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Low-Bandwidth Teaching Tools on Brightspace

Posted by on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 in Uncategorized.

by CFT assistant director, Stacey M. Johnson

Video-based tools (like Zoom and Virtual Classroom, the two video conferencing tools available in Brightspace, or Kaltura Media, the video creation and storage tool) can be very useful for recreating the classroom experience in an online format. However, some faculty and students might not have access to the consistent internet connection and high bandwidth that video requires. In this post, we’ll discuss some tools for remote teaching that require less bandwidth than video-based tools and may be easier to access.

What happens when the network is overloaded, students can’t access content from home, or other unexpected events throw a wrench in your plans? Here are some ideas.

Alternatives to Creating Video Lectures

  • Audio lectures. Video is a bandwidth hog. Can you record your lectures using only audio and then provide the slides separately? Kaltura Media can be used to record audio only, as can Audacity, and even your iPhone! If you are providing accompanying slides or a handout to go with the audio lecture, consider labeling them well so you can say, “I’m on slide 4.” or “Look at page 2 of the handout.” as you give your lecture. Students will be able to follow along.
  • Slides with notes. If you are using PowerPoint, Google Slides, or another tool to generate slides for class, can you use the notes section underneath each slide to write out the lecture that would accompany the slide? This can even be emailed to students if you are not using a course management system like Brightspace.
  • Linking to others’ already available video. Is there content on YouTube or a website you trust that provides similar content to what you want to teach? Can you ask students to watch that already available video first by linking to it within your Content area? Then provide written or audio lecture notes that point out important details, add more context, and challenge ideas presented in the video.

Alternatives to Live Video Conferences

  • Synchronous online chat. Brightspace has a basic synchronous chat tool that is very low-bandwidth and easy to use. Check out our guides for setting up a chat here.
  • Asynchronous Discussions. Consider setting up discussion topics for the week and asking students to contribute regularly. You can also check in regularly and interact with students, check in on them, and model good online discussion with your own posts and interactions. 
  • Collaborative documents. If the online interaction is around a text of some sort, you might consider setting up a collaborative document as the site of the interaction. A Google doc or a Box Note is a great way to start, and Google tools can be integrated into your Brightspace course. Students can add text, add comments, suggest changes, all over time or during a set class meeting. We also have the social reading tools Perusall and eComma integrated with Brightspace.

More resources

There are plenty of low-bandwidth and easy-to-use alternatives to video in Brightspace. The best advice for instructors is to take a look at what technologies you are currently using and feel comfortable sharing with students. Then, consider how you can make those technologies useful for your teaching as low-bandwidth alternatives to video. 

Here are another useful resource from the web:


What other low-bandwidth tools are you planning to use to teach remotely? Let us know by leaving a response below. 

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