Shifting to e-Teaching: 3 – Answers to Ten Most Frequent Questions

Dieser Beitrag wurde von Herrn Ezzedeen Shahada von der Fakultät Gesellschaft und Ökonomie verfasst, der kürzlich folgende Tipps zum Aufbau eines Onlinekurses veröffentlicht hat. An dieser Stelle möchten wir uns ganz herzlich für die Möglichkeit bedanken, die Tipps hier abbilden zu dürfen. Wenn auch Sie Tipps zur Online-Lehre oder Best-Practice-Beispiele haben, würden wir uns freuen, diese auch hier abbilden zu können. Bitte schreiben Sie uns eine Mail an elearning@hochschule-rhein-waal.de.

Among the many options inspiring professors and instructors to launch their initial online classes, the biggest question is still what really works for them and what does not. The abrupt move to remote teaching has caused disorientation to a lot of lecturers around the world.  Those who are less experienced with teaching online are the most affected group. Simultaneously, less acquainted students with eLearning have anxiety, and they are confused about the sudden new learning mode. This is very normal in seasons of calamity. However, any respond to handle the problem should be positive and realistic! Both lecturers and learners should not set high expectations for the introductory online sessions. They are like trial versions. They will not be ideal. However, they ought not to be the worst onset ever! All what should be done is to concentrate on saving the day. Certainly, the quality of online teaching and learning will escalate gradually throughout the whole summer semester, 2020.

In this post, you will find answers to 10 frequent questions about teaching remotely. Earlier, general principles of online session design, and how to put them into practice  have been discussed.

1. What is the easiest way to create an online session on Moodle?

The easiest way to design a first online session, with a minimum use of unfamiliar technologies, is to modify your teaching materials to fit virtual environments. I am referring to the materials and techniques you always deal with in face-to-face seminars. But, what kind of modifications should be carried out? All adjustments should go on the direction of reinforcing your online presence as a lecturer, especially if you have decided to teach asynchronously. In regular seminars, students see and hear what you explain. Besides, they raise up hands to ask questions and discuss some points. Therefore, your efforts in clarifying knowledge should not be absent from online learning platforms (Moodle in our university). Students should always feel and know that you are there to support them.

Because of the popularity of PowerPoint Presentations among lecturers, let’s take them as an example. It is possible to amend the presentations by typing some explanation under each slide. Script in the note section what you would exactly say in the seminars about the content. Students will then have the chance to read the scripts. By doing this, you enhance your online role as an instructor. Of course, the level of engagement varies here. To improve the situation a little bit more, use the audio feature in PowerPoint slides (watch here how it works). In addition, try to teach your content in segments. Do not leave any session empty of knowledge self-assessment activities. Before the date of the session, send the students an email (or any notification). State there related details and explicit information about how they are going to learn. After the session, you can also send them another email to summarize some points and introduce to them the following topic. Staying in touch with your audience, by the methods you have identified, is advantageous to develop next sessions and general performance. I think this is the least you can do to minimize the side effect of distance learning!

2. What does simplicity mean in online course design?

Simplicity is a key feature for E-Learning. The instructions, knowledge materials, feedback, assessment, comments, and any process of learning on virtual environments should be clear and systematic. Simplicity includes the application of user-friendly tools that you, as a lecturer, and your students are conversant with. Before activating a new tool, be certain that both you and your students are capable of dealing with it. Simplicity also implies that you should take feasible actions and do not complicate things. For example, if you are run out of time and you are struggling with constructing an online quiz, be workable and resilient. Upload one file of the questions and in another file list the Q&A (students still need to know why their answer was right or wrong). It is not a problem! In a next session, attempt to innovate a more interactive technique of examining (e.g. Moodle quizzes or H5P activities).

3. What technology tools should I use to stay aligned with the GDPR during e-teaching?

To maintain alignment with the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR), during teaching in times of Coronavirus pandemic, use the technology infrastructure of our university:

  • Moodle/ WordPress: as  eLearning platforms
  • Sciebo: as a cloud storage for saving and sharing files
  • Camtasia: as a screen, a microphone, and a webcam recorder (capture all together)
  • Snagit: as a screen, a microphone, and a webcam (not all together)
  • Webex Teams/ Webex Meeting: as videoconferencing applications
  • DFNConf (Pexip): as a videoconferencing service (when it is stable once again)

→ E-Teaching Tip: Make learning easier for students by using popular eLearning tools at our institution. Otherwise, students, in a short time, have to familiarize with different technologies in addition to content learning (cognitive load issues). 

4. What is the difference between Camtasia and Snagit?

Both programs are adequate for video making. For instance, it is possible to record any presentation slide and explain by your voice what is going on.

  • Camtasia offers the option of recording your screen (1), webcam (2), and microphone (3) at the same time. You can enable or disable recording the webcam. In case you have captured the three together, but, later, you did not like the webcam output, you can delete or edit the camera track. This will not affect the track of the screen and sound. Camtasia’s advanced functionality brings creative educational videos to reality.
  • Snagit, however, captures either your webcam and microphone or your screen and microphone. While recording, it is possible to switch between the webcam and the screen. Snagit is simpler than Camtasia, and it has basic editing features. It is also great for designing user manuals by screen image shooting. To download any of Camtasia or Snagit, please contact the IT-Support of the university.

→ E-Teaching Tip: For engagement reasons, endeavor to record at least one session with your voice, face, and screen. Make students feel your online presence and know you (if they do not).

Idea: If you don’t want to create content videos, try to record a two minute video and introduce yourself and course. Place the introductory or welcoming video at the beginning of your course.

5. What should I consider when I do a screen-cast or record a video?

  • Leave a space/frame for the webcam output in your presentation slides (if applicable). Decide the space earlier, at the stage of designing a template for your slide
  • Clean your desktop from any personal files
  • Clean the wall behind you from privet elements 
  • Hide the bookmark bar on your browser. In general, don’t include in the recording any other personal bars or tabs on your screen.
  • Test your webcam
  • Test your microphone
  • Use an external microphone if you have a good quality one 
  • Disable any notifications or alarms on your computer or devices around you
  • Make sure that there isn’t anything else will disturb you
  • Record in comfortable standing or sitting positions
  • Check if you have sufficient lighting
  • Appear in an outfit that makes you feel confident (e.g. something you would wear in your face-to-face lectures)

6. What should I consider when I teach via video conferences?

In addition to the points mentioned in the previous answer (of Q5):

  • Start testing before you go live online at least 20 minutes earlier
  • Welcome the participants and give instructions
  • Consider what will you do with students suffered from internet interruptions or disconnections 
  • Identify a method of responding to students’ inquiries typed in the chat room (if applicable)
  • Record the sessions for a later use (if possible)

7. Why teaching online should be in segments?

Teaching a one hour lesson in two or three segments is better than in one segment. For example, present some content for 15 minutes then prompt students with questions. After that, proceed on the same way to keep learners on the right learning track. Actually, this approach of e-teaching is popular in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). 

8. Should I teach synchronously or asynchronously?

This depends on your context. However, in general, a mixed approach is suggested.

9. Can I upload films on Moodle?

Moodle has a limited capacity of upload. Therefore, store the films on the Sciebo cloud. Then create a shared link. Finally, insert the link in the related section on Moodle (see here how it works).

10. Do I have to create all the components of my online course by myself?

Not necessarily! If you have an access to Open Educational Resources or any licensed e-materials that you can implement in teaching, save your time and use them.

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