Tips for Switching to Virtual Instruction

Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.First and foremost, let's face it. The idea of a switch from in-person instruction to virtual instruction in the middle of the semester is overwhelming. We need to be gentle with ourselves, our colleagues and our students as we contemplate something this daunting. 

Also, if we do move to online instruction, we'll need to prioritize. No one is expecting that we can convert a class with in-person meetings into a fully online asynchronous course overnight. Our classes will necessarily be stripped down to the essentials, and it's hard to decide what to keep and what to let go.  Again, let's remember to treat ourselves and each other with compassion during this challenging time.

To prepare for a potential move to virtual instruction, check out the Zoom and Canvas sections below for a few basic online tools to consider using in your classes. 

Consider Replacing In-Person Class Meeting Time with ConferZoom

ConferZoom is free for all CCC faculty. It's a video conferencing tool that allows you to hold whole class discussions as well as to break the class into small groups with Breakout Rooms. You can also share slides and handouts from your computer in a similar way to how you might use the digital projector in the classroom.

  1. Sign up for a free ConferZoom account with your VCCCD email. NOTE: the district has now submitted all VCCCD faculty for ConferZoom accounts. Watch for an email to let you know your accounts has been activated.
  2. Schedule a meeting or use the Personal Meeting ID to create a virtual space to meet with your students. This video walks through how to sign up and use Zoom in about 5 minutes.

  1. The following video by a CCC English instructor goes into much more in-depth about using ConferZoom.

  1. Here's a short video on how to use Breakout Rooms for small group discussions and projects in class, including how the instructor can switch between rooms to facilitate group discussions and answer questions.

Use Some of the Basic Functions of Canvas

Announcements: You can create an announcement to share important information with all the students in your class. The announcement is delivered to your students by email or text, depending on the student's preference for notifications.  All notifications remain visible to students within Canvas as well if they click on the Announcement link.

Assignments (for Uploading Essays): One of the most basic functions for an instructor in a writing class is collecting essays. In Canvas, you can use the Assignment tool to create a way for students to upload their papers. As you create the assignment in Canvas, you can also set up an online peer review and have all essays automatically checked through Turnitin.com.  Check out this video to see how to create an assignment and add Turnitin.com screening.

Discussions: It's fairly easy to create an online discussion forum through Canvas. Students can post an informal response to any prompt you create (i.e. Post a Golden Line from today's reading and explain why you selected it.). You can also ask students to reply to each others' posts to encourage some interaction online. You might ask students to reply to the post immediate above and below their post, or simply ask them to reply to any two students of their choice. 

Homepage: The default homepage in Canvas is the "Course Activity Stream," basically an automatically-generated list of all recent activity in the class such as announcements and assignments. If you want to create a friendlier, personalized homepage, check out this video.

To learn more, check out Canvas's comprehensive list of how-to guides for instructors.

Ask for Help: There are many Canvas pro users among the English faculty, so please ask a friend if you need some help. Visit our English Faculty Canvas shell for more tips and a discussion forum. Also, the college's incredible Distance Education team provides DE Resources for Faculty online.