Academic Continuity
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We will update this page with new communications throughout the semester.


Past Updates

AUGUST 6, 2020

Spare Students the Lecture?

What is the best use of “together time” in a mixed-delivery format? Before this spring, most instructors were used to spending their synchronous time by delivering a lecture to their students in a classroom. With the fall semester approaching, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence Director Martha Diede encourages instructors to consider changing their approach to synchronous meetings for the benefit of in-person and online learners alike.

18 days until classes

“In the mixed-delivery format, faculty can be tempted to use their synchronous time for lecturing,” Diede says. “Then at the end of the class time, they feel exhausted because they’ve been managing the technology, the learners with them and the learners away from them. Or faculty feel exhausted because they’ve put forth a tremendous amount of energy to compensate for the lack of visual cues both from learners’ faces behind masks and from learners’ faces on screens. Making some changes to teaching practice can enhance learning and reduce fatigue.”

In her new post on the Online Success Toolkit, Diede suggests some additional teaching practices to help instructors lecture for learning. Examples include:

  • Take advantage of research on attention. Studies show that even the most motivated students can maintain attention for only 15-20 minutes. Then they need a break to reset.
  • If you use breaks, remind students to move around and not simply to shift attention to other on-screen activities. In class, have learners look away from screens and do something else.
  • Break up a lecture with a quick activity like having learners change their screen names to one word that summarizes their most important concept from the previous 15-20 minutes.

The faculty support team—which comprises representatives from Information Technology Services, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and the Center for Online and Digital Learning—is here to support you at every step from your course planning to your last class of the semester. You can contact help@syr.edu for any questions about teaching or teaching with technology.

For support with instructional design, content production, video recording, customization of your Blackboard course space and more, you can take advantage of our Blackboard Course Transition Services. To request assistance or find out more information, please fill out the Fall Course Development form.

Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

AUGUST 4, 2020

It's Getting Real

With the calendar turning to August and the first students already on campus, the fall semester is only 20 days away. We hope you have been able to enjoy the summer while also planning for the fall semester.

20 days until classes

Please know that the faculty support team, which comprises representatives from Information Technology Services (ITS), the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and the Center for Online and Digital Learning, is here to support you at every step from your course planning to your last class of the semester. You can contact help@syr.edu for any questions about teaching or teaching with technology.

In addition to one-on-one support, here are some resources available to help you prepare for success this fall:

Fall 2020 Course Checklist — After working through this checklist, instructors will have thought through the design for their mixed delivery fall course(s) and aligned their course outcomes with their activities, assignments and assessments.

Resources for Teaching Remotely — ITS has provided this page to help you work and teach remotely.

Classroom Technology Instructions — Watch an overview of the standard instructional classroom technology in our training video.

Blackboard Course Transition Services — Through Syracuse University’s partnership with Blackboard Academic Services, you can request support with instructional design, content production, video recording, customization of your Blackboard course space and more. 

Online Success Toolkit — This collection of resources is designed to promote successful online teaching for new and returning faculty alike.

Web Conferencing Tools — To learn more about the tools available to you, as well as their respective teaching considerations and technical information, read this web conferencing comparison.

Kaltura at Syracuse University — New for this semester, this cloud-based video management system helps instructors store and share video course content to create engaging and accessible learning experiences for their students.

PlayPosit — This tool for adding rich content and dynamic interactions to video is currently configured for instructors to overlay video content hosted in YouTube, Vimeo, Ensemble and Kaltura.

You can learn more about teaching with technology by listening to “Behind the Monitor,”  the official ITS podcast, on Apple Podcasts. The new episode focuses on the recent launch of Kaltura.

Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 30, 2020

Aligning Your Course for a Smooth Transition

Aligning your course can make a big difference for students’ learning and for your experience as an instructor. Using the Fall 2020 Course Checklist, you can ensure that your course outcomes align with your assessments, assignments and activities, just like peas align in a pod.Graphic of a peapod showing alignment among course outcomes, assessments, assignments and activitiesAligned courses:

  • Support students from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Require fewer explanations for why students must complete particular assignments—you can cite specific, pre-established outcomes.
  • Foster an atmosphere that encourages learning.

Another advantage of an aligned course: It can pivot easily from format to format. To reach out for assistance in building your course, we encourage you to complete the Fall Course Development Form, which will help you get started with the Fall Course Transition Services available through Syracuse University’s partnership with Blackboard Academic Services. You can read these frequently asked questions to learn more about the Fall Course Transition Services.

As always, if you have questions about any aspect of teaching and/or teaching with technology, please contact the faculty support team (help@syr.edu). You can learn more about teaching with technology by listening to “Behind the Monitor,” the official ITS podcast, on Apple Podcasts. The new episode focuses on the recent launch of Kaltura at Syracuse University.

Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 28, 2020

Accessible Online Content

As you prepare for the fall semester, it’s important to consider the accessibility of your online content. We have included some tips below.

Accessible Blackboard Content

Syracuse University uses Blackboard Ally to enhance the usability and accessibility of course documents in the Blackboard learning management system. Ally provides students with multiple accessible formats of the original document so they can select the one that fits their unique needs. Currently, Ally offers accessible versions of Portable Document Format (PDF) files, Microsoft Office files (Word and PowerPoint), images and uploaded HTML files. Students will see a dropdown menu to the right of each document. From this dropdown menu, they can select one or more accessible versions to download and use.

Captioning Online Synchronous and Asynchronous Content

Syracuse University offers both Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom for online synchronous course meetings, whether from a University facility or off-campus location. Both web-conferencing services enable students to log in from their Blackboard course and also offer the option to have live-captioning functionality as required by the Center for Disability Resources.

Syracuse University recently adopted Kaltura, which also is integrated with Blackboard, for video creation and hosting in support of teaching and learning. Both Zoom and Kaltura include post-recording automatic speech recognition captioning for content, which not only helps to improve comprehension but also allows the individual to remediate text errors before making the pre-recorded content available. Also, the automatic captioning in Kaltura makes it possible to ask all students to add and then remediate the captions of their videos. A captioned video could be a requirement of their video submissions. 

To learn more about creating inclusive online content, visit our Accessible Technology Toolkit on Answers and Blackboard’s free Accessibility Checklist.

If you have questions about teaching and/or teaching with technology—including Fall Course Transition Services—you can contact the faculty support team (help@syr.edu). For more tech tips and tricks, follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 23, 2020

Trending Topics for Fall Semester Preparation

In recent weeks, we have shared information about a number of new resources and opportunities available to instructors to strengthen their online teaching. Here is a quick summary of tools you can use to make the most of the time remaining before classes begin on Aug. 24.

Kaltura

Kaltura at Syracuse University is a cloud-based video management system that helps instructors to create and share engaging learning experiences for their students. Although Ensemble will continue to be available through the Fall 2020 semester, any new content should be created in Kaltura.

Kaltura:

  • enables instructors and students to create video content through Blackboard;
  • provides instructors the ability to edit and combine videos while making them more interactive; and
  • empowers instructors and students to use webcams and mobile devices to create content.

You can access Kaltura by logging in to Blackboard or video.syr.edu. You also can choose to use the Kaltura mobile app. We encourage you to register for online training sessions.

Fall Course Transition Services

Fall Course Transition Services are available until Aug. 3 through Syracuse University’s partnership with Blackboard. To preview the Syracuse University-specific Fall 2020 Blackboard course template, email help@syr.edu with either Course Name: Syracuse University Course Template—Fall 2020 or Course ID: sutemplate.fall2020 in the subject line. Remember: You don’t need to have a semester’s worth of content ready—only the course alignment (from syllabus through assessments, assignments and activities) and the first two weeks of materials. Once you finalize your syllabus and prepare your initial content, contact Blackboard Transition Services using the Course Is Ready for Transition Form.

Online Success Toolkit

The Online Success Toolkit also is available to support online teaching and learning. Available materials for faculty include course preparation guides, resources for supporting students and information regarding upcoming training and consultation opportunities. We will continue to update the toolkit throughout the summer and during the semester as appropriate.

As always, if you have questions about teaching with technology, you can contact the faculty support team (help@syr.edu). For more tech tips and tricks, follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 21, 2020

There Is Still Time to Sign Up for Fall Course Transition Services

With the semester a month away, we encourage you to take advantage of the Fall Course Transition Services available until Aug. 3 through Syracuse University’s partnership with Blackboard. As a refresher:

  • We have created a Syracuse University-specific Fall 2020 Blackboard course template for your convenience. To preview the course template and decide whether to apply it to your specific course, email help@syr.edu with either Course Name: Syracuse University Course Template—Fall 2020 or Course ID: sutemplate.fall2020 in the subject line.
  • You don’t need to have a semester’s worth of content ready—only the course alignment (from syllabus through assessments, assignments and activities) and the first two weeks of materials. Once you have finalized your syllabus and prepared your initial content, contact Blackboard Transition Services using the Course Is Ready for Transition Form.
  • If you have questions or if you aren’t sure where to begin, you can contact the faculty support team (help@syr.edu).

The Online Success Toolkit also is available to support online teaching and learning. Available materials for faculty include course preparation guides, resources for supporting students and information regarding upcoming training and consultation opportunities. For more tech tips and tricks, follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 16, 2020

Kaltura Is Available

We are excited to announce that Kaltura at Syracuse University is now available. This cloud-based video management system will help instructors store and share video course content to create engaging and accessible learning experiences for their students.

Kaltura:

  • enables instructors and students to create video content through Blackboard;
  • provides instructors the ability to edit and combine videos while making them more interactive; and
  • empowers instructors and students to use webcams and mobile devices to create content.

In the coming months, instructors also will be able to take advantage of Kaltura’s lecture capture ability.

We have prepared some FAQs to address questions you might have.

How do I access Kaltura?
You can access Kaltura by logging in to blackboard.syracuse.edu or video.syr.edu. You also can choose to use the Kaltura mobile app. Please note that any videos created in Kaltura must follow Syracuse University’s Information Technology Resources Acceptable Use Policy.

Is training available?
Yes. You can register for online training sessions. These sessions will prepare instructors to teach with Kaltura during the Fall 2020 semester with a focus on how to create, upload and deploy instructional videos in Blackboard.

