Situations might arise when it is not possible to conduct classes in person because it is either not possible or not permitted to meet with your students in person. As a teacher, situations like this will require you to make use of the digital tools available at UCL University College.
A guide for students is available here, so please share the link with your students.
Distance learning as a student - Please share this link with your students in itslearning
In the department for Learning Technologies and IT Service (Læringsteknologi og IT-service), we are committed to helping all in need of assistance. But when external circumstances disrupt our daily lives, it can be difficult to get to everyone. Make sure to read our guides, but otherwise do not hesitate to contact IT Service at email@example.com or 63 18 44 44.
Learning takes place in itslearning with support from G Suite for Education.
As a teacher at UCL, itslearning is the primary platform for planning and commnunication, and this will still be true, even when the planned classes cannot be held in a physical classroom. Remind your students to install the itslearning app so as to not miss important messages. When it is time to conduct the planned lesson, it is our recommendation that you gather online with your students in Google Hangouts Meet.
PLEASE NOTE: We recommend that you do not use Adobe Connect for your classes as there is a lack of user licenses and many may not be able to enter.
A rule of thumb for this sort of situation is to focus more on asynchronous activities. Read more below.
All teachers and students have access to G Suite for Education using their UCL login.
Tips for conducting classes in Google Hangouts Meet
Conducting classes online in Hangouts Meet will not be the same experience as meeting in person, neither for the teacher nor the students. It is important to match your expectations. For instance, it is a good idea to do what you can in order to reduce the requirements for the participants' bandwidth, which means minimizing the use of sound and video.
Here are some good advice for successfully conducting online classes:
- Expect extra time to prepare. Firstly, teaching online will probably lead to you speaking for longer periods of time without interruptions. Secondly, you want to have the energy to deal with the technical aspect. If you can, try out the program with your colleagues to get familiarized with it.
- A webinar could be the way to go. With a large number of participants in one online meeting room, it could quick prove difficult to manage the students' right to speak. Consider conducting your class as an online seminar where you as teacher will be the primary person to speak.
- Use shared documents in G Suite to communicate with students and also reduce the need for students' need to speak in Hangouts Meet. The shared documents can be also used for questions or assignments during the lesson. A shared document is much easier to manage than the built-in chat in Hangouts Meet. Find guides for G Suite here.
- Let the students discuss orally in groups in breakout rooms. They can collect their feedback/results in the beforementioned shared document that you as teacher can follow up on once you gather again in the primary meeting room. You can then choose to give one person from each group permission to present the group's result if it is relevant. Read more about breakout rooms here
- Ask students to log into the meeting room at least 15 minutes before the lesson begins. This way you can avoid having to deal with technical issues after the lesson has begun.
See our guide for creating meeting rooms and conduction classes in Hangouts Meet here.
Technical requirements and recommendations
In order to conduct lessons in Adobe Connect or Hangouts Meet, you will need:
- A PC/Mac (preferably with a webcam, but it is not required)
- A headset with a microphone
- A stable internet connection, preferably wired
Students can participate from a PC/Mac through the link that you will share in itslearning or an e-mail. If it is easier for students, they can also join through the Adobe Connect or Hangouts Meet apps for their mobile devices.
If students need to speak in the meeting, it is essential that all participants use a headset to avoid echoes. Moreover, it is generally considered polite to mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
A toolbox full of options
Using itslearning, Hangouts Meet, and shared documents in either G Suite, you have the best tools at hand to facilitate learning online and ensure that students can continue their educations under the given circumstances.
However, if you feel up to it, there is a whole collection of other tools that can be used to create an online learning environment for the students. Here is a couple of examples:
- Create a discussion forum in itslearning (find it under activities) where the students can create new threads themselves and contribute to discussions in connection with an assignment, a project or something else.
- Create a Padlet for your students using the "Backchannel" layout. This will provide them with a space for informal communication similar to a chat they might know from social media. This solution gives you, the teacher, a chance to keep track and also participate if needed, and it considers all students, including those that do not use Facebook.