Online Tools for Instruction

Tools and Support for Online Instruction

With the return to campus, there will be a range of modalities that will be used for instruction.  While we progress toward more face-to-face instruction, students and instructors alike may need to adopt alternative modes, whether synchronous or asynchronous, to complement or augment more familiar approaches to instruction.  The Taylor Institute of Teaching and Learning has resources to support and guide the adoption of blended instruction. This page provides further references and resources to support you in the expanding range of teaching scenarios that may occur as we identify ways for classes to connect virtually.

Multimodal Synchronous Delivery may be considered in instances where classes are held face-to-face, but videoconferencing is used to accommodate students who have to join at a distance.  Please follow these steps as you prepare:

Determine the needs you anticipate to facilitate your course to all of your students. This will consider factors such as the learning objectives, planned instructional activities, assessment and students' need for flexible modalities for participation.  The Blended and Online Learning resources at the Taylor Institute would be valuable as you try to determine approaches to course design to address the unique combination of needs for your course and students.

While the combination of needs, approaches and design aspects will vary, the following ought to be done when preparing to mix modalities (e.g. synchronous face-to-face and online instruction) for your lesson or course:

1. Assess the classroom that you plan to facilitate from and determine if you have the audio and video equipment to include remote students in the session.  Sufficient microphone equipment to broadcast audio to the students is the priority over video cameras.  If you do not have sufficient microphony in the room, you can use the built-in microphone in a personal laptop computer, or contact tandl@ucalgary.ca to request a peripheral microphone to be plugged into your computer.  A peripheral microphone would be ideal. To reserve one of these rooms, please fill out the form at: https://live-ucalgary.ucalgary.ca/student-services/calendar-scheduling/general-assignment-rooms/how-book-classroom and ensure to detail your technological needs. There will be challenges to addressing the needs of both audiences and a teaching assistant or a student designated to monitor inquiries and input from remote students would be valuable in this situation.

2. Generate a Zoom meeting link for the session. Before running the session, test your audio quality by recording your session in the room and with the equipment you plan to use.  If the sound quality is insufficient on the recording, contact tandl@ucalgary.ca for technical support, equipment and advice.

3. Consider strategies to keep remote students engaged and active during the session.  You may consider the following:

  • have a student in the room participate via Zoom and monitor chat messages from remote participants.
  • create opportunities for remote students to participate in group work in real time
  • provide remote students classroom materials in advance of the session whether by mail or D2L
  • share your PowerPoint throughout the session rather than video of the classroom
  • complement your presentations with videos of narrated PowerPoints that summarize the core content of the session
  • Look for opportunities to allow remote participants to share their contributions (speaking, notes, etc. whether by screen sharing, collaborative whiteboard or other means)

For further insight on the scenarios you may find yourself in when teaching with a mix of modalities we invite you to read "Designing for Technology-Enabled Learning Environments."

Instructors using Zoom for synchronous online sessions should schedule their Zoom sessions for the times that their face-to-face sessions had been scheduled.  This will minimize disruption to student schedules.

Schedule recurring sessions to allow participants to use a single Meeting ID/ URL for all the sessions in the course. Do not feel it necessary to fill the entire length of the face-to-face session while in the Zoom environment.

Check the calendar for the Office of Teaching and Learning for Zoom training sessions that will be facilitated regularly.  If you need further support, consult the Zoom instructor handbook or email tandl@ucalgary.ca to arrange a training session to review the fundamentals of Zoom.

Zoom allows the sharing of PowerPoints, other documents and webpages from your computer in real time. Other participants can also share do the same without disrupting the flow of the meeting by altering sharing and hosting privileges. Breakout rooms can also be activated to allow group work by sharing documents, working together on the whiteboard available in Zoom or collaborating on another web-based file.

When facilitating a Zoom session from your laptop, it is recommended that you use smart phone earbuds or a similar headset with a microphone to ensure sufficient transmission of your voice.

Zoom can be used to host virtual office hours.  You would schedule a Zoom meeting in your account, but for office hours, activate the waiting room feature when scheduling the meeting.  This will allow you to see the names of participants coming into the session, but prevent them from intruding on the appointment you are engaged in. More tips on virtual office hours are available among our Online Learning Resources.

When teaching face-to-face, you may have made less extensive use of D2L for the distribution of course materials and for facilitating of group discussions outside the classroom. With the shift to teaching online, there has been greater demand for the features available in D2L. For guidance on use of D2L, you can visit the university's eLearn page or D2L's YouTube page for tutorial videos.

If you are using D2L for the first time, ensure that your D2L shell is active. To do this, go into the shell under Edit Course and click on Course Offering Information on the subsequent page.  Scroll down the Course Offering Information page and click the box next to, “Course is Active.”

If you are sharing material in D2L for the first time, the ideal place to do it is under the Content.  This will accommodate the upload of documents and the addition of links to files, webpages and videos and other content.  This will also facilitate the upload and assessment of student work through the Dropbox built into each shell. However, the dropbox would need to be defined for each assignment.

Also, in D2L, using the Discussion Boards as a venue for discussion about aspects of using D2L can help ensure that the experience is a productive one for everyone while they are participating remotely.

YuJa is a video management site that allows the recording video, including from your computer desktop.  It accommodates the narrated recording of a PowerPoint presentation as it appears on your computer. 

You can launch the YuJa platform from either D2L or https://yuja.ucalgary.ca and then record from your desktop or a laptop or peripheral camera.  This would allow you to make a video of a presentation that you would then be able to upload to D2L for student review.  Alternatively you would also have a link to the video that you could use to share it.

If you are looking for tips or tutorials on features of these programs, visit the following:

UCalgary IT: tips on D2L, YuJa, WordPress and more
Getting Started in Zoom: Help page from the Zoom website
Zoom Student Handbook: Developed by Werklund for use by students in Zoom sessions
D2L/Brightspace video tutorials: YouTube videos on several possible applications within the D2L learning management system.
Teaching Continuity (Taylor Institute)more resources and guidelines to support the transition to further online instruction