Does Kaltura replace Ensemble?
Yes. As of July 15, 2020, Kaltura is the University’s official video repository tool. Although Ensemble will continue to be available through the Fall 2020 semester, any new content should be created in Kaltura.

Will I be able to move my Ensemble content to Kaltura?
Yes. We are developing a process to migrate existing content from Ensemble to Kaltura. We will share more details about this process soon.

Does Kaltura work with Blackboard?
Yes. Additional Kaltura functionality is available within Blackboard courses to promote teaching and learning. For instructions, tutorials and how-to documentation related to Kaltura in Blackboard, please refer to the Kaltura in Blackboard support page. 

How can I learn more about Kaltura?
We encourage all instructors to explore the Kaltura at Syracuse University home page on Answers.

If you have questions about Kaltura, our Fall 2020 Course Transition Services or any other aspect of preparing for the fall semester, you can contact the faculty support team (help@syr.edu). Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 14, 2020

Focus on What You Can Control

In challenging times, it’s helpful to distinguish what you can control from what you can’t. In terms of preparing for the fall semester, you can control your curiosity about technology, how you organize your course and how you transition it online.

Exploring Technology with Answers

Available to all faculty, students and staff, Answers is Syracuse University’s knowledge base of technical self-help information. The website’s content focuses on campuswide and school- or college-specific systems and technical services, including how-to instructions, FAQs and more. In addition to the Online Success Toolkit, the Information Technology Support home page is a good place to start exploring. Answers is always evolving to meet the needs of our community, so be sure to check back periodically for updates. Even better, you can configure your Answers profile to get a daily digest of changes. To do so:

  • Log in to Answers.syr.edu using your NetID and password if you haven’t already.
  • View your email settings.
  • Click the “Edit” button and then select “Subscribe to daily updates.”
  • Click the “Submit” button.

Organizing Your Course

The good news for your fall courses is that you don’t have to start from scratch. You can take advantage of the Syracuse University-specific Fall 2020 Blackboard course shell. To preview the course shell and decide whether to apply it to your specific course, email help@syr.edu with either Course Name: Syracuse University Course Template – Fall 2020 or Course ID: sutemplate.fall2020 in the subject line.

Transitioning Your Course Online

Once you have developed a clear vision and materials for your course, we recommend working with Blackboard Academic Services as part of our Fall Course Transition Services to build out the first two weeks of your course, which will ease you into the mixed delivery format. Blackboard Academic Services will show you how to upload content, create assignments, build assessments and more. Using this approach, you don’t need to have a semester of content ready—only the course alignment (from syllabus through assessments, assignments and activities) and the first two weeks of materials. Once you have finalized your syllabus and prepared your initial content, contact Blackboard Transition Services using the Course Is Ready for Transition Form.

If you have questions, you can contact the faculty support team (help@syr.edu). You can learn more about how ITS is helping faculty prepare for the fall semester by listening to the new episode of “Behind the Monitor,” the official ITS podcast. For more tech tips and tricks, follow us on Instagram.

Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 9, 2020

Four Steps to Jump-Starting Your Fall Course Transition

With the start of the fall semester less than seven weeks away, we wanted to share four steps to getting started with the Fall Course Transition Services available through Syracuse University’s partnership with Blackboard:

  1. Contact help@syr.edu to preview the Fall 2020 Blackboard course shell and decide whether to apply it to your specific course.
  2. Finalize your syllabus.
  3. Prepare your first two weeks of content.
  4. When you’re ready, contact Blackboard Transition Services using the Course Is Ready for Transition Form.

Your content will be uploaded and populated to your course. All of your content belongs to you.

As a reminder, we strongly encourage all instructors to utilize the Fall Course Transition Services. If you have questions about your course, you can contact the faculty support team (help@syr.edu).

Information Technology Services also has partnered with the Center for Online and Digital Learning, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and the Office of Online Student Success to create the Online Success Toolkit. The Online Success Toolkit provides a central hub to promote successful online teaching and learning for new and returning faculty and students alike. 

Available materials for faculty include course preparation guides, resources for supporting students and information regarding upcoming training and consultation opportunities. We will continue to update and enhance this resource throughout the summer and during the semester.

Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JULY 7, 2020

Aligning Your Course for Success in Any Format

Using the Fall 2020 Course Checklist, faculty can ensure that their course outcomes align with their assessments, assignments and activities. Aligned courses:

  • Support students from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Require fewer explanations for why students must complete particular assignments—faculty can cite specific, pre-established outcomes.
  • Foster an atmosphere that encourages learning.

Another advantage of an aligned course: It can pivot easily from format to format. If you have developed a clear vision and materials for your course, we recommend working with Blackboard Academic Services as part of our Fall Course Transition Services to build out the first two weeks of your course, which will ease you into the mixed delivery format. Blackboard Academic Services will show you how to upload content, create assignments, build assessments and more.

Using this approach, you don’t need to have a semester of content ready—only the course alignment and the first two weeks of materials. If you have questions about your course alignment, you can work with the faculty support team (help@syr.edu).

We strongly encourage instructors to utilize the Fall Course Transition Services. To request assistance or to find out more information, please fill out the Fall Course Development Form.

You can learn more about how ITS is helping faculty prepare for the fall semester by listening to the new episode of Behind the Monitor, the official ITS podcast. Please also remember these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JUNE 30, 2020

The Fall Course Transition Process

We thank all of the faculty members who already have begun the Fall Course Transition Services process, beginning with the brief Fall Course Development Form. Regardless of the subject matter, all courses will need to run in face-to-face, mixed delivery and full online formats.

The course transition process includes three steps:

  • Design and upload materials.
  • Review course with Blackboard Academic Services personnel.
  • Deliver completed course.

To learn more, you can watch this webinar, which provides an overview of the entire process.

The faculty support team (help@syr.edu) is available to answer questions related to your fall semester planning. Please also take advantage of these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JUNE 25, 2020

Envisioning Your Fall Courses

It can be a challenge to picture what fall courses will look like given the need to prepare for in-person, mixed delivery and fully online formats. With this in mind, we have put together an example of what your course might look like in Blackboard after you take advantage of Fall Course Transition Services.

You can complete the brief Fall Course Development Form to get started if you haven’t already. Investing time now will lead to better results during the semester.

The faculty support team (help@syr.edu) is available to answer questions related to your fall semester planning. Please also take advantage of these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JUNE 23, 2020

Fall Course Preparation

We strongly encourage all faculty teaching this fall to utilize the University’s suite of Fall Course Transition Services. Regardless of the type of course you are teaching, your course will need to run in face-to-face, mixed delivery and full online formats. Complete the brief Fall Course Development Form to get started.

The faculty support team (help@syr.edu) is available to answer questions related to your fall semester planning. Please also take advantage of these online coaching and consultation opportunities: 

We look forward to working with you.

JUNE 18, 2020

Approaches to Course Design

The fall semester presents the opportunity to rethink your approach to instruction—both in person and online. As you prepare your courses, please consider how hybrid, hy-flex and flipped approaches to course design could strengthen your teaching and students’ learning.

Hybrid course design moves students through the course together. They are all online at the same time and all face-to-face at the same time. The course meets at a pre-established time throughout the semester. Students who are online attend sessions synchronously with those students who are in the classroom. Instructors might also ask students to participate in groups or teams for learning, incorporating online students into face-to-face interactive groups. 

In another version of hybrid course design, the class might meet one day in person and another day online. Sometimes hybrid courses have half the class meet in person while the other half engages in online activities.

Hy-flex course design involves teaching a course using face-to-face and online delivery methods at the same time. This flexible option allows students to determine whether to be in-person or online. Students cannot progress from beginning to end in the course without demonstrating that they have acquired skills and knowledge deemed essential to proceeding. Still, a student could proceed through the course while only engaging the instructor and their classmates asynchronously. With this in mind, instructors must have fully developed face-to-face and online course designs for both delivery methods. We have provided a sample 50-minute class session and a sample 75-minute class session using hy-flex course design.

In a flipped classroom, the instructor produces lecture content broken into 10-minute segments for students to preview online. The students view the content and complete activities or self-quizzes between each segment. Students then attend class in person, practicing the use of the skill or information presented in the pre-class lecture.

To help you navigate this evolving instructional landscape, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence is excited to present Working Through and Toward Pedagogical Partnership in Remote Teaching and Learning, an online workshop with Alison Cook-Sather offered in three sessions from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday, June 24; Thursday, June 25; and Tuesday, June 30. Cook-Sather is the Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education at Bryn Mawr College and Director of the Teaching and Learning Institute at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. Over the course of the three sessions, you will move from theory to planning to practice with a focus on studio and lab experiences. 

Faculty Support and Consultation Opportunities

The faculty support team (help@syr.edu) is available to answer questions related to course design or any other component of your fall semester planning. Faculty seeking assistance with online course development are encouraged to fill out the Fall Course Development Form to request support or to submit questions about specific aspects of online instruction and preparation. We have created a Fall 2020 Course Checklist to guide your planning.

Please also remember the coaching and consultation opportunities available to you: 

We look forward to working with you. Go Orange!

JUNE 16, 2020

Kaltura Video Cloud for Education

The campus IT community works to ensure faculty have the best technology at their disposal to create outstanding learning opportunities for their students. With this goal in mind, we are rolling out the Kaltura Video Cloud for Education for the fall semester.

Kaltura is a cloud-based video management system that helps you store and share video course content online. Video drives student engagement, interactive learning experiences and better learning outcomes. Kaltura includes a range of products designed to create engaging and accessible experiences.

Kaltura will launch officially on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The initial deployment will include the Kaltura MediaSpace Video PortalKaltura LMS Video Plugins for Blackboard and Personal Video Capture. As more phases of Kaltura are deployed, you will be able to migrate your existing videos from Ensemble to the Kaltura MediaSpace and take advantage of Kaltura Lecture Capture

Please note you can continue to use Ensemble for the fall semester. You also can augment your existing courses with Kaltura. If you are at the beginning stages of using a video tool to create asynchronous content, we recommend waiting until the Kaltura launch on July 15 so you don’t need to learn two tools.

The faculty support team (help@syr.edu) is available to answer questions related to Kaltura or any other component of your fall semester planning. Faculty seeking assistance with online course development are encouraged to fill out the Fall Course Development Form to request support or to submit questions about specific aspects of online instruction and preparation.

Please also remember the online coaching and consultation opportunities available to you: 

We look forward to working with you. Go Orange!

