Online Teaching Essentials
From Dean Nelson: “You can teach either synchronously or asynchronously. If you are teaching asynchronously, please make yourself available to students during the regularly scheduled time. If you are delivering your lectures at the regularly scheduled class time, it will also be helpful for the students if they can get the lectures asynchronously (i.e., at other times in the day). Some of our students have returned home to other parts of the world and requiring them to watch a lecture at 3 a.m. is difficult. Also, some students might experience localized technical difficulties, or we may even experience at times some wide-scale interruptions. These sorts of issues can be greatly alleviated if we are offering asynchronous content delivery.”
Recommended resources for online teaching and office hours.
Blackboard Collaborate Instructions
- Sign in at https://uic.blackboard.com using the Sign In button. Then enter your UIC NetID and password.
Instructions and Videos
Blackboard Collaborate Notes, FAQs, Alternatives
- Recommended for teaching and office hours; already fully integrated into Blackboard Course sites.
- Also great for TA office hours.
- You or your TA will have to moderate discussions if students present or ask questions during a session.
- Dial-in phone numbers are available for sessions when host or student has trouble with audio/mic or internet connection.
- iPads: Application sharing is not currently supported on mobile devices (including iPads) or for screen readers in Blackboard Collaborate. If you are using a mobile device or screen reader, you can share files and a blank whiteboard with your attendees.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I schedule a Session or use the Course Room? You can do either one, just remember to inform your students/participants where to go. Using the Course Room is just like showing up to class. Simply join the room and you are online; just remember to show up on time! Scheduling a Session has some advantages: for example, you can have a Session even without you. Students can join and start presenting right away, and the session can be automatically recorded.
- How long does it take for a Blackboard Collaborate recording to publish? It can take up to a few hours for recordings to show up.
Follow this link for the UIC Blackboard Collaborate page.
Piazza is a tool that instructors can use to make online classes more interactive. In Piazza, anyone can ask and answer questions, providing benefits such as peer-to-peer learning, encouragement for students to raise issues or contribute perspectives, and a platform for participation that doesn’t require the often-fraught step of interrupting the instructor.
Piazza can be integrated with Blackboard (see instructions on ACCC answers page linked below).
During this unexpected time of remote learning, ACCC recommends that faculty use alternative assessment methods that avoid the need for secure proctored exams. For tips on online testing and assessment alternatives, see this short Remote Assessments and Examinations tutorial.
If you must deliver an online exam and need a method to ensure academic integrity, UIC is offering faculty access through May 31, 2020, to two online proctoring tools: Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor.
Respondus is available only for exams conducted via Blackboard. Access it from the Tools menu in all Blackboard courses.
If you choose to use Respondus, please remember that students may be dealing with varied technology access and setups at home. We encourage you to be flexible to accommodate their remote arrangements.
Contact LTS@uic.edu with any questions about remote assessments or the Respondus tools.
Resources for meetings, advising, office hours, and even teaching online. Learn more …
- Sign in at https://uichicago.webex.com using the Sign In button, and then enter your UIC NetID and password.
- Share the URL specific to your name (ends with / and your NetID) with your students via email.
- Start a meeting by pressing the green Start a Meeting button (will install desktop app) or press arrow to select “Use web app,” then press Start a Meeting button.
- Schedule a meeting with this video.
Instructions and Videos
Frequently Asked Questions
- If anyone can join my room, is it private or not? See “What is a Room Lock?” below.
- What is a Room Lock? Learn more here.
- Why schedule a meeting? Scheduling a meeting allows you to control who can come in and when, create a topic/agenda, set a password, set recurrence, allow another person to host, and more.
- Why schedule a meeting and not just start one? Think of it this way: When you start a meeting, it’s like sitting in your office, with the door either open or closed. Door open scenario: Someone can show up and either walk in or wait outside until called. The Room Lock feature explains this in detail. Door closed scenario: Someone can show up and knock; you can let them in or ignore them. If you enabled Automatic Lock, you will see them waiting in the Lobby and can choose if/when to let them in.
- Sign in at https://uic.zoom.us. You can then host or join a meeting.
Instructions and Videos
New Zoom recording settings (as of August 24, 2020)
- Cloud recording downloads: By default, the ability for anyone with a link to the cloud recordings to download the recording will be turned off. Hosts can still enable this download access for specific recordings.
- Access to cloud recordings: By default, only those individuals who have a University of Illinois Zoom account will be able to view cloud recordings. Hosts can turn off this setting as a default for all of their recordings or on a per-recording basis.
- Recording disclaimer: Illinois law requires that individuals be made aware of, and have the opportunity to decline, being recorded. Zoom’s recording disclaimer feature will prompt participants to agree to be recorded or have the option to leave the meeting. Zoom will also ask the host to confirm before starting a recording. These settings will be required; hosts will not be able to disable this. Those participants who are only connected via phone will receive audio notifications of recording starting, stopping, or resuming.
