Strategies for Moving to Distance Learning Model
The tips and strategies below will help you to continue teaching your face-to-face course during this time of temporary disruption of campus operations.
- Keep in mind that students have differing levels of access to technology and internet connectivity, and that the availability of computer labs, libraries, or other public access points may be limited during an event that causes a campus disruption. Alternate assignments or accommodations may be necessary on a case by case basis.
- Keep in contact with students and encourage them to communicate with each other. Ongoing communication will help students stay engaged and feel connected.
Communicate with students
If you haven't already, it is recommend that you establish remote contact with students to explain next steps. You may not have email addresses for your students, at least not ones that you know they are checking. For your initial communication, we recommend messaging students at:
- Any email addresses you have on file.
- Their email on file with Blackboard, by making a Blackboard announcement in each of your courses (see below).
- Their "preferred email" in CUNYfirst via a CUNYfirst notication (see below).
Option 1: Use Blackboard announcements to communicate with the entire class. When you create an announcement, students are notified at their BMCC email. You can attach files, like readings or assignments, to announcements. Announcements have some advantages over email: you can attach larger files than you can with email (though there is a file size limit) and there is a running record of what you have shared.
Option 2: Use Blackboard email to communicate with individual students. If you do not have a list of student email addresses, you can use the Blackboard email tool to contact students. You can select individual students or multiple students to email. Messages will be sent to the email address that the student has listed in CUNYfirst.
Option 3: Send a CUNYfirst notification message by doing the following
- Login to CUNYfirst
- Click on Faculty Center from the CUNYfirst Menu
- If you have not done so already, please update your semester to show the courses you are teaching for the current semester.
- Click on the Class Roster icon for your desired course.
- You can click on each individual student to email them using your default email application (i.e. Outlook) which will allow you to attach files to disseminate to your students.
- You can select multiple students or you can click on notify all students to send a mass notification via the CUNYfirst system. Keep in mind, this does not allow for attaching a file.
Option 3: Set up a phone number on Google Voice. If you would like the option of communicating with students via phone or text message, but would prefer not to give out your phone number, you can create a free phone number on Google Voice. Once the number is set up, you can communicate using the Google Voice app on your phone, mobile device, or computer. You can also forward Google Voice calls to your phone.
Option 4: Communicate in real time using Zoom. Zoom is a web conferencing tool that you can use to video conference, screen share, or text chat with individual students or groups of students. You can set up a free Zoom account, which is limited to 40 minutes per online meeting.
Option 5: Use Blackboard Collaborate. Set up a Virtual Office Hours in your Blackboard course. You can leave the virtual room 'open' all day or only during certain hours for student access.
Share materials with students
Option 1: Use Blackboard announcements. When you create an announcement, students are notified at their BMCC email. You can attach files, like readings or assignments, to announcements. Announcements have some advantages over email: you can attach larger files than you can with email (though there is a file size limit) and there is a running record of what you have shared.
Option 2: Organize your materials in Blackboard content areas. Create weekly folders with all of your course materials.
Access library materials
Library resources can be accessed from off-campus using your BMCC ID barcode. Students are auto-loaded into the system each semester, but faculty may need to activate their access if they have not checked out a book or logged in remotely for a while. For more information, see the Log in from Home instructions from the BMCC Library.
Facilitate student-to-student interaction
Option 1: Start a conversation on the Blackboard discussion board. The discussion board allows you to create multiple spaces, or "forums," for different topics. You can start the discussion and students can respond to you and to one another in a threaded format.
Option 2: Use social media. Start a group for your class on a social media site that your students already use (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Give lectures online
Option 1: Make a video presentation to share online. There are many tools that you can use to create a presentation, from the camera on your phone, which you can use to make a video of yourself, to tools like Screencast-O-Matic, which allow you to capture slides on a computer screen and narrate them. You will also need a place to put your video files. Our Online Lectures page goes over some of the options.
Option 2: Give a lecture in real-time using web conferencing. Web conferencing tools such as Zoom can be used to video conference, screen share, or text chat. You can set up a free Zoom account, which is limited to 40 minutes per online meeting. Tips for educators using Zoom can be found here. If you have a Blackboard course, you can use BB Collaborate.
Collect assignments from students
Option 1: Students email their work. Students can email you a file (e.g., Word document) containing their assignment.
Option 2: Students submit work their work via the Blackboard assignments tool. The Blackboard assignments tool allows students to upload their work and organizes it in the Blackboard grade center for you to review.
Option 3: Students share content that they created online. Students may create work using an online tool, such as Google Docs, and share their work with you. Students will need to know your email address in order to set the sharing permissions. In most cases, the tool will generate an email notification that a file has been shared with you.
Option 1: Utilize alternative assessment methods. Consider using writing assignments or other student projects in lieu of exams. These types of assignments engage students and may be simpler to manage in the event of temporary course disruption.
Option 2: Create Blackboard tests. These can range from low-stakes checks for understanding to high-stakes exams. We recommend against high-stakes tests unless you already have experience working with Blackboard tests. Visit the Blackboard help center page with instructions for creating and working with tests.
The Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction (ERI) Checklist is a tiered list of considerations, tips, and actionable strategies to enact during an institutional move to temporary remote instruction of classroom-based courses. It is presented in three phases, according to prioritized needs:
- Start Here: Preparing for Success
- Next Steps: Guiding Students and Their Learning
- Longer Term Considerations: Teaching Effectively in a New Environment