JUNE 11, 2020

Over the last few weeks, we have shared information about a number of opportunities to engage with IT professionals and your fellow faculty members in preparation for the fall semester. We also recognize that we are not the only email in your inbox. With this in mind, we have compiled a brief overview to help you decide which training and consultation opportunities are right for you.

Teaching and Technology Zoom Series — Tuesdays at noon ET

A partnership between the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and Information Technology Services, this weekly lunch-and-learn Zoom series will help faculty prepare for the fall semester. These hour-long sessions will take place each Tuesday at noon ET from June 16 to Aug. 25. The first session will focus on reviewing your course to determine what you might need to change. You can register online.

Overview of Fall 2020 Course Transition Services — Tuesdays at 6 p.m. ET

Join representatives from Syracuse University and Blackboard for a guided presentation to learn about the services available to move your course materials online for Fall 2020. The Blackboard Academic Services team will review the course transition process and timeline. When you’re ready for the next step, we encourage you to fill out the Fall Course Development Form to request support or to submit questions about specific aspects of online instruction and preparation.

Fall 2020 Course Development: Open Q & A — Thursdays at 10 a.m. ET

This open-format session allows you to ask questions about the Blackboard process once you sign up for the course design services. Syracuse University staff also will be available to address any questions regarding technical services beyond Blackboard and any other needs you might have in preparation for the semester.

In addition to these group discussions, the faculty support team (help@syr.edu) provides one-to-one coaching and consultation. This group comprises representatives from the Center for Online and Digital Learning, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and Information Technology Services. Whether you have technical or pedagogical questions, the most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific needs.

Please also note that fall classes have been populated in Blackboard. You can log in to Blackboard to access your courses. To request the Fall 2020 course template from the faculty support team, please email help@syr.edu.

Our job is to help you make the best possible use of technology in your teaching. We are here for you. Thank you for the time and energy you devote to your work and to your students.

JUNE 9, 2020

In addition to the campuswide resources described below, please know that your school or college IT personnel are available for year-round support. We maintain a list of school and college IT contact information and Answers documentation for your reference.

The faculty support team (help@syr.edu) also stands ready to help you conduct your summer courses or prepare for the fall semester. This group comprises representatives from the Center for Online and Digital Learning (CODL), the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) and Information Technology Services (ITS).

Across campus and within your school or college, IT professionals are here to help you.

Today’s topics:

  • New Lunch-and-Learn Zoom Series with CTLE and ITS
  • Faculty Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Workshops
  • Alternatives to Traditional Exams
  • Classroom Technology Instructions
  • Reminder: Course Transition Services

New Lunch-and-Learn Zoom Series with CTLE and ITS

We are excited to introduce a weekly lunch-and-learn Zoom series to help faculty prepare for the fall semester. These hour-long sessions will take place each Tuesday at noon ET from June 16 to Aug. 25. The first session will focus on reviewing your course to determine what you might need to change. You can register online.

Faculty Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Workshops

The Faculty Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility workshop series is designed to heighten awareness of diversity, equity, inclusion and access as they relate to the college classroom. Workshop topics include identifying and reducing implicit bias in pedagogical decision-making and establishing civility and a positive climate in your teaching environment.

Alternatives to Traditional Exams

Rather than planning on large exams for your fall courses, we suggest creating smaller, low-stakes assessments. These assessments give students the opportunity to demonstrate what they know and give faculty the opportunity to assess gaps in students’ knowledge and skill acquisition. Read more about alternatives to exams.

Classroom Technology Instructions

ITS maintains detailed information about technology in registrar classrooms across campus. Watch this overview of standard instructional classroom technology.

Reminder: Course Transition Services

In addition to resources provided by our faculty support team, Syracuse University has partnered with Blackboard Academic Services to provide fall course transition services to faculty throughout the summer. We encourage you to fill out the Fall Course Development Form to request support or to submit questions about specific aspects of online instruction and preparation. We have provided some frequently asked questions and relevant links for your reference. You also can attend virtual office hours every Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET and every Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

JUNE 4, 2020

We continue to add resources to help you prepare for the fall semester. Just as important, we are available to answer your questions as you determine your goals for your courses. Whether you have technical or pedagogical questions, you can reach our faculty support team at help@syr.edu. This team comprises staff from Information Technology Services, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, and the Center for Online and Digital Learning. We are working together to help you succeed.

To learn more about the additional resources for fall course transition, you can join us for office hours every Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET and every Thursday at 10 a.m.

Today’s topics:

  • Reminder: Course transition services
  • Faculty conversation blog
  • Classroom technology guide
  • Lights, camera, action: Recording from home

Reminder: Course Transition Services

In addition to resources provided by our faculty support team, Syracuse University has partnered with Blackboard Academic Services to provide fall course transition services to faculty throughout the summer. We encourage you to fill out the Fall Course Development Form to request support or to submit questions about specific aspects of online instruction and preparation. We also have provided some frequently asked questions and relevant links for your reference.

Faculty Conversation Blog

Would you like to connect with your fellow faculty members to discuss approaches to teaching and learning? We have created a blog on Answers to facilitate conversations about topics of interest to our faculty (you will need to log in with your NetID and password). To get started, you can join this conversation about questions regarding the upcoming semester.

Classroom Technology Guide

ITS maintains detailed information about technology in registrar classrooms across campus. From Bowne to Watson, you can learn about the resources available in each space. Individual training sessions also are available for faculty and staff who need further assistance with learning to operate classroom computers.

Lights, Camera, Action: Recording from Home

Not every video requires Hollywood-level production. If you have a phone or tablet that can record video, you have everything you need to create videos for your course. Check out these tips for home recording.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

JUNE 2, 2020

In addition to resources provided by Information Technology Services, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Syracuse University has partnered with Blackboard Academic Services to provide fall course transition services to faculty throughout the summer. We encourage you to fill out the Fall Course Development Form to request support or to submit questions about specific aspects of online instruction and preparation. We also have provided some frequently asked questions and relevant links for your reference. We look forward to working with you!

Today’s topics:

  • Ongoing course transition webinar series
  • Essential principles of course design
  • The language of online learning: Hybrid vs. hy-flex
  • Research computing resources

Ongoing Course Transition Webinar Series

Thank you to those who joined us for last week’s course transition services kickoff with Blackboard. If you missed last week’s discussion but would like to learn more, you can join us every Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET and every Thursday at 10 a.m. ET to learn about your options for creating course content and how you can get assistance transitioning your course online. During this webinar, we will discuss best practices for:

  • Developing and uploading your curriculum.
  • Submitting content to the instructional design team.
  • Reviewing course design prior to course launch.
  • Course design and delivery.

We also will allow time to answer your questions. We hope to see you there!

Session Information

Guest: https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/ef94333338094644acd102a03d449597 
Anonymous dial-in: 571.392.7650 PIN: 837 207 1471

Essential Principles of Course Design

Whether teaching in-person, online or using some combination of the two, you can design great courses by following five essential principles:

  • Alignment: The course objectives, assessments and assignments should align, much like peas align in a pod. Review the Summer Online Course Checklist to learn more.
  • Transparency: Evidence shows that making assignments transparent can positively impact students’ course performance and remove barriers to student success. Enroll in the Transparent Teaching for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access organization in Blackboard for more on this topic.
  • Student-focused: In student-focused learning, the focus is on how students learn best. The instructor is a guide or mentor, not a lecturer, sage or speaker. Student-centered learning ensures that students practice skills and reflect on new knowledge to encode it for use later.
  • Predictable: Predictable learning puts similar learning activities at similar times in a face-to-face course and in similar locations in an online course. If the class commences with a question, every class commences with a question. If the course module includes a discussion, that discussion always appears in the same place. This practice increases student mental bandwidth for learning as it frees students from having to respond to new stimuli in each class.
  • Scaffolded: Scaffolding refers to external supports provided by an instructor and adjusted to a learner’s current level of ability to help the learner develop a particular skill. We discuss scaffolding in the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit.

The Language of Online Learning: Hybrid vs. Hy-Flex

As you continue to explore online teaching and learning, you might encounter terms with which you’re unfamiliar. For example, what is the difference between a hybrid course design and a hy-flex course design? Learn more about these course design options as you plan for the fall semester.

Research Computing Resources

Research computing at Syracuse University is a collaborative effort among the research community and technology groups from across campus. Available resources include high throughput computing, virtual private cloud computing and GPU-based computing. To learn more, visit researchcomputing.syr.edu or email researchcomputing@syr.edu.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

MAY 28, 2020

As we prepare for the fall semester, we are excited to offer coordinated course preparation support through a partnership among Information Technology Services, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, and Blackboard. We outline the scope and process for taking advantage of these services below. As always, you can contact help@syr.edu with any questions. We look forward to working with you.

Course Transition Services

Through course transition services, instructional designers will support faculty in moving their face-to-face course content into a templated Blackboard course shell that strengthens remote teaching and learning. The instructional designer:

  • Assists faculty with uploading all course content, weekly assignments and assessments using best practices for content access.
  • Hosts weekly office hours designed to walk you through the transition development process and to provide strategies for delivering remote teaching and learning.
  • Outlines the design process, procedures, communication protocols, content file naming conventions, course planning tools and curriculum types that can be added to each course.

Learn more about course transition services.

Opting In: Transitioning Your Course

We are offering course transition services on an opt-in basis. After you have reviewed the process and you decide to participate, the first step is to complete a short form to tell us a little about your course. Get started.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

MAY 26, 2020

Last week, Syracuse University announced plans to follow an accelerated academic calendar during the Fall 2020 semester. As you work to incorporate online learning into your teaching plans, please remember that instructional design support and faculty coaching are available. If you would like a consultation or coaching, contact the faculty support team athelp@syr.edu. This team includes representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and the Online Learning Services team within Information Technology Services. The most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific question(s).

Today’s topics:

  • Course design in Blackboard 
  • How to build a course scaffold 
  • Compassion fatigue 

Course Design in Blackboard

Do you know the difference between items and files in Blackboard? Have you customized your course’s menu and website? As you evaluate how to strengthen your online teaching capabilities, here are some tips and tricks to enhance your Blackboard courses.

