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Educational Technology Options for Remote Teaching

In the event that courses cannot be taught on campus (weather, pandemic, etc.), these considerations and potential solutions are offered to assist faculty in mitigating the loss of instructional time. Please contact Pam Youngs-Maher, youngsmp@upstate.edu or Kristen Flint flintkr@upstate.edu in eLearning for further information. The recommendations made below are based on tools that Educational Communications is ready to support. A number of “how to use” guides are available in Blackboard in FACDEV101, Teaching with Bb.

General Tips to help you prepare

  • Download your class lists and student contact information from Banner and save on a flash drive.
  • Follow the communication protocols established by your college for communicating with your students, and send them a message. Be sure to include YOUR contact information.
  • Remember that Groupwise is the official mode of communication for UMU communication.
  • For every credit course, there is a companion Blackboard (Bb) shell where students are enrolled; this Bb course can be used for communicating with students. It sends emails out through Groupwise.
  • Load your syllabus, schedule, and course materials in Bb so that you and your students have access to course content BEFORE you lose access to your work computer/campus office.
  • Make sure your Bb course is accessible to students! If you have not used it this semester, go to the control Panel (left side in the course, below the course menu in blue; click on Customization, Course Properties, then scroll down and under “Set Availability” select Yes, then click on Submit (lower right corner). This will open the course immediately.
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How can I distribute handouts, readings, updates, etc. to my students?

  • You can use Groupwise to email documents, but there is no “repository” for later reference.
  • Use Bb to upload your syllabus, schedule (or revised schedule) and course materials.
  • For updates on your course, use the Bb Announcements – this is the landing page in each course. Create the announcement, then choose (bottom of the page) whether to send it out as an email. Do NOT send attachments when sending emails out of Bb!!! NOTE: having the announcement in the Bb course is the one way you can “prove” the class was notified of any changes.
  • Using a Bb “Item” (see Bb for instructions) allows you to share documents and provide guidance on your expectations by typing into the description area what you would share face-to-face.
  • For information on how to build Bb Folders and Items, refer to the FACDEV101 course in Bb, Teaching Using Bb. Look for the Bb Tutorials link area, then click on Building Content:
  • https://bb.upstate.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_61334_1&content_id=_720921_1&mode=reset

What are my options for delivering lectures during remote instruction?

  1. VoiceThread (VT) allows you to upload a PowerPoint deck and narrate each slide for flipped classrooms or online (asynchronous lessons). It also provides a tool for annotating images or the text on each slide. You may choose whether students can comment or not. VT is accessible in EVERY Bb course. See FACDEV101, Course Tools link for instructions.
  2. Zoom, WebEx or Screencast-O-Matic will let you record lectures from your desktop. You can pre-record lessons this way.
  3. Zoom can be used to deliver lessons synchronously, or to facilitate discussions
  4. WebEx can be used for synchronous lessons; it will be integrated into Bb by 3/13/20.
  5. You can also facilitate student presentations using VT or Zoom or WebEx. Talk to eLearning.
  6. What tools do I need for these options?
    1. Headset with built in microphone (Logitech comfort chat is recommended) or ear buds
    2. Web camera is preferred for synchronous tools such as WebEx or zoom
    3. Computer with good Internet connectivity.

How can I collect assignments?

  1. You can build an assignment using the Bb Assignment Tool (See FACDEV101, Bb Tutorials area, Assignments link in the course menu), it will give you a place to provide or attach instructions, set up a deadline date, and assign points. In the Assignment link in your course menu, use the Assessment Button at the top of the page. This creates a companion column in the grade center. When you grade the assignment, the points are automatically entered in the grade center. Assignments are accessed by going to the control panel, grade center, and then to that column for the assignment. A gold circle indicates an assignment has been submitted.
  2. TurnItIn (TII) is integrated in Bb, and can be built right in the course. This option is also found by going into the Assignment link in your Bb course menu, then by using the Assessments Button at the top of the page. This provides a tool for collecting an assignment, and checking the originality of the work (also known as checking for plagiarism). To grade TII assignments, go to the Control Panel below the course menu; choose Course Tools. Scroll down the list, and find TurnItIn. Click on that link, then on the title of the assignment. More details can be found in the FACDEV101 Bb Course.
  3. You may also collect assignments using the Bb Journals This lets you collect multiple “papers” over time in one place if you are asking students to reflect on clinical work, etc.

What are my options for discussions, journal club, and small group projects?

  1. Bb can be used for asynchronous discussions on readings, case studies, etc. First decide:
    1. Will they work as a whole class? If yes, then you will build a discussion in the discussion link in your Bb course.
    2. Will they work in small groups? If so, you will need to set up a group set, parse your students into the small groups, then create the discussion for each topic in each group. The eLearning office can assist you with this process, as well as all the others listed!
  2. Using Zoom or WebEx, you can connect with your class for synchronous
  3. VT includes a comment feature (using audio, webcam or typing) which can also facilitate an asynchronous discussion. If you use a moderated discussion feature in VT, you can use it for a “Pop Quiz” on a slide and only you see the students’ answers!
  4. You might also allow students to work in groups on a Google site outside of Bb, and then share their work back in the Bb course. Collecting results gives you a way to view and grade the work.

How can I conduct tests and protect the integrity of the results?

This is challenging, but there are ways to mitigate cheating. eLearning places a lesson in every online course about academic integrity, and students have to complete an assignment that attests to the fact that they read the lesson, and understand there are dire consequences for cheating. This attestation (or a true/false quiz) can be used to “trigger” student access to the quiz/test.

  1. To build a Bb test, use the FACDEV101, Bb Tutorials, Tests and Quizzes link for guidance.
  2. Respondus Lock-Down-Brower (LDB) can be used for low stakes exams. It is a browser that must be downloaded on the student’s computer (See FACDEV101 for the Respondus LDB link). It is a browser, and when you build the test in Bb, you then enable the use of LDB through the Control Panel in your course – Course Tools/Lock Down Browser. Students use the LDB browser to take the test; once in Bb and in the test, they are “locked” in the exam and cannot browse other sites. That assumes they don’t have notes, textbooks, mobile devices or friends nearby!
  3. Respondus Monitor is enabled the same way as LDB: you build the test in Bb, then go to the Control Panel/Course Tools, and Respondus LDB, then into Advanced Settings. Monitor requires a student to use a webcam. S/he must show the Upstate ID card, a webcam picture is taken, and the student must show a 360 degree view of the room to attest that no notes or devices are available before the exam will release. [we have a limit of 200 uses for Upstate, so we’d need to increase our license to use this widely]. Monitor video records the student during the exam.

How will I provide feedback and grades during this time?

  1. Email should NOT be used, as this is a FERPA issue, and grades are not protected in emails.
  2. Bb provides a mechanism for grading and feedback in any assessment tool you use.
  3. Using a rubric in Bb will provide consistent and concise feedback to each member of the class.
  4. Test scores, assignment grades, etc. are all viewable to each student (each student sees ONLY his/her own grades) 24/7.
  5. Bb will calculate a total tally of points, or a weighted total if you choose to set that up. This provides students with up-to-date feedback on how they are performing in the course, relative to your grading schema in your syllabus.


Adapted at Upstate Medical University from the following resources:

Ann Taylor, Penn State “Technology Options to Consider” © 2020; Retrieved 3/5/2020 from

SUNY Purchase Teaching, Learning and Technology Center, © 2020; Retrieved 3/6/2020 from

For additional ideas and resources, check out these sites:

How to be a better online teacher, Chronicle of Higher Education, © 2020; Retrieved 3/5/2020 from


Emergency Remote Teaching, Resource List, compiled by Daniel Stanford, DePaul University, retrieved 3/4/2