech was on display in 3 students who joined the discussion using Skype and Gchat.  We kept an eye out for when the videochat students would wave their hand to weigh-in on an issue.

Using the Medium as the Message

Thanks to Blackboard’s digital classroom, I’ve been able to hold class this week for both my ENGL 041: Turn of the Century Fictions class and my HUMW 011: Nice Work class. The virtual classroom is a chat room function available to all students that requires no microphones, web cams or additional software.

Student Videos Provide Material for Coming Week

Michael Coventry and I are using a blog in our theory to practice class where students develop e-portfolios.  Since we were not able to give presentations on Tuesday, we had students upload their videos of themselves to the blog and then assigned the students to comment within predetermined groups on each other’s videos.  We will be conducting the presentations next week and talk about the experience of watching the videos.

Entire Course Put on Web

It may be of interest that I have put the entire course, all assignments and videos of all lectures on the web. Students use You Tube to report their work.  In this fashion, we have been able to maintain contact during the storm.

Success through Email Lists

Professor Olga Meerson in the Department of Slavic Languages has been using Blackboard and email correspondence to keep in contact with her students during this past week of inclement weather.  By sending her students links to assignments and supplemental material, as well as conversational instruction on completing those assignments, she has managed to keep the storm from undermining their course schedule!

Continuity and the Digital

This semester, our American Studies senior seminar is using Twitter as an asynchronous virtual classroom.  It’s lightweight, so it doesn’t distract, and many students had already incorporated Twitter into their daily data flow.  Twitter has helped us maintain a sense of continuity — and even fostered a kind of communitas — as we’ve labored independent of one another.

Keeping Up through Online Meetings

I wanted to share the story of Health Care Ethics (GUMC), STIA 322: Global Health Systems and Politics, NURS 903: Research Methods, and NURS 175: Introduction to Nursing Research.  We have kept up all of the classes through “traditional” ICT (Blackboard, email), and have started to use Skype in combination with Yugma (an online meeting software program).  Tomorrow we’ll have NURS 903 and NURS 175 via Skype, as well as using the Blackboard discussion option.

Meeting Virtually

I took up the Provost’s suggestion two days ago to think about ways to stay connected with students. Here’s what I did and how it worked:

Determined to Hold Classes as Usual

Thanks to Bill Garr and Janet Russell, I was already “up and running” with Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro 7 (AACP7) and had been using it for “Week End Help Sessions” – during which I would go over homework problems and answer questions on-line.  My Phys-042 class has an enrollment between 160 and 170, but since the Help Sessions were recorded and the recordings available via a URL provided by me through Blackboard, the on-line sessions usually drew no more than 50 or 60 students.

Keeping to the Syllabus

With my undergraduate course (Medieval Women Mystics), I have managed to stick to the syllabus for Mon 2/8 and Wed 2/10:  (1) Since we were finishing up a text and had already covered it in some depth, for Mon. the 8th I simply asked students to type up their responses to prompts that I had already given them and that were to be the basis for discussion; (2) For Wed.’s class, I posted on Blackboard my own notes for the lecture I was to give and suggested other supplementary reading they could do, while emphasizing safety– they should only do what they can do safely.

Using Skype to Connect

I am utilizing the Blackboard discussion forum for a large seminar class in CCT for Wednesday evening.  However, for my small thesis colloquium, wherein real time discussion is important, I decided to convene the colloquium with Skype’s conference tool (it’s free and can accommodate up to 25 people).  I wrote this morning to my students asking for feedback and their thoughts for the next colloquium meeting. Here’s what Anna Palladino wrote (I have her permission to quote from her post here):

Keeping Lab and Lecture Schedules Together

I frequently teach through MS PowerPoint lectures, so I endeavored to find a way to offer my students a chance to view my lectures through Blackboard while the university was closed.

Blackboard Facilitates Discussion

For keeping up with discussions, I have found the Blackboard  discussion forum to be a wonderful tool. Since I ask students to regularly contribute to discussions outside of class each week, keeping this going during the snow has been a cinch, and a familiar task for the students, who take it pretty much in stride. Yes, we will have missed our face-to-face conversations in French, but at least we can share ideas about the end of the novel we were reading (Gabrielle Roy’s Bonheur d’occasion), and put those blogs/forum contributions   into the context of our past classroom discussions on the book.

Webcasting a Lecture

I teach an introductory statistics course in the School of Foreign Service.   Because some of the material is lecture based, I decided to produce a webcast of my lecture.  While certainly not equivalent to holding class in person, it was the next best option given the circumstances.  I downloaded a free trial of Camtasia software, which allowed me to add audio to a PowerPoint presentation and then save it as a Flash video.  The video was then uploaded to a website through Screencast.com, which provided me with a link that I could share with students.  (The presentation can be accessed at: http://www.screencast.com/t/NjBmMDdiM2).   The product is fairly basic, low tech, and was easy to do.

Keep the Semester Moving Forward

I took seriously Jim O’Donnell’s call to keep the semester moving forward despite the snow and ice, and I’d like to share a success story that has taken even me by surprise.  My Media and Politics seminar meets on Tuesday mornings.  This Tuesday, we held class in real time using a blog set up for us by CNDLS. I sent an email to the class informing them of the plan and setting expectations, and posted PowerPoint slides relating to the class on Blackboard in advance. I prepared a rather lengthy post that introduced the topic and provided two sets of questions to get the discussion going.  The amount of engagement, the high quality of discussion, and the degree of interactivity that we achieved online was astonishing.  There is now a record of the class for those who were unable to take part. I also will be able to draw upon this material throughout the semester.  It helps that this particular class of mostly CCT and a few GOVT grad students is especially good, but I did not anticipate that the process would go so smoothly or be so productive.

Physics Professor Unfazed by Blizzard

We’ve just found out that Earl Skelton (Physics) has not canceled a single meeting of his course Phys-042! He’s been holding class online using Elluminate, and has also hosted real-time online help sessions along with his teaching assistants.