How to Build a Course Scaffold

“Scaffolding” refers to supports provided by an instructor and adjusted to a learner’s current level of ability to help the learner develop a particular skill. There is a rich scientific literature on instructional scaffolding, both in person and online. We have provided some examples of useful strategies to get you started.

Compassion Fatigue

Remember: You have to take care of yourself in order to support your students. As you support your students during trying times, you might experience compassion fatigue. Learn how self-care can help.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

MAY 21, 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Zoom for the 2020 Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning yesterday. More than 200 faculty members from across campus took advantage of the opportunity to learn how to incorporate technology in their teaching. Just as important, attendees shared their experiences, discussed challenges and suggested solutions. We are proud to serve such a dedicated and talented community of educators.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Reminder: Developing online courses 
  • Creating accessible and inclusive online content 
  • Academic integrity in an online environment 

Reminder: Developing Online Courses

Faculty who are teaching or preparing to teach a course online are encouraged to utilize the online Academic Continuity Resources. Instructional design support and faculty coaching also are available. If you would like a consultation or coaching, contact the faculty support team at help@syr.edu. This team includes representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and Information Technology Services. The most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific question(s).

Self-service resources available include:

  • new checklist from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Guided by the goal of long-term retention, the checklist includes course objectives, assessments, assignments and weekly modules to maximize online learning during the condensed summer semester.
  • A Blackboard summer course template from the Center for Online and Digital Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Applying the template to your course will save you time and energy. Please follow these instructions to search for the “Summer 2020 Example Course Template” Blackboard Organization and enroll. Once inside, you’ll see announcements with more information and instructions on how to apply it to your course.
  • Scaffolding tips to help you build your assignments. This method also works well for courses as a whole.
  • Ideas for creating a sense of community in the online classroom.

Creating Accessible and Inclusive Online Content

Did you know that today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day? To help you create inclusive online content, visit our Accessible Technology Toolkit on Answers and Blackboard’s free Accessibility Checklist. With the shift to online instruction, delivering content that is inclusively designed and accessible is essential. Blackboard Ally is included in our learning management system and enables us to build a more inclusive online learning environment.

Academic Integrity in an Online Environment

Transitioning a face-to-face course to an online environment is challenging, especially when exams and quizzes are involved. Tests designed for traditional classrooms might not work well online, particularly when it comes to academic integrity. Given these differences between online and face-to-face learning, you might consider changing your course assessment instruments.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

MAY 19, 2020

With warmer temperatures finally arriving in Syracuse, we hope you’ve had some opportunities to enjoy the outdoors (whether in Syracuse or elsewhere).

If you are teaching your first online course as part of the summer session, please visit our archive of previous messages. We will continue to provide tips, updates and guidance to all faculty throughout the summer. Whatever your comfort level and experience might be, we are here to help.

Today’s topics:

  • Reminder: SITETL 2020 is tomorrow
  • Trauma-informed teaching practices
  • Summer course checklist
  • Spotlight: PlayPosit
  • Recording video at home

Reminder: SITETL 2020 Is Tomorrow

The Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning (SITETL) is moving online this year and is open to all Syracuse University faculty members, instructors and teaching graduate students. The event will take place tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. SITETL will consist of two sessions: one general session in the morning for all participants and an afternoon session with four tracks focused on different topics. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Morrison at memorr02@syr.edu.

Trauma-Informed Teaching Practices

Trauma-informed teaching practices are especially important now, as students might have experienced a variety of traumas as part of the COVID-19 pandemic. These new traumas could be in addition to traumas experienced earlier in their lives. Faculty also might experience trauma either directly or as compassion fatigue. As you begin building courses for the fall or operating courses during the summer, trauma-informed practices could offer some positive ways forward for you and your students.

Summer Course Checklist

For faculty members teaching or planning their summer courses, a new checklist is available from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Guided by the goal of long-term retention, the checklist includes course objectives, assessments, assignments and weekly modules to maximize online learning during the condensed summer semester.

Spotlight: PlayPosit

A new tool available to Syracuse University faculty, staff and students, PlayPosit is an interactive online video tool that allows learners to explore new material at their own pace, increasing long-term retention and learning efficacy over standard video. Learn how you can enrich your video content with a variety of interactions, including multiple-choice questions and fill-in-the-blanks.

Recording Video at Home

When choosing video as a means to communicate, it is important to understand the different approaches that are available to you. This will allow you to select the most effective option to communicate your content. Each video also should have an objective. What is the point of the video? What will students learn? Read more about recording video content for your course.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications, you also can follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

MAY 14, 2020

We hope your week is going well. While each instructor faces a different set of circumstances this summer, we will strive to provide information that helps you leverage technology to strengthen the courses you teach and the research you conduct. As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. We are here to help.

Today’s topics:

  • Online course transition survey
  • Re-imagining hands-on courses online
  • Setting expectations for students
  • ITS accessibility workshops

Online Course Transition Survey

The Office of Academic Affairs invites faculty who taught one or more courses that transitioned online after Spring Break to share their perspectives and experiences via the Online Course Transition Survey. If you have not responded yet, please check for an email from Chris Johnson and LaVonda Reed that includes a Qualtrics link to the survey. Another survey was sent to all students taking at least one face-to-face course this semester. Together, these surveys will provide useful information for planning in academic operations.

Re-Imagining Hands-On Courses Online

As recently discussed by Inside Higher Ed, it is a challenge to modify hands-on courses for the online environment. Comprising staff from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and Information Technology Services, our faculty support team can help you develop ways to implement hands-on courses. Contact help@syr.edu for assistance.

Setting Expectations for Students

To help your students succeed in any course, it’s important to explain your course expectations, rubrics and policies from the outset. For example, if there will be required synchronous components, provide the dates and times for those as soon as possible. Also be sure to explain why those particular components need to happen synchronously and what effect missing a synchronous component would have on a student’s grade. Learn more about creating a community in your online course.

ITS Accessibility Workshops

ITS accessibility workshops help you understand technology accessibility, put it into practice and support the University’s efforts to create a more accessible, inclusive campus. You can view recordings of past sessions on Answers.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University. Go Orange!

MAY 12, 2020

Whether you are teaching a summer course or preparing for the fall semester (or both), we will continue to provide updates and tips to help you create the best learning opportunities possible. Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter.

Today’s topics:

  • Spotlight: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
  • Teaching writing-intensive courses online
  • Developing online course material
  • Reminder: Register for SITETL 2020
  • LinkedIn Learning available to all faculty

Spotlight: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a real-time video conferencing tool that lets you add files, share applications and use a virtual whiteboard to interact with your students. Take a deep dive into making the most of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra in your courses.

Teaching Writing-Intensive Courses Online

One way to approach a writing-intensive course online is to focus on the writing process (as opposed to finished products) by assigning multiple drafts and peer editing exercises for each paper. You can do this by assigning students to editing groups from the beginning of the course and grading the process of writing along the way. Learn more about engaging students in the process of creating and editing academic writing.

Developing Online Course Material

Faculty who are preparing to teach a summer course online are encouraged to utilize the online Academic Continuity Resources. Instructional design support and faculty coaching also are available. If you would like a consultation or coaching, contact the faculty support team at help@syr.edu. This team includes representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and Information Technology Services. The most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific question(s).

Self-service resources available include:

  • new checklist from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Guided by the goal of long-term retention, the checklist includes course objectives, assessments, assignments and weekly modules to maximize online learning during the condensed summer semester.
  • A Blackboard summer course template from the Center for Online and Digital Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Applying the template to your course will save you time and energy. Please follow these instructions to search for the “Summer 2020 Example Course Template” Blackboard Organization and enroll. Once inside, you’ll see announcements with more information and instructions on how to apply it to your course.
  • Scaffolding tips to help you build your assignments. This method also works well for courses as a whole.
  • Ideas for creating a sense of community in the online classroom. 

Reminder: Register for SITETL 2020

The Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning (SITETL) is moving online this year and is open to all Syracuse University faculty members, instructors and teaching graduate students. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. SITETL will consist of two sessions: one general session in the morning for all participants and an afternoon session with four tracks focused on different topics. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Morrison at memorr02@syr.edu.

LinkedIn Learning Available to All Faculty

Are you looking for some professional development opportunities this summer? LinkedIn Learning provides access to thousands of high-quality, on-demand courses. You can log into linkedinlearning.syr.edu with your NetID and password. More information, including a full user’s guide, can be found on the LinkedIn Learning at Syracuse University home page.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

Go Orange!

MAY 7, 2020

As the spring semester draws to a close, we will continue to provide information for faculty with summer courses, as well as for instructors considering how to incorporate technology into their fall semester planning. Our goal is to help you leverage technology and best teaching practices to strengthen your courses and your research.

Please feel free to send us your questions or suggestions for future topics. Our faculty support team also is available at help@syr.edu to assist you as you plan for summer or fall.

Today’s topics:

  • The language of online learning: ‘Template’
  • Answers: Syracuse University’s knowledge base
  • Developing your summer course
  • Register for SITETL 2020
  • Research computing resources

The Language of Online Learning: ‘Template’

As faculty continue to explore online teaching and learning, they might encounter terms with which they’re unfamiliar. For example, a “template” is a set of materials that can be pre-populated into Blackboard before a faculty member adds any specific content to the course. A recommended best practice, templates provide locations for materials that are the same across courses. Templates free up mental bandwidth for both you and your students by keeping materials in the same location as you and your students move from course to course.

Answers: Syracuse University’s Knowledge Base

Available to all faculty, students and staff, Answers is a knowledge base of technical self-help information. The website’s content focuses on Syracuse University systems and technical services, including solutions to common problems, how-to instructions, FAQs and more. 

Developing Your Summer Course

Faculty who are preparing to teach a summer course online are encouraged to utilize the online Academic Continuity Resources. Instructional design support and faculty coaching also are available. If you would like a consultation or coaching, contact the faculty support team at help@syr.edu. This team includes representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and Information Technology Services. The most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific question(s).

Self-service resources available include:

  • new checklist from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Guided by the goal of long-term retention, the checklist includes course objectives, assessments, assignments and weekly modules to maximize online learning during the condensed summer semester.
  • A Blackboard summer course template from the Center for Online and Digital Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Applying the template to your course will save you time and energy for the work that only you can do—creating learning opportunities for your students. Please follow these instructions to search for the “Summer 2020 Example Course Template” Blackboard Organization and enroll. Once inside, you’ll see announcements with more information and instructions on how to apply it to your course.
  • Scaffolding tips to help you build your assignments. This method also works well for courses as a whole.
  • Ideas for creating a sense of community in the online classroom. 

