You should communicate such expectations at the start of the course. You might even enlist students in the process of determining such expectations or “netiquette.” One key challenge is to strike a balance between student concerns about privacy and the necessity of student engagement for a successful course for all. To this end, assist students in obtaining blurred or virtual backgrounds (Bowdoin virtual backgrounds can be found here: https://portfolio.bowdoin.edu/backdrops_portal/), communicate to them that you understand that there may be occasions when they cannot have their video on and to let you know when this is the case, but also insist that their presence and participation (with virtual background) is generally required, as is the case with in-person classes.
FAQs about Online Teaching
Bowdoin faculty are dedicated and talented teachers, but the online environment poses specific challenges. Below are some of the questions that have been raised again and again. We will be updating them as you continue to pose questions and offer suggestions. See the BOLT iPad FAQs for questions more specifically about iPads and the iPad initiative.
A Bowdoin course credit is equivalent to approximately twelve hours of work each week for fifteen weeks. (A Bowdoin credit is equivalent to four credit hours per Federal guidance as to what constitutes a credit hour.)
In the context of in-class instruction, it is expected that three “contact hours” are spent together in a shared physical space, with a minimum of nine additional hours a week spent in lab, discussion group, film viewings, or preparatory work.
In the context of online instruction, twelve hours of work or “time on task” each week should be your baseline. It may be the case, however, that depending on the type of course, additional time is necessary. “Time on task” is the estimated time students will be engaged with learning course material and completing assignments, bearing in mind the variability of students’ pace and schedule. See Rice University’s comprehensive workload estimator here: https://cte.rice.edu/workload. In online courses, contact hours as “seat time” in a shared physical space is, of course, impossible. In this context, “contact time” is synchronous or real-time interaction. However, given different time zones and screen fatigue, it may not be feasible nor advisable to provide three hours of synchronous meeting time for all students each week. According to best practices, online courses should provide a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous components; the ratio of that mixture will likely vary depending on the discipline and size of the class. For an example of one configuration of synchronous class time, see this helpful explainer video here.
Asynchronous time can take many forms, such as listening and responding to a prerecorded lecture, completing an assessment, or posting to a discussion board. Interspersing short recordings with learning activities or low-stakes assessments has been shown to increase student learning.
Synchronous time is defined by real-time interactions in a “virtual space” (usually videoconference) between instructor and students or between students. We strongly recommend that instructors plan for at least one hour of synchronous meeting(s) per week for each student. Synchronous time can be divided across the week as best suits the nature of the course and, depending on the class size, instructors may want to consider smaller group meetings in addition to, or instead of, a whole-class synchronous session. Most best-practice references suggest that synchronous meetings be limited to forty-five to sixty minutes (although shorter and longer meetings may sometimes be appropriate).
Note: Students will be informed as to these expectations in their Blackboard Orientation course. You may also wish to post this information on your syllabus.
Should I adjust the workload over breaks? What about quizzes and exams over breaks?
Faculty should adjust the workload over break to accommodate possible travel time as well as the need for rest and recuperation. A break also offers an opportunity for students to catch up or get ahead: students will need to prepare for the classes that immediately follow break. To these ends, faculty should generally plan on assigning asynchronous time on task activities that are correlative (by the standard 3:1 hours) to the synchronous hours scheduled for that week. Faculty should also keep in mind that quizzes, exams and/or projects will likely be scheduled at roughly the same points throughout the semester (especially proximate to breaks) and should provide wide windows of time in which to complete them and, if timed, additional time for completion.
Yes! High stakes, “closed book and notes” exams can be anxiety-producing in ways that obscure student learning rather than demonstrate student learning.
An asynchronous final project builds student capacity with regard to time management and independent work. Some possible asynchronous final assignments include Memorandum, Annotated Bibliography, Research Paper, Op-Ed, Fact Sheet, Recorded Oral Presentations, Podcasts, Portfolios, Posters, Reenactment of a Historical Trial.
