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Teach and Learn Remotely

Out of an abundance of caution and based on public health recommendations and best practices, we will move fully to online and alternative learning for the remainder of the semester. Online and alternative learning launched Monday, March 16, for undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

For Students:

Vanderbilt returned to online/remote classes on Monday, March 16. Assignments and assessment can resume that week. We are asking that faculty be thoughtful about the transition. Faculty are aware of the difficulties many students are facing as they move off-campus or cope with other significant changes in their lives resulting from the current crisis. Faculty too are trying to manage many challenges, and we are asking students to be patient as faculty work to continue to teach.

Zoom

As Vanderbilt transitions to online and alternative education for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, the university has made Zoom online conferencing software available for all students, faculty and staff. Zoom may be used by Vanderbilt faculty and students for participating in classes, video conferencing, web conferencing, virtual meetings and more.

Students can access Zoom by visiting vanderbilt.zoom.us and using their VUNetID and password to sign in. For general Zoom instructions, as well as technical assistance, please visit VUIT’s Zoom webpage.

Brightspace

For support related to Brightspace, visit the resources page for students on Vanderbilt’s Brightspace support website.

Vanderbilt Libraries

You can also visit the Libraries website to see all the ways the libraries are supporting our students with remote resources and services.

The Writing Studio

The Writing Studio is still here to support writers and all of the valuable learning that takes place through the writing process. All Writing Studio appointments will now be held as synchronous online consultations using our WCOnline platform.

Learn more about the Writing Studio’s online services.

For Faculty:

The Office of Faculty Affairs has developed a web portal with resources and tips for online and distance education. Visit the page for updated information on how the university can support you as you transition to online and alternative learning.

Additionally, this blog post from the Center for Teaching provides a template for communications to students regarding your transition to online learning.

Updates

Academics

Vanderbilt launched online/remote classes on Monday, March 16. Assignments and assessment resumed that week. Faculty are aware of the difficulties many students are facing as they move off-campus or cope with other significant changes in their lives resulting from the current crisis. Faculty too are trying to manage many challenges, and we are asking students to be patient as faculty work to continue to teach.

We take great pride in our residential living-learning model, which provides invaluable connections, camaraderie and support. Although this is one of Vanderbilt’s great strengths, we also recognize that these are extraordinary times that require exceptional measures to deal with a health risk that affects us all. Beginning Monday, March 16, the university is suspending all in-person classes and is moving to online and other alternative learning options for the remainder of the semester. Students will hear directly from their respective deans and/or faculty instructor regarding any specific instructions. Again, faculty will communicate with students through their usual methods of communications, such as the course webpage on Brightspace or by email. Starting Monday, March 16th, all coursework will be handled using methods other than in-person, on-campus instruction. Each course and each instructor will make a decision about the appropriate means in light of the nature of the course. Please monitor your Vanderbilt email and your course webpages for details. Students who find themselves with limited internet or computer access during this period of alternative instruction are encouraged to let their dean’s office know so that we can provide support.
The Office of the Provost has developed a Faculty Online and Alternative Education Resources page with information about in-person training sessions and on-demand content. There is also information about Brightspace, creating a recorded video, video conferencing, audio conferencing and additional faculty teaching guides and resources.

Communicating with Students

Are there examples of how to communicate with my students at the beginning of the transition? This blog post from the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching shares an example of introductory emails. Can I use email? Yes. You should use the tools for interaction that are comfortable for you and accessible to your students. Do I have to make videos for my courses? No. Video is one way to present information, but we can also present information through readings and links to other resources, including videos created by others. The most important piece is to make sure you are communicating with your students so that they know you are present and they know what to expect, with a clear message that that plans can evolve. How do I hold office hours?  There are several ways to offer office hours.
  • Zoom: Set up a Zoom meeting that your students can opt into if they want.
  • Virtual classroom: Set up a Virtual Classroom meeting that your students can opt into if they want. Note: Both Zoom and Virtual Classroom are videoconferencing tools that are integrated into Brightspace. Both can work well for this purpose; just pick the one that you are most comfortable with.
  • Chat: Set up a chat room in Brightspace that your students can opt into. If you normally have appointments for office hours, you can continue to do that and to interact in one of the ways above or simply via phone.
Faculty can hold in-person office hours as they usually would. The office meetings can be one-on-one or with a small group of students – again as would usually be scheduled. Faculty should recognize that some students are no longer in Nashville or may feel uncomfortable coming to office hours. In those cases, faculty should provide alternative ways of asking questions, such as phone calls, video conferencing, emails, discussion boards, and so on.

Virtual Tools (including Brightspace, Zoom and Zoom)

How can faculty arrange a conference call? We recommend using one of three options:
  • Zoom (Vanderbilt’s license): The guides here walk you through the steps of using Zoom through Brightspace, from creating an account to setting up and then hosting a meeting from within Brightspace. You can also use Zoom outside of Brightspace by logging in through https://vanderbilt.zoom.us/. Whether you access Zoom via Brightspace, through the Zoom website, or through a Zoom app, you can create, host, and schedule meetings. For more help with Zoom, see VUIT’s page on Zoom.
  • Skype (Vanderbilt’s license): A description of Skype can be found here.
  • Vanderbilt conference call service: Information can be found here.
I previously had an individual Zoom account using my Vanderbilt email. How do I associate my Vanderbilt email with the Vanderbilt Zoom license?
  • 1. Log out of zoom.us if you are currently logged in.
  • 2. Navigate to https://vanderbilt.zoom.us and click Sign In.
  • 3. You will receive an invitation email. Accept the invite when it comes.
  • 4. If you are asked to switch your account, you should do it.
Faculty: Can I set up breakout rooms in Zoom? Yes. This video tells you how. How do I arrange a small group meeting for student projects? All students have full access to Zoom, inside and outside of Brightspace. Therefore, you can set up groups of students in Brightspace, give them information about how to set up Zoom meetings, and tell them to set up their own meeting, inviting you as a participant. This allows students to start the meeting without your presence but also allows you to drop in if needed. Alternatively, you can set up student groups and a discussion within each group.