Register for SITETL 2020

The Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning (SITETL) is moving online this year and is open to all Syracuse University faculty members, instructors and teaching graduate students. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. SITETL will consist of two sessions: one general session in the morning for all participants and an afternoon session with four tracks focused on different topics. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Morrison at memorr02@syr.edu.

Research Computing Resources

Research computing at Syracuse University is a collaborative effort among the research community and technology groups from across campus. Available resources include high throughput computing, virtual private cloud computing and GPU-based computing. To learn more, visit researchcomputing.syr.edu or email researchcomputing@syr.edu.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

MAY 5, 2020

Thank you so much for taking the time to read these emails throughout the semester. While we all would have preferred to be on campus, we hope that you have felt supported wherever the semester has taken you.

Today’s topics:

  • Resources for summer course development
  • Advisory: Extortion email scam
  • Reminder: SITETL 2020 is moving online
  • ‘Behind the Monitor’ from ITS: Creating engaging videos

Resources for Summer Course Development

Faculty who are preparing to teach a summer course online are encouraged to utilize the online Academic Continuity Resources. Instructional design support and faculty coaching also are available. If you would like a consultation or coaching, contact the faculty support team at help@syr.edu. This team includes representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and Information Technology Services. The most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific question(s).

Self-service resources available include:

  • new checklist  from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Guided by the goal of long-term retention, the checklist includes course objectives, assessments, assignments and weekly modules to maximize online learning during the condensed summer semester.
  • A Blackboard summer course template from the Center for Online and Digital Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Applying the template to your course will save you time and energy for the work that only you can do—creating learning opportunities for your students. Please follow these instructions to search for the “Summer 2020 Example Course Template” Blackboard Organization and enroll. Once inside, you’ll see announcements with more information and instructions on how to have it applied to your course.
  • Scaffolding tips to help you build your assignments. This method also works well for courses as a whole.
  • Ideas for creating a sense of community in the online classroom. 

Summer faculty will receive emails with summer-specific support information and resources beginning this week.

Advisory: Extortion Email Scam

Recently, many Syracuse University community members—and people around the world—have received extortion emails claiming the recipient’s computer has been hacked and threatening to release embarrassing photographs if the recipient does not pay the attackers. The passwords cited to assert the threat’s credibility are usually from previous breaches at other organizations that have been made public. If you receive this type of email, delete it. If you still use the password the attackers used to convince you of their “hack,” change it anywhere you still use it. 

Reminder: SITETL 2020 Is Moving Online

The Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning (SITETL) is moving online this year and is open to all Syracuse University faculty members, instructors and teaching graduate students. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. SITETL will consist of two sessions: one general session in the morning for all participants and an afternoon session with four tracks focused on different topics. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Morrison at memorr02@syr.edu.

‘Behind the Monitor’ from ITS: Creating Engaging Videos

On the latest episode of the ITS podcast, Jason Webb from Online Learning Services shares tips for creating engaging videos for your courses. Spoiler alert: You have all the technology you need on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed throughout the summer. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 30, 2020

First and foremost, you’ve done an amazing job this semester. Keep up the good work!

As you approach the finish line, please remember faculty coaching is available. Coaching takes many forms and can help you plan for the end of the semester, develop Maymester and summer course offerings, or plan for the fall semester.

If you would like a consultation or coaching, contact the faculty support team at help@syr.edu. This team includes representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and Information Technology Services. The most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific question(s).

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages, subscribe to the ITS podcast and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • SITETL 2020 is moving online
  • Reflecting on the semester
  • Summer course Blackboard template
  • Reminder: Checklist for your summer course

SITETL 2020 Is Moving Online

The Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning (SITETL) is moving online this year and is open to all Syracuse University faculty members, instructors and teaching graduate students. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. SITETL will consist of two sessions: one general session in the morning for all participants and an afternoon session with four tracks focused on different topics.

You can register online. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Morrison at memorr02@syr.edu.

Reflecting on the Semester

Take a moment to reflect on what you learned about teaching as you finished this semester virtually. Some things to consider:

  • What did I like?
  • What didn’t I like?
  • Who spoke up more? 
  • Which students did I get to know more about? How?
  • What types of students did better? Worse?
  • What did I do better? Worse?

By consciously considering what worked, you will be able to focus on those insights while designing and preparing classes for upcoming terms.

Summer Course Blackboard Template

To support faculty teaching summer courses, the Center for Online and Digital Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence have designed a summer 2020 course template. Applying the template to your course will save you time and energy for the work that only you can do—creating learning opportunities for your students. The course template reflects best practices that support equity, diversity, inclusion and access to make our offerings available to all learners.

To see an example, please follow instructions on Answers to search for the “Summer 2020 Example Course Template” organization in Blackboard and enroll. Once inside, you’ll see announcements with more information and instructions on how to apply the template to your course.

If you would like further design support or coaching, email help@syr.edu. Someone from our team will contact you within 48 hours to support you as you create your summer course. Summer faculty also can expect to receive emails with summer-specific support information and resources beginning next week.

Reminder: Checklist for Your Summer Course

For faculty members planning their summer courses, a new checklist is available from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Guided by the goal of long-term retention, the checklist includes course objectives, assessments, assignments and weekly modules to maximize online learning during the condensed summer semester.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 28, 2020

With the end of the semester approaching, we know you have several big items to check off your to-do list in the next couple of weeks. Be sure to reflect on what you’ve already achieved this semester as well. Taking an inventory of your accomplishments will help you finish strong.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages, subscribe to the ITS podcast and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Summer course checklist
  • Summer online course development
  • Submitting final grades
  • Implementing accommodations to ensure accessibility
  • Reminder: Tips for testing in Blackboard
  • Reminder: Blackboard webinars and training on LinkedIn Learning

Summer Course Checklist

For faculty members planning their summer courses, a new checklist is available from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Guided by the goal of long-term retention, the checklist includes course objectives, assessments, assignments and weekly modules to maximize online learning during the condensed summer semester.

Summer Online Course Development

Faculty who are preparing to teach a summer course online are encouraged to utilize the online Academic Continuity Resources. Instructional design support is available for faculty who feel they need or want to seek additional resources before converting their course for online instruction. To request instructional design support, submit an email to help@syr.edu. Include the title of the course you are developing and indicate if it is a graduate or undergraduate course. An instructional designer will contact you within one business day to coordinate consultation and resource support.

Submitting Final Grades

Final grades are due May 13. You can access online grade rosters via MySlice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Learn more about submitting grades online.

Implementing Accommodations to Ensure Accessibility

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) has shared some brief user guides and general resources about implementing accommodations. Topics include extending times for exams in Blackboard, creating accessible PDFs and more. ODS also has answered some frequently asked questions to help you support students with accommodations.

Reminder: Tips for Testing in Blackboard

Instructors considering Blackboard tests for end-of-semester evaluations can find overview information, tutorial videos and links to in-depth documentation on Answers. In addition, LinkedIn Learning has sections on creating tests, as well as deploying and grading them.

Reminder: Blackboard Webinars and Training on LinkedIn Learning

Instructors preparing for summer and fall 2020 courses might be interested in a webinar series designed for instructors who are new to Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate. Topics include Teaching Remotely, Teaching a Face-to-Face Virtual Class, Mobile Content Creation, and Assignments and Assessments. Watch these recordings of past webinars.

You also have access to Blackboard training materials on LinkedIn Learning. In particular, we recommend Blackboard 9.x Essential Training: Instructors, which has well-organized modules on many Blackboard tools. It is helpful both for new users and for returning users looking for targeted refreshers.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 23, 2020

We hope this email finds you well. Even though it snowed in Syracuse this week, it’s not too early to think about your summer or fall courses. We have included some information about planning your next steps below. Of course, we realize your spring courses remain your top priority.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Alternatives to traditional final exams
  • Tips for testing in Blackboard
  • PlayPosit video training tomorrow
  • Blackboard webinars and training on LinkedIn Learning
  • ITS ‘Behind the Monitor’ on Apple Podcasts

Alternatives to Traditional Final Exams

As we approach finals week, keep in mind that you do not necessarily need to have a final exam if your students can demonstrate they have met your course outcomes in other ways. Consider these possible ideas for assignments to replace a final exam. You also can ask your students for their suggestions.

Tips for Testing in Blackboard

Instructors considering Blackboard tests for end-of-semester evaluations can find overview information, tutorial videos and links to in-depth documentation on Answers. In addition, LinkedIn Learning has sections on creating tests, as well as deploying and grading them.

PlayPosit Video Training Tomorrow

A new tool available to Syracuse University faculty, staff and students, PlayPosit is an interactive online video tool that allows learners to explore and apply new material at their own pace, increasing long-term retention and learning efficacy compared to standard video. The ITS Online Learning Services team has scheduled an introduction tutorial for Friday, April 24, from noon to 1 p.m. using the following link: https://zoom.us/j/174757621.

During the tutorial, you will learn about PlayPosit’s features and capabilities, including:

  • An editing platform that allows instructors to enrich video content with interactions ranging from multiple-choice questions to graded fill-in-the-blanks.
  • Immediate, accessible tracking data (both performance- and behavior-based) to effectively remediate concepts, automatically assign grades and address deficiencies.
  • A seamless workflow that enables you to sync rosters, create and assign video experiences, and streamline grading.

You can RSVP by emailing Matthew Peters Warne, senior instructional technology analyst for Online Learning Services.

Blackboard Webinars and Training on LinkedIn Learning

Instructors preparing for summer and fall 2020 courses might be interested in a webinar series designed for instructors who are new to Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate. Topics include Teaching Remotely, Teaching a Face-to-Face Virtual Class, Mobile Content Creation, and Assignments and Assessments. You can register for upcoming events and access links to recordings of past webinars.

You also have access to Blackboard training materials on LinkedIn Learning. In particular, we recommend Blackboard 9.x Essential Training: Instructors, which has well-organized modules on many Blackboard tools. It is helpful both for new users and for returning users looking for targeted refreshers.

