Technology for Teaching Virtual/Hybrid Classes

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many classes taught on campus have transitioned to flexible learning modes. This is new territory for many of us, and we recognize that these changes are challenging in many ways. Here are some things to keep in mind as we work through this.

Working Remotely

OIT’s website has a list of resources for employees working online.

eTech has made several video tutorials explaining connection processes for iPad users. Visit our Vimeo collection, eTech Tutorials: Working Remotely Using Your iPad.

Teaching Online

Every course already has a Blackboard shell in place for you to deposit course materials and assignments.

UA has tools such as Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate to help you record lectures and videoconference with students. For tips on keeping your Zoom meetings and class sessions secure, see note at the end of this page, under “Questions?”

The Center for Instructional Technology has a list of instructional technologies along with helpful tutorials on how you and the students can use them.

Campus Services, Technology, and Facilities

Take advantage of cloud options, such as UA Box, so you can access materials remotely. Mobile apps are available for phones and tablets, making it easy for you to access your files anywhere.

Videoconferencing tools, such as Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate, are also available and can be installed on mobile devices. You can request a Zoom account through the OIT website. For tips on keeping your Zoom sessions secure, see note at the end of this page, under “Questions?”

You don’t need a scanner to convert paper documents to electronic files. One option: Download AdobeScan, which lets you use your mobile device (phone or tablet) like a scanner; you can also use it to complete and sign forms. For more information, see Scanning Documents.

The A&S Teaching Hub offers a wealth of information on online teaching, digital pedagogy, integrating technology into teaching, and more. Content in the Teaching Hub is produced by A&S and UA faculty and staff.

Accessibility

Keep accessibility in mind: Moving classes into alternative formats makes accessibility more important, not less.

Ensuring the accessibility of content posted to Blackboard is made much easier by Blackboard Ally for LMS, which automatically provides alternative formats for course materials and guidance for instructors in fixing accessibility problems. Learn more at the UA accessibility initiative’s website.

Faculty and staff who have completed the A&S Web Accessibility Course know where to start with accessibility of web-based materials, such as articles and assignments posted to your website or course blog. Anyone who has enrolled in the course has access to all course materials and references.

Blackboard Ally for Websites offers additional resources to help you create accessible web content.

Questions?

Contact Ruth Pionke (ruth.pionke@ua.edu) or Jason Miller (jason.miller@ua.edu). Either of them should be able to assist you or point you toward an appropriate resource.

Keeping Trolls Out of Your Zoom Sessions

Faculty have reported trolls joining their Zoom meetings to post offensive content. You can prevent most instances of harassment — or at least shut down the trolls — in just a few steps.

Require passwords for any Zoom meetings or classes you create. To do this for a new meeting, simply click on the password box to enable it when you set it up through Zoom.

You can edit existing Zoom meetings to enable passwords by going to into each scheduled meeting, clicking edit on the meeting, then clicking the password box to enable it. You will then need to send the password information to your participants.

Faculty who have enabled waiting rooms have added another layer of security, and we recommend that they continue that practice as well. The password setting mainly prevents unauthorized access from people who are electronically scanning the web for active sessions.

One excellent resource on keeping Zoom safe: “ZoomBombing” on CIT’s website.

For more information about protecting your online class space, read Maintaining an Inclusive Classroom Online, a collection of resources by the UA Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.