Timing of Online Courses

Should I hold my class at the same time and try to do a live class? Or should I change the timeline? If you’re going to host a synchronous online class session, you should schedule that session during one of your scheduled class meeting times to prevent conflicts with other class meetings. However, you may find that running synchronous online class sessions isn’t necessary for your course. You could post videos and/or readings for students to engage with asynchronously, and even handle faculty-student and student-student interactions asynchronously through email, discussion boards, blogs or external tools like Flipgrid. If your students have limited bandwidth or are spread out over multiple time zones, asynchronous activities could be particularly useful. If I plan on holding synchronous class meetings, when should they be? They should be during the scheduled class time so that they don’t conflict with other course meetings students have.
No. In-person classes, regardless of size, are suspended for the semester.
The university is further reinforcing its remote work policy in light of the new Safer at Home Order issued by the Nashville Metro Public Health Department on March 22, which went into effect Monday, March 23. Remote teaching on campus is not an absolute necessity and should be conducted off campus. All faculty should work remotely unless provided an exception from their dean or department chair based on the absolute necessity that they be on campus to do their work, such as those responsible for lab safety, care for lab animals, and simulation lab instruction in medicine and nursing. Faculty should have retrieved materials needed to work from home by Monday, March 23.
Accommodations may change as classes move from in-person to remote. The SAS Faculty page has information on remote accommodation implementation as well as information on how to ensure your online content is accessible, including applying extra time for exams. Contact SAS for any questions or concerns at studentaccess@vanderbilt.edu.
Moving labs online is one of the most challenging parts of completing the semester online. This post shares some ideas, emphasizing the importance of thinking through your goals for the course and focusing on the ones—like data analysis, data presentation, etc.—that can be accomplished remotely. Adam List, who leads the Organic Chemistry labs at Vanderbilt, is planning to videotape a graduate student completing experiments, posting the video in short segments that are accompanied by questions. For example, if a student is purifying a product, the video might show an extraction procedure. The accompanying question might ask students which fraction their product would be in. This approach can enable students to approximate the cognitive work of the lab.

Tutoring Services is open and is ready to offer all one-on-one tutoring appointments as well as group learning support opportunities via videoconference. Courses supported include many introductory and intermediate level courses in Biological Sciences, Chemistry (General & Organic), Economics, Mathematics, and Physics. Appointments can be made online by visiting vanderbilt.edu/tutoring.

 Whether you are a first-year student or a senior writing an honors thesis, the Writing Studio is still here to support you via videoconference appointments. Schedule an appointment today by visiting vanderbilt.edu/writing.

No. In countries that censor content, students cannot be confident that they will receive all course content, even with the Vanderbilt VPN.
There are several ways to offer office hours.
  • Zoom: Set up a Zoom meeting that your students can opt into if they want.
  • Virtual classroom: Set up a Virtual Classroom meeting that your students can opt into if they want. Note: Both Zoom and Virtual Classroom are videoconferencing tools that are integrated into Brightspace. Both can work well for this purpose; just pick the one that you are most comfortable with.
  • Chat: Set up a chat room in Brightspace that your students can opt into. If you normally have appointments for office hours, you can continue to do that and to interact in one of the ways above or simply via phone.
Teaching remotely with children at home is one of the challenges many of us will be facing over the coming days and weeks. It might be useful for caregivers to think about how they can maximize asynchronous learning activities, meaning activities that can be created by the instructor at one point in time, and then students can engage with that learning activity afterwards at a different point in time. Here are some examples:
  • Instead of delivering live lectures or demonstrations, consider using a screencasting tool to record ahead of time when the house is quiet, and then add the lecture video to your course for student viewing.
  • Instead of facilitating live discussions, consider asynchronous discussions. Students can post when they are able, and the instructor can review the posts and add to the discussion when they are able.
This blog post explores these and other more ideas for asynchronous tools you can use in your remote teaching. Vanderbilt Child and Family Center has created a webpage that lists care resources and will continue to update it as more options become available.
Consider using asynchronous activities to a significant degree. When thinking about presenting information, consider posting videos or readings with guiding questions for students to engage with in their own time. When considering interactions your students have with you and each other, consider using a discussion board or blog for some of the interactions. Using the announcement tool within Brightspace regularly can help students recognize that you are present and interacting, even if they can’t interact “face-to-face.” For synchronous activities that you schedule, be sure to be flexible for students who can’t attend. Both Zoom and Virtual Classroom allow instructors to record live sessions for later viewing by students, which is sometimes easier than participating live. These tools also allow users to turn off their own video as they participate, which can make it easier for participants on limited bandwidth.

 

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