ITS ‘Behind the Monitor’ on Apple Podcasts

Do you have trouble deciding when to use Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate or Microsoft Teams? Could you use some help recognizing phishing emails? These topics and more are covered on the latest episode of ‘Behind the Monitor,’ the new podcast from ITS. Listen on Apple Podcasts.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 21, 2020

We hope this email finds you healthy and safe. As we near the end of the semester, please remember these positivity and well-being tips provided by the Office of Human Resources. In stressful times, making a conscious effort to stay positive makes a difference.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages, check out the ITS podcast and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Summer online course development
  • Online test design
  • ITS accessibility workshops
  • Reminder: Course feedback window open

Summer Online Course Development

Faculty who are preparing to teach a summer course online are encouraged to utilize the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit. Instructional design support is available for faculty who feel they need or want to seek additional resources before converting their course for online instruction. To request instructional design support, submit an email to help@syr.edu. Include the title of the course you are developing and indicate whether it is a graduate or undergraduate course. An instructional designer will contact you within one business day to coordinate consultation and resource support.

Online Test Design

When designing online tests, it’s important to consider such issues as academic integrity, learning objectives and resource availability. Read these best practices for testing in an online environment.

ITS Accessibility Workshops

ITS accessibility workshops help you understand technology accessibility, put it into practice and support the University’s efforts to create a more accessible, inclusive campus. You can view recordings of past sessions on Answers.

Reminder: Course Feedback Window Open

Learning from our students about their course experiences is an important undertaking. The window for collecting student course feedback is open through April 29. During this time, please remind your students to complete the online course feedback form if one is distributed for your course(s). Be sure to thank those who have already submitted responses. If a feedback mechanism is not currently in place for your courses, consider asking your students to share their perceptions on what parts of the course were most and least helpful to their overall experience. For tips on improving response rates and the quality of course feedback from students, visit the Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment website.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 16, 2020

The end of the semester can be stressful even under normal circumstances. We have outlined some tips and resources below, but please remember to give yourself permission to be flexible and to ask for help. We will make it through this together.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages, check out the ITS podcast and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:
• Faculty coaching
• Tips for finishing the semester well
• Discussions in Blackboard
• Reminder: Watch out for COVID-19 phishing scams

Faculty Coaching

Coaching is available to any instructor and might be especially valuable this semester as you adjust to the challenges of completing your courses online. Coaching takes many forms and can address issues of concern, including planning for the end of the semester, developing Maymester and summer course offerings, and planning for the fall semester.

Instructors who would like either a consultation or coaching can contact the faculty support team at help@syr.edu. This team includes representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Center for Online and Digital Learning, and Information Technology Services. The most appropriate support personnel will respond based on your specific question(s).

Tips for Finishing the Semester Well

In two weeks, we’ll complete this spring semester. Students will have to submit their final work to you and their other instructors. Everyone is working from home, which might not offer the optimal environment. How can we finish well together? Read these suggestions.

Discussions in Blackboard

As in a face-to-face course, instructors might want to engage their learners in discussions and group activities in an online environment. This requires planning. Read these tips for successful Blackboard discussions and then learn how to create a discussion board.

Reminder: Watch Out for COVID-19 Phishing Scams

The Information Security Department has seen increased reports of phishing messages that use COVID-19 as a pretext to get users to click on links. The emails promise government checks as part of the federal stimulus package or ask employees to click links to complete a “COVID-19 Payroll Adjustment.” Clicking on the links in the email usually results in a compromise of the user’s password or an attempt to download malware. Our students, faculty and staff are our best line of defense against phishers. Be extra vigilant during this time, and ask yourself these questions the next time you receive a suspicious email.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 14, 2020

We hope this email finds you well. Week in and week out, you are making a difference with your expertise and adaptability. Thank you for setting such a great example for your students as you help them navigate the remainder of the semester.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Course feedback window opens April 15
  • Watch out for COVID-19 phishing scams
  • Guide to recording from home
  • Providing feedback in Blackboard
  • Netiquette
  • Success Story: Supplementing synchronous meetings with asynchronous review videos

Course Feedback Window Opens April 15

Learning from our students about their course experiences is an important undertaking, even more so now as the spring semester has unfolded in such an unexpected way. The window for collecting student course feedback is April 15-29. During this time, please remind your students to complete the online course feedback form if one is distributed for your course(s). Be sure to thank those who already have submitted responses. If a feedback mechanism is not currently in place for your courses, consider asking your students to share their perceptions on what parts of the course were most and least helpful to their overall experience. For tips on improving response rates and the quality of course feedback from students, visit the Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment course feedback pages.

Watch Out for COVID-19 Phishing Scams

The Information Security Department has seen increased reports of phishing messages that use COVID-19 as a pretext to get users to click on links. The emails promise government checks as part of the federal stimulus package or ask employees to click links to complete a “COVID-19 Payroll Adjustment.” Clicking on the links in the email usually results in a compromise of the user’s password or an attempt to download malware. Our students, faculty and staff are our best line of defense against phishers. Be extra vigilant during this time, and ask yourself these questions the next time you receive a suspicious email.

Guide to Recording from Home

Are you about to record your first video? Have you done a few in recent weeks but you’re not sure if you’re doing it correctly? Check out these best practices and recommendations for simple computer-based video recordings while working from home.

Providing Feedback in Blackboard

Online quizzes and tests have features that allow instructors to build in feedback for all questions and to tailor that feedback to both correct and incorrect answers. Learn more about grading and providing feedback in Blackboard.

Netiquette

Proper conduct is just as important in an online course as it is in a face-to-face course. Outlining proper communication and course expectations is important to support the learning of the class.

Success Story: Supplementing Synchronous Meetings with Asynchronous Review Videos

According to the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS), some students have reported that working from home in different time zones has made it tough to fit synchronous tutoring into their schedules. CLASS has devised a solution that might also apply to your courses: short pre-recorded videos that supplement (without replacing) synchronous meetings.

Based on student feedback, CLASS Assistant Director Samantha Johnston reached out to Cooper Shawver ’22, who leads CLASS group tutoring for Economics 101. Together, they dreamed up “Questions for Cooper.” Students can view these pre-recorded tutoring videos at whatever time is convenient for them. Now, ECN 101 students can email class@syr.edu with questions or topics they would like Cooper to review. The videos are posted on the CLASS ECN 101 Online Tutoring Blackboard Organization, which all ECN 101 students can access. This new approach allows tutors to recommend review concepts and study strategies in a format that allows students to view the information when they want it.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 9, 2020

We hope you are getting more accustomed to working and teaching remotely. These communications are intended to support you as a valued member of the Syracuse University community. If you have suggestions for future topics or questions about best practices, please share them. We will do our best to address them.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Best practices for Zoom
  • Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Learning
  • Testing and grading in Blackboard
  • Web workarounds
  • Refresher: Academic integrity

Best Practices for Zoom

As you might know, Syracuse University recently implemented Zoom for students, faculty and staff. With the recent surge in Zoom meetings worldwide, internet trolls have “Zoombombed” public meetings by sharing their screen and playing disturbing content. With this in mind, we strongly urge you to review your settings in detail before launching your next Zoom meeting. Recommended settings include:

  • Require a meeting password.
  • Do not use your Personal Meeting I.D. (PMI).
  • Enable the waiting room feature.
  • Disable “Join Before Host.”
  • Limit screen sharing to the host.
  • Lock the meeting after all attendees have joined.

For more information on these and other security measures, please review these best practices and read this interview with Shiu-Kai Chin, a computer security expert and professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. The ITS Service Center also has compiled a helpful FAQ collection.

Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Learning

In response to concerns about the coronavirus, the 2020 Summer Institute for Technology-Enhanced Learning (SITETL) will not take place in person as scheduled. The Online Learning Services group within ITS is in the process of creating an online alternative. Information about how to participate will be announced in the coming weeks.

Testing and Grading in Blackboard

Now that your courses are up and running in Blackboard, how do you assess your students’ learning and share feedback with them? Learn more about testing and grading in Blackboard.

Web Workarounds

Depending on your students’ circumstances or location, they might encounter issues accessing certain online resources or websites (e.g., YouTube, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Google). In these situations, the ITS Service Center might be able to suggest an alternative. Please contact the ITS Service Center if you need to find a technological workaround to support student success.

Refresher: Academic Integrity

Transitioning to an online environment is challenging, especially when exams and quizzes are involved. For example, learners can text screen shots of exam questions to others or take an exam on a laptop while using a cell phone to browse for answers. The academic integrity overview included in the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit addresses these and other challenges.

As always, we invite your questions, suggestions and success stories (and, let’s be honest, maybe your not-quite-a-success stories). Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.


APRIL 7, 2020

We hope this email finds you well. While the road ahead remains challenging, please take time to reflect on the progress you’ve already made in shifting to online instruction. Thank you for your hard work, creativity and commitment to your students’ success.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Fostering a sense of connection online
  • ITS goes “Behind the Monitor”
  • Syracuse University Libraries still available
  • Beware of COVID-19 email scams
  • Accessibility playlist on LinkedIn Learning
  • Tips and tricks to manage the online transition
  • Success story from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Fostering a Sense of Connection Online

You and your students might be experiencing some feelings of isolation as you adjust to the reality of staying at home. Read about some fun, simple ways to foster a sense of inclusion in online learning communities.

ITS Goes “Behind the Monitor”

Are you looking for some tech expertise with a dose of humor? Check out “Behind the Monitor,” the new podcast from ITS. Experts from the ITS Service Center and Online Learning Services discuss online learning, FAQs and what they miss about campus in this debut episode. You can subscribe to “Behind the Monitor” on Spotify, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Syracuse University Libraries Still Available

Syracuse University Libraries remain absolutely committed to supporting you online. Learn how you can access the Libraries’ resources and experts, including tips on copyright issues for online instruction and external resources that are being offered either for free or at a reduced rate by organizations and publishers.

Beware of COVID-19 Email Scams

The ITS Information Security department has seen scammers attempting to take advantage of the current COVID-19 crisis. Be suspicious of email that asks you to donate, provide personal information or “click here now” to avoid getting locked out of your account. We also have seen scam emails promising COVID-19 immunity, cures or treatments. If you think you have received a phishing or scam email, forward it to itsecurity@syr.edu. Read more about safe computing at home.