If you conclude that a timed synchronous exam is best for your students, be sure to provide clarity around expectations as to what is allowed and not allowed including, but not limited to, protocols for questions to the instructor, time constraints, and any collaboration. (See Computer Science's Collaboration Policy for an example.). You must also make provision well in advance for students who need extended time and who may have technology issues. For fall 2020, the exam period runs from 12/16-12/21 with all final assignments due by 5 pm on the 21st, and nothing due during Reading Period. Faculty must request from the Registrar a specific, synchronous time during the exam period for administering a timed synchronous exam. Details about this process are forthcoming.
Students who are hired to facilitate student learning in a course cannot be enrolled in that course. Ideally, they have taken the course before and received a grade of “B” or higher. Students employed to support other students’ learning can perform a range of tasks (as indicated by topics below) and receive pedagogical training, organized by the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching, and focus on facilitating student learning and engagement. Please reach out to Katie Byrnes, to get your student trained.
- For questions about a Learning Assistant/Non-Grader or a Teaching Assistant, contact Katie Byrnes, Director of the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching.
- For questions about Q-skills tutor or study group leaders, contact Eric Gaze, Director of Quantitative Reasoning at the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching or visit this site: https://www.bowdoin.edu/baldwin-center/for-students/qr-program/index.html.
- For questions about Writing Assistants, contact Meredith McCarroll, Director of Writing and Rhetoric and Director of the First Year Writing Seminar at the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching or visit https://www.bowdoin.edu/baldwin-center/for-students/writing-and-rhetoric/the-writing-workshop.html.
- If you are interested in a Grader, talk to your academic department or program coordinator first as they know the hiring process and are also aware of budget constraints.
- If you need tech support, please reach out directly to IT (x3030) as they hire and train students to staff the helpdesk. The can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-725-3030.
When uploading your videos to Ensemble you can elect to have them captioned. Teams can also provide captioning for recorded videos. If you record your synchronous class on Zoom, it is automatically captioned on cloud and then entered into your Ensemble video library. You can then request that editors (students and staff hired by Bowdoin) edit them for readability and accuracy. Note, too, that both Ensemble and Teams can provide post-recording captioning in several languages.
According to Bowdoin’s existing IP policy, faculty members retain the rights to their intellectual contributions, and this continues to be true on digital platforms. None of the platforms which support remote teaching and learning may claim IP rights over content created by faculty or by students.
A number of issues should be kept in mind about rights and responsibilities in the digital setting.
- Please remember to communicate with each of your students directly about their work and records – not their parents. And, as you think about grading, please be sure that each student’s information is accessible only to them – not their classmates.
- You need to ask your students for permission to be recorded if you plan on having recorded sessions available for other students in the class to view.
- Please inform your students that your and their consent to be recorded does not confer a blanket right of use or reuse; it does not mean that recordings or portions thereof can be shared or posted elsewhere or used in another semester. Note: If the recordings are on Ensemble then they are not downloadable by default. It is possible to add security to any video on Ensemble to force Bowdoin authentication on them as well. If videos are on Microsoft Stream, then only people with Bowdoin credentials have access to them. (Please reach out to BOLT email@example.com for additional guidance on providing such security.) Nonetheless, it is important to educate your students as to privacy rights.
- Students must not presume that they can invite others (not in the class) to view and listen to class sessions. Tell students that they should try to adhere to the norms of physical class meetings. They would not normally bring friends and families into the classroom to listen to lectures or view screenings without prior permission from the professor. In the same way, digital materials from their courses should not be shared and should ideally be viewed in private spaces or, if in public, using headphones.
Everspring has designed a Student Orientation to Blackboard course that will be vetted by BOLT and staff from Student Affairs. When it is completed, it will be loaded onto Blackboard for all students; their completion of the course will be signaled by their completing a quiz. It will be promoted to all students, and especially to first year students as part of Student Orientation upon their arrival on Bowdoin’s campus on August 29.