Resources for Remote Instruction and Learning - Notification - March 9, 2020

From: Vice President of Operations
Sent: Monday, March 9, 2020 4:00 PM
To: College Community
Subject :   Resources for Remote Instruction and Learning
@ccny.cuny.edu>

 

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Instruction and learning during a Potential COVID-19 Campus Closing

The City College campus has resources that can be used in the event of a campus closing to continue instruction and learning.  Remember that a course instructor who has reason to move a class from in person to on line instruction must receive permission from his or her chair, and chairs should coordinate these requests with deans. 
Course instructors should take some time now to decide which of the following technologies best fit the needs of your class, and test everyone’s ability to log on and use the system.  Keep track of students who have no way of connecting from home or another safe space, bearing in mind that most of these work with smart phones as well as with computers. 
Below, you’ll find some of the tools we have for you to use along with instructional links on how to use them. Specific resources for students are located near the end of this document.

Blackboard

Our learning management system, Blackboard, has a feature known as Collaborate Ultra.  It is a powerful web conferencing tool that enables instructors and students alike to have “in class” experiences from anywhere with a computer and internet connection.  With Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, you can share live video from your web camera, power point presentations, use a white board, and even record your online session for future reference.
You can access Collaborate Ultra from any course on Blackboard, and it does not require a license or accessory in order to function – if you teach a course or are an enrolled student, you are ready to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra!
This is the Link for the Blackboard User Guides for information on how to use many of Blackboard’s features: http://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/cis/core-functions/cuny-blackboard/  user-guides/faculty/#1445874180784-dff4039f-45ef
For specific information on how to use the Collaborate Ultra tool, follow this link https://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/cis/core-functions/cuny-blackboard/user-guides/blackboard-collaborate-for-students-and-faculty/
Again, it is important that you test this feature before you actually need to use it.  Set up a trial with your students so that they become familiar with the use of Collaborate as well.  Additionally, we have found that this product works best with the Firefox or Chrome browsers, so please let your students know.  Students can also use the Blackboard app on their tablets or phones (IOS and Android).

Conferencing Applications

We also offer alternative conferencing software – BlueJeans and Zoom.  We have limited licenses for these products and if you need to use one of these applications, please reach out to Academic Technology Services at iMedia@ccny.cuny.edu to request assistance.  Please know that Blackboard is our preferred tool as we have unlimited licenses for this product.

Presentations (PowerPoint, Prezi).

If you do not require the interaction that Collaborate offers, there are additional tools that can be used in a more simplistic manner.  With PowerPoint 2016 or higher (available through your O365 account), you can record your lecture on top of PowerPoint slides.  You can record material over any of the slides in your PowerPoint deck, giving information that you might typically provide in a live lecture.  The presentation can then be saved and shared on Blackboard, OneDrive or Dropbox.  We recommend using Dropbox to store the files and posting the link on Blackboard.
Use the following link to learn how to use this feature - https://support.office.com/en-us/article/video-record-presentations-2570dff5-f81c-40bc-b404-e04e95ffab33. Please test the option out before relying on it in case of a campus closure.  Set up a trial with your students to ensure they are able to play your lecture.

Academic Commons

The Academic Commons of The City University of New York is designed to support faculty initiatives and build community through the use(s) of technology in teaching and learning. It provides for the free exchange of knowledge among colleagues across the university is central to better educating the student body and expanding professional development opportunities for faculty research and teaching. Creating networks and support systems that are enabled by easy access to quality digital resources will nurture faculty development through sharing replicable materials and best practices.
The Academic Commons could be used as a teaching and learning tool between faculty and the students.  The following Videos will give you a tour and show you how to set up a learning community and use Academic Commons. 
Overview - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxzjwwHZtHg
Setting up your account - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHhNZa-fdMU
Setting up a blog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9ZnAAAQlKE
If you plan to use the Academic Commons, please make sure your students have set up an account and can access your blog.

Digital Content

CCNY Libraries has electronic resources available through our web site: https://library.ccny.cuny.edu/
CCNY Libraries licensed digital collections offer a wide array of material types that could be incorporated into courses.  These include articles, books, videos, image collections, newspapers, historical archives, music, and journals and magazines dating back to the 18th century.
To browse databases by subject use the All Subjects dropdown tab.
Open Educational Resources (OER), which are freely available text and course materials, are listed by broad general discipline areas here:   https://library.ccny.cuny.edu/oer.  These can substitute for physical books.

Handling Administrative Tasks

Remote Access to Systems - The “LOGIN” menu on the College’s home page can be clicked on to provide up-to-date links to access all our major systems, such as Blackboard, E-mail, Password Reset, etc. Using these links ensures that the address of a site is the most up-to-date.
Remote access to office desktop computers – In some cases faculty and staff members may need a VPN account to work on their office computers from off-site.   Some examples are:

  • A faculty member who needs access to large amounts of research data that must be stored on College servers for security reasons.
  • A faculty or staff member who needs access to special software that is installed only on the office computer.
  • A faculty or staff member who needs to work with confidential information, such as student grades or records, that cannot be stored on Office 365 or Dropbox.

Faculty and staff may request a VPN account using the following link https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/it/vpn-access-request. Once access is granted, user will receive an email with instructions about how to connect to campus resources using VPN.
VPN is not necessary for faculty and staff who only need to access email, Blackboard, CUNYfirst, or want to access/share course materials and other non-private information. CUNY Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive are a much easier way for faculty and staff to store and share documents that do not include personally-identifiable information.
Office Telephone Calls – Faculty and staff members can request to forward calls to an external telephone number. This request will have to be made to servicedesk@ccny.cuny.edu . Users can also update their voice mail greeting from off-campus to provide instructions to callers on how to best reach them by following the instructions on the voice mail web page, https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/it/voicemail

Resources for Students

Follow the guidance of your instructors on how each of your courses will be handled.  In all likelihood, you will have at least a couple of different ways professors will conduct their classes.  You should be familiar with each potential method. 
Make sure you can access your resources remotely.  These resources include Blackboard, CUNYFirst, Citymail, Office 365, Dropbox, and the CCNY website. Additionally, if you need specialized software to work on projects, make sure you have access to that software.  The CUNY virtual lab provides access to several software packages.  For information on the virtual lab, please go to https://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/cis/virtual-desktop/
In addition to the software available on the virtual lab, there are other software packages available to students. The following link shows the software platforms available to you: https://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/cis/technology-services/#student
and,
https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/it/software_stu

Communication is Key

If we must move to alternative instruction and use distance learning tools, communication is key to success.  Please ensure that you communicate clearly the instruction methods and tools that will be employed.  Assignments and how they are to be handled should be understood by your students.  If tests are given during this period, realize that we do not currently have a way of proctoring or ensuring that a test is being taken without the aid of outside resources.

Ken Ihrer
Vice President of Operations
Chief Information Officer
The City College of New York