Accessibility Playlist on LinkedIn Learning

Syracuse University is working to integrate accessibility into all levels of technology, from procurement to individual use. Accessibility enables full participation by all people regardless of their individual learning styles and abilities. You can learn more about IT accessibility by watching videos from this LinkedIn Learning playlist.

Tips and Tricks to Manage the Online Transition

We are all experiencing uncertain times that can lead to stress, worry and discomfort. As you study online, we will share tips to stay healthy and successful. Today’s tip: Be positive. We are all in a period of learning and adjustment. If your routine or schedule doesn’t work out, it’s okay to try something different. The goal is to find the combination that works best and be flexible within that. Utilize your community and support system as much as you can.

Success Story from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Thank you to the Maxwell School Information and Computing Technology (ICT) Group for sending in the following success story:

The Maxwell School administration used Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for work-from-home meetings with staff and faculty. A similar meeting was created for alumni to share their professional experiences and learn how their alma mater is responding.

The standard Collaborate room capacity of 250 users sufficed for staff and faculty sessions. Unsure of how many attendees to expect for the alumni session, we requested the larger room, which accommodates up to 500 users. Although we did not end up needing this capacity, we did learn some important lessons in how this room worked. Notably, most interactive functions (audio/video/chat) were disabled by default but could be enabled selectively.

We found that it worked out well to open the meeting room 30 minutes before the scheduled starting time. This allowed presenters and moderators time to get comfortable and gave participants the opportunity to test their microphones and webcams.

During the meetings, Collaborate Ultra allowed Maxwell ICT staff to assist with moderation tasks such as recognizing a queue of people wanting to speak, using the “raise hand” function to enable participants in the queue to share their microphone and camera as their turns arose, collecting questions via text chat and recording the conversation for those unable to attend. The phone call-in feature proved useful for many alumni to self-remedy any audio trouble with their own system.

Each session peaked at approximately 100 concurrent participants. The ensuing conversations were organized, informative, reassuring and reflective of the sense of community that usually exists in the halls of our campus buildings.

As always, we invite your suggestions for future topics and your success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

APRIL 2, 2020

We hope this email finds you well. We know you are working to make the best of challenging circumstances while balancing your professional and personal lives. We are honored to serve you, and we invite your feedback for how we can improve. Through our collective expertise and a healthy dose of experimentation, we will all make it through this—together.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Helping students succeed online
  • PlayPosit online video tool
  • Webinar: Creative assignments and alternative assessments
  • Transforming COVID into a learning opportunity
  • Adding LinkedIn Learning content to a Blackboard course
  • Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations
  • Tips and tricks to manage the online transition

Helping Students Succeed Online

University College Dean Mike Frasciello has been at the forefront of online instruction for much of his career. Now, he and his collaborators across campus are working to ensure that thousands of students and faculty members can make the transition to online learning mid-semester. Frasciello recently spoke with Syracuse University News about online education.

PlayPosit Online Video Tool

A new tool available to Syracuse University faculty, staff and students, PlayPosit is an interactive online video tool that allows learners to explore new material at their own pace, increasing long-term retention and learning efficacy over standard video. Learn how you can enrich your video content with a variety of interactions, including multiple-choice questions and fill-in-the-blanks.

Webinar: Creative Assignments and Alternative Assessments

Meredith Martin, assistant teaching professor of psychology, will conduct a workshop on April 7 from noon to 1:30 p.m. EDT to share how she engages in creative course design while considering students’ needs. She also will discuss strategies to make a big class feel small. Distance learning approaches will be included.

Transforming COVID into a Learning Opportunity

The COVID outbreak is disrupting teaching and learning in many ways, and such disruption can provide incredible learning opportunities. Whether using webconferencing, discussion boards or assignments within Blackboard, educating students about COVID-19 may help them to deal with the challenges of the pandemic.

Adding LinkedIn Learning Content to a Blackboard Course

Linkedin Learning offers thousands of courses in a number of different topics and disciplines. Learn how you can integrate these video tutorials into your Blackboard course using a few easy steps.

Creating Accessible PowerPoint Presentations

A PowerPoint presentation should have a thoughtfully chosen theme with good color contrast and legible fonts, consistent structure for ease of navigation by screen reader users, and alternative text on all images and other graphical content. Read these step-by-step instructions for making your presentations accessible.

Tips and Tricks to Manage the Online Transition

We are all experiencing uncertain times that can lead to stress, worry and discomfort. As you transition to the online classroom, we will share tips to stay healthy and successful. Today’s tip: take a break. Devote time to clear your mind and step aside from your computer screen or your work. Take a walk, get some exercise, read for pleasure or talk with a friend. Be sure to set a timer to prevent your break from going on longer than anticipated.

As always, we invite your suggestions for future topics and your success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

MARCH 31, 2020

We hope you are settling into the online learning environment. If you haven’t already, please check in with your students regarding what is working for them and what is not. As mentioned last week, perfect is the enemy of good—but even a small improvement can make a big difference.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Preventing “Zoombombing”
  • Academic freedom and remote teaching
  • LinkedIn Learning
  • Tips and tricks to manage the online transition

Preventing “Zoombombing”

While ITS recommends Blackboard Collaborate as the primary platform for synchronous classes and meetings, there also might be times when you use Zoom. Since there has been a large increase in Zoom meetings, internet trolls have been “Zoombombing” public meetings by sharing their screen and playing disturbing content. In an effort to combat this, the University of Southern California and Zoom have each posted tips for preventing Zoombombing.

Academic Freedom and Remote Teaching

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently posted an article about how professors are dealing with the possibility that their recorded lectures, videos and other course material could become fodder for groups like Turning Point and Campus Reform. According to one lecturer in history and politics at Acadia University, “Faculty are alarmed because they are paying attention.”

LinkedIn Learning

Are you looking to develop a new skill or take up a new hobby? Syracuse University faculty have free access to thousands of videos and courses at linkedinlearning.syr.edu.

Tips and Tricks to Manage the Online Transition

We are all experiencing uncertain times that can lead to stress, worry and discomfort. As you transition to the online classroom, we will share tips to stay healthy and successful. Today’s tip: time management. Create and maintain a daily schedule that resembles as much of your on-campus academic schedule as possible. Your hours can change as needed each day depending on time zones, course meeting times or workload.

As always, we invite your suggestions for future topics and your success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

MARCH 26, 2020

Syracuse University prides itself on its history of “fearless firsts.” As a member of our faculty, you are part of another fearless first as we continue our academic mission under unprecedented circumstances. Thank you for everything you have done, are doing and will do to ensure your students’ success this semester.

Please continue to visit the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which we will update as needed. In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you also can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Library resources for online teaching
  • Low-tech online teaching
  • Announcements on Blackboard
  • Web workarounds
  • Re-imagining your classroom

Library Resources for Online Teaching

Syracuse University Libraries staff members have compiled this guide to support faculty who wish to incorporate library resources into their online courses. In addition to using this guide, please consult the Rapid Online Course Development Guide for best practices on transitioning a face-to-face course to an online format.

Low-Tech Online Teaching

As previously discussed, webconferences or large files (e.g., videos, long audio files) can pose challenges to people with bandwidth issues. When possible, please consider using features such as discussion boards, group chats, PDFs and other alternatives to synchronous, bandwidth-intensive instruction. The iSchool has provided suggestions for ways to foster online student engagement beyond webconferencing.

Announcements on Blackboard

Are you going to be 15 minutes late to your scheduled Blackboard Collaborate session? Do you need to miss it entirely? Be sure to communicate any changes to your schedule using the Announcements feature within Blackboard. You also can use announcements for assignment/project due dates, changes to your syllabus and correction or clarification of materials.

Web Workarounds

Depending on your students’ circumstances or location, they might encounter issues accessing certain online resources. In these situations, the ITS Service Center might be able to suggest an alternative. For example, if a student cannot access YouTube, the student likely could access video content on Ensemble. Please contact the ITS Service Center if you need to find a technological workaround to support student success.

Re-Imagining Your Classroom

Throughout the remainder of the semester, remember the aphorism that “perfect is the enemy of good.” As you transition your courses, syllabi, lectures and assignments online, don’t be afraid to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. Try new things, ask your students what is working and revise as needed. When you fail, fail fast. Take advantage of this opportunity to re-imagine your (virtual) classroom.

As always, we invite your feedback as classes progress, including your suggestions for future topics and your success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

MARCH 24, 2020

We hope this message finds you well. As classes resume online, please review the material available in the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit, which is designed to facilitate your transition to online instruction.

In addition to our regular communications each Tuesday and Thursday, you can refer to our archive of previous messages and follow ITS on Instagram and Twitter for updates and tips.

Today’s topics:

  • Bandwidth Considerations
  • Ensemble Video Recording: An Alternative to Webconferencing
  • Supporting Students with Accommodations Online
  • Special Offers from Content Providers and Internet Service Providers
  • Safe Computing Tips
  • FAQs
  • Success Story

Bandwidth Considerations

As you might have experienced, the online learning experience depends on an individual’s network bandwidth, which can vary depending on the day of the week or the hour of the day. Internet service providers across the nation have seen slower-than-normal upload and download speeds. With this in mind, experiment with the time of day or day of the week you upload content. You might have better luck early on a Saturday morning or later on a Tuesday night than in the middle of a Monday afternoon.

Ensemble Video Recording: An Alternative to Webconferencing

As previously discussed, webconferencing can pose challenges depending on students’ locations, bandwidth constraints and other factors. Additionally, if you schedule a conference outside of your assigned classroom time, you might introduce scheduling conflicts for your students. If you are looking for an alternative to live webconferencing, ITS Online Learning Services recommends the Ensemble Video Recorder Chrome Extension as an easy way to capture short video clips and screencasts.

Supporting Students with Accommodations Online

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) will continue to provide support as you settle into online instruction. ODS has shared some helpful user guides about implementing accommodations, including extending times for exams in Blackboard. If you have questions regarding a particular student or accommodation(s), please reach out to the student’s ODS access counselor, listed at the top of the student’s accommodation letter.

Special Offers from Content Providers and Internet Service Providers

In addition to resources made available by Syracuse University, we have published a list of academic resources from a variety of content providers (e.g., Adobe Creative Suite) in response to COVID-19. We also have compiled a list of internet service providers offering special plans or incentives.

Safe Computing Tips

Now more than ever, it’s essential to protect your information. Check out these tips to keep your data and Syracuse University’s data safe and secure.

FAQs

We continue to update our list of frequently asked questions about Blackboard Learn and Collaborate on Answers. Some of the most common questions from faculty and students include:

Does it matter what browser I use?

Yes, Chrome or Mozilla Firefox work best.

Why am I having difficulty logging in?

Check that you are using Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Next, ensure you are using your NetID and password to log in. If you still have trouble, contact the ITS Service Center at 315.443.2677 or help@syr.edu.

Why isn’t my NetID/password working?

At any time, you can visit netid.syr.edu to look up your NetID, confirm your password works or reset your password if needed. If you still can’t log in, contact the ITS Service Center at 315.443.2677 or help@syr.edu.

Success Story

A member of the Online Learning Collective Facebook group shared the following note:

I decided to make the last three weeks of my winter course asynchronous with once a week due dates. I just got this note from a student:

“I do not have any questions or concerns. I will say thank you for making the class so flexible to everyone’s situations, as someone with major ADD all these classes with super rigid synchronous work is super stressful and it’s nice to have one professor who gets it.”

I followed a lot of advice [from the Facebook group], and it was solid. Don’t get too fancy, acknowledge students are going through a rough time, etc. So THANK YOU. I have had several expressions of gratitude like this. I think LESS IS MORE in this situation.

We invite your feedback as classes progress, including your suggestions for future topics and your success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

March 19, 2020

We hope you and your family are navigating the current challenges as well as can be expected. With classes set to resume online next week, we will provide as much support as possible to ease the transition and will continue to stay in touch throughout the semester.

If you haven’t done so already, please communicate with your students this week to let them know what they can expect in terms of coursework, web conferencing and online office hours while inviting their ongoing feedback to determine what is working well and what needs improvement. Communication is essential to the success of our academic mission.

As always, the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit remains the central repository for information regarding online teaching and learning.

Today’s topics are:

  • Remote Desktop Services
  • Alternatives to Web Conferencing
  • Creating Accessible and Inclusive Online Content
  • Blackboard Capacity
  • Focusing on Student Success
  • Re-Examining Exams

Remote Desktop Services

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) provide remote access to a Windows 10 operating system complete with University-licensed software applications. This service is intended for Syracuse University students, faculty and staff who have a stable broadband internet connection but do not have a pre-existing method for working remotely. Please note that you should use your local device for Blackboard (including Collaborate) to ensure the best experience. You can learn about the new Remote Desktop Services, as well as other remote access solutions, on Answers.

Alternatives to Web Conferencing

With the heightened emphasis on Blackboard and Blackboard Collaborate, it is important to consider the desired outcome for a given lesson and whether a live web conference is necessary to achieve it. Web conferencing can pose challenges such as coordinating students in different time zones, bandwidth issues and more. When possible, consider using tools such as pre-recorded 15-minute audio lectures, discussion boards and group forums. For more ideas, read this blog on videoconferencing alternatives and our own iSchool’s helpful matrix of online interaction methods (both asynchronous and synchronous).

Creating Accessible and Inclusive Online Content

To help you create inclusive online content, visit our Accessible Technology Toolkit on Answers and Blackboard’s free Accessibility Checklist. As we shift to online instruction, delivering content that is inclusively designed and accessible is essential. Blackboard Ally is included in our learning management system and enables us to build a more inclusive online learning environment.

Blackboard Capacity

In a recent post on the Blackboard Community site, Blackboard Chief Product Officer Tim Tomlinson said the company has seen record numbers of users with universities moving to remote instruction. “I’m glad to report that our system is performing well,” Tomlinson said, “and users are having a good experience in large part.” ITS will continue to stay in close contact with our Blackboard service delivery manager to monitor and address any issues related to capacity. We also have posted some Blackboard Collaborate tips to ensure the best experience for you and your students. In addition, the ITS Service Center and Online Learning Services staff are committed to supporting faculty in delivering their courses via remote methods.

Focusing on Student Success

The education environment has fundamentally changed in recent weeks, but our students’ safety and success remain our top priorities. EAB recently discussed three best practices to guide your decision-making through the rest of the semester.

Re-Examining Exams

Some faculty members will conduct their first online exam this semester, while others might need a refresher. Whatever your comfort level, this flowchart from Giulia Forsythe of Brock University provides an opportunity to reconsider the format of your exams.

We will close with a reminder: We are all in this together. We invite your feedback, including your suggestions for future topics and your success stories. Thank you for all you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

March 17, 2020

Before discussing today’s academic continuity topics, we would like to thank you for your efforts to deliver the education your students deserve. These communications are intended to strengthen your response to extraordinary times, so please share any feedback with your school or college IT personnel to guide future messages.

As always, the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit remains the central repository for information regarding online teaching and learning.

Today’s topics are:

· Adapting Your Syllabus
· Academic Integrity
· Teaching From Home
· Blackboard Organizations
· Training Opportunities

Adapting Your Syllabus

When classes resume online next week, please remember that “perfect is the enemy of good.” As you adapt your course to an online environment, allow yourself the flexibility to revise assignments, change formats (e.g., an audio lecture instead of a video presentation), etc. Ask your students what works best for them given their current situations. Now more than ever, your students are your partners in education.

Academic Integrity

Transitioning to an online environment is challenging, especially when exams and quizzes are involved. For example, learners can text screen shots of exam questions to others or take an exam on a laptop while using a cell phone to browse for answers. We have added an academic integrity overview to the toolkit to address these and other challenges.

Teaching From Home

To help you negotiate the differences between teaching on and off campus, we have developed the Working and Teaching Remotely guide, which covers subjects such as Blackboard Collaborate and remote desktop solutions. Please direct any technology-related questions to your school or college IT personnel. A quick tip: Talk to your family about maximizing available bandwidth when you need to work online.

Blackboard Organizations

Are you looking for an online meeting space? Blackboard Organizations can serve as an online meeting space for groups that would like a space for information sharing, collaboration and communication. Examples might include faculty and/or staff organizations, departmental organizations, research groups and recognized student organizations.

Training Opportunities

We will continue to provide a range of training opportunities related to working and teaching online. You can find a schedule of upcoming Blackboard Collaborate Ultra training sessions on Answers.

This is not the semester that anyone envisioned. We realize that everyone’s situation is slightly different in terms of family, resources and more. Even so, please remember that you are not alone—we are all in this together. We look forward to helping you make the best of a challenging situation.

March 12, 2020

To support the transition to online course delivery effective at the end of the academic day on Friday, March 13, we will continue to send regular communications to ensure you have the most up-to-date information related to online teaching and learning. If you haven’t already, please bookmark the Academic Continuity Resources toolkit available at at Syracuse.edu/coronavirus/academic-continuity.

Today’s topics include:

• Working and Teaching Remotely 
• Student FAQs 
• Ensuring Online Accessibility 

Working and Teaching Remotely

We have added a Working and Teaching Remotely section to the toolkit. This page provides a checklist of items necessary to teach or work remotely, as well as an overview of remote access solutions, web conferencing tools, file sharing options and much more. Please review the checklist as soon as possible and discuss any hardware or software needs with your school, college or unit IT support personnel.

Student FAQs

We have begun to compile a list of frequently asked questions from students to help you address their needs. Some of the most common questions include:

Where do I access Blackboard?
Go to blackboard.syr.edu or connect through myslice.syr.edu. For either option, use your NetID and password to log in to Blackboard.

Does it matter what browser I use?
Yes, Chrome and Safari work best.

Why am I having difficulty logging in?
Check that you are using Chrome or Safari. Next, ensure you are using your NetID and password to log in. If you still have trouble, contact the ITS Help Desk at 315.443.2677 or help@syr.edu.

Why isn’t my NetID/password working?
At any time, you can visit the NetID self-service page to look up your NetID, confirm your password works or reset your password if needed. If you still can’t log in, contact the ITS Help Desk at 315.443.2677 or help@syr.edu.

How do I find my course information?
Once you log in to Blackboard, your course will be listed under My Courseson the landing page. Click on your course name to enter the course room and access material. If needed, you also will find access to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra by entering your course room for a virtual classroom.

You can find more FAQs related to Blackboard and Collaborate on Answers. We will share additional questions and answers based on student and faculty feedback.

Ensuring Online Accessibility
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) will remain operational during the suspension of residential classes. Access counselors will be available to discuss additional accommodation requests from students. ODS will continue to support faculty in providing enhanced mitigation of course materials to students who require it. For general ODS questions, visitdisabilityservices.syr.edu or email disabilityservices@syr.edu.

We will send academic continuity resources update emails each Tuesday and Thursday over the next few weeks. For specific technology-related questions, please consult your school or college IT support personnel or contact the ITS Service Center. For teaching questions, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence also is available to support. Send questions and challenges to CTLE@syr.edu. Your questions (and the ensuing solutions) will inform future updates. Together, we will make this work.

As always, thank you for everything you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

March 9, 2020

As we work to ensure the continuity of our academic mission, in the event that concerns related to coronavirus require a suspension of residential academic programming, we have created the Rapid Online Course Development Guide. This guide will facilitate moving classes online and engaging students in distance learning modalities to meet course learning objectives. In addition to best practices regarding online course development and instruction, you will find associated technical reference material.

The Rapid Online Course Development Guide is part of a larger toolkit of Academic Continuity Resources under development by the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Information Technology Services, and the Center for Online and Digital Learning. We will continue to add resources to the toolkit in the following days and weeks as events warrant. This toolkit will provide:

• instructions for activating and populating your Blackboard course section with essential content
• options for meeting course objectives with alternative instruction
• information about research-based online teaching methods
• technical support resources, including creating a virtual classroom

We also recommend that instructors take the opportunity now to talk with students about the possibility of remote coursework, including asking students to practice using web conferencing tools. Additionally, the Syracuse University Office of Online Student Success is coordinating with the Office of Retention and Student Success within the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience, the Office of Disability Services, the Center for International Student Services and academic advising offices within the schools and colleges to ensure that student support and services are available in the event of instruction moving online.

We appreciate your willingness to adopt new technologies in order to best serve our students in this challenging time. We will continue to provide updates on available resources as we add them. For technology-related questions, please consult your school or college IT support personnel or contact the ITS Service Center.

Thank you for everything you do for your students and for Syracuse University.

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