- Auto-deletion of cloud recordings after 180 days: With the rapid increase in the utilization of Zoom since it was first made available at UIC in March, there is a need to manage the storage space available for cloud recordings. For this reason, cloud recordings will be automatically deleted after 180 days. Hosts are still able to recover a recording for 30 days after deletion. To learn how to review your existing cloud recordings, please visit answers.uillinois.edu/uic/105062.
Tips and Helpful Links
Does your teaching and/or research require:
- big data analytics clusters
- collaborative research data storage
- high-performance computing clusters
- high-performance networking
- secure research environments
If so, check out ACER (Advanced Cyberinfrastructure for Education and Research). This group provides both physical resources and consulting services for UIC faculty. Learn more at acer.uic.edu.
- Good audio: Having good audio is crucial to minimize breaks in your voice. Use a microphone headset or any microphone/headphone combination you already have, including AirPods. Laptops often have the microphone close to the speakers, creating a loop that will cause breaks in sound for the listener. Another pathway to fixing this when you lecture is to lower your speaker volume, be in a quiet room, and stay close to the laptop mic.
- Dial-in numbers are a great way to bypass computer audio issues. However, with increased demand, some services are reporting issues.
- Turn off video camera: The only time you should use a camera is to say hi! The rest of the time should be audio and screen share.
- Mute everyone else when you are lecturing. Listeners’ microphones will pick up background noises and create breaks in your lecture.
- Share your screen: Don’t forget to share your entire screen instead of individual applications. This makes it easier to swap between windows when you teach with multiple media.
- Do you need equipment from the university to teach your online class?
- Are you receiving questions from your students who need assistance with laptops, internet hot spots, or other items?**
If either of the above is applicable, visit this ACCC page for more information.
**Note: ACCC closed its student laptop and hotspot loaner program to new applications on Friday, September 18, 2020. The program will reopen to new requests for the spring 2021 semester. In the interim, please contact LTS@uic.edu with questions or concerns.
- Where do I store all of my virtual stuff?
- Where do I put course-related materials so that my students can access them? Or so that they can’t?
If these are questions you have been asking, visit UIC’s cloud-based storage info page. There you can learn about options such as Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, and Adobe Creative Cloud enterprise storage.
A few steps to help protect yourself from online threats …
Accounts and passwords – Regardless of how authentic an email may seem, if you have any doubt, you can always forward it to the College IT staff or to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm. Examples of potentially suspicious topics include password-change emails, requests for billing information, and warnings that your account is about to be deactivated. If you see anything odd, let us know. 😉
Email spoofing – All too familiar in the past couple of years, spoofing emails “look” like they are coming from people you know, but they are attacks in the hope that you will reply. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to prevent such attacks. General information about our faculty and staff—such as your name, email, and potentially your supervisor’s name—is publicly available on UIC websites and can easily be used to write a convincing email. Anyone can go to a legitimate email service (such as gmail, yahoo) and create an address that looks almost like the real person’s email. Often the message you receive will ask you to purchase something (such as gift cards) and email the information or serial numbers to the requestor, who appears to be your department head or supervisor. Here are a few tips to spot a spoof when the email just seems odd:
- Don’t reply!
- Check for inconsistencies such as the email address, the signature, and context.
- Always look at the actual email address—not the displayed name—to confirm who sent the email. You may have to expand the “sent from” field to even see this. This can be difficult with email clients on Smartwatch screens, mobile phones, or even desktops (which may just display the name, not the actual email address—and it’s the email address itself that will tip you off that this isn’t from whom you think).
- Be careful when drafting a fresh email to the real person. If you replied to the spoofed email, your email software might grab the spoofed address and save it to your address book. Be sure to delete it.
- Learn more about email spoofing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_spoofing.
Additional recommended ACCC links for online safety:
To use the UIC library, everyone (including faculty!) must complete the following items:
- Seat reservation: Reservation is now mandatory for seats, computers, printing, and circulation. Get one at go.library.uic.edu/seats
- UIC health check: Complete the daily form that allows you to be on campus: go.uic.edu/dailypass
All library assistance is being provided virtually at this time. You can:
- MATLAB for Students: Virtual application that runs on the Citrix server. Easy on students’ computer resources.
- MATLAB for Faculty: Powerful version. Downloads and runs on faculty computer. Internet required to connect to license server.
- MATLAB for Faculty and Students (free through June 30, 2021): All students, faculty, and staff are eligible to download and install these products on their personally owned computers or on university-issued computers. In addition, you will have browser access using MATLAB Online and MATLAB Drive. Learn more at the U of I Webstore.
With campus labs closed, do your students need to access specialized software such as Mathematica, R Studio, Adobe Acrobat, and SPSS? UIC students can use these programs from home via Windows Virtual Desktop.
Students: You have been given access to this resource. Learn how to connect to Windows Virtual Desktop using a mobile device, desktop application and browser, and more.
Instructors: If you are interested in the Windows Virtual Desktop environment for any specialized software you expect students to use, please visit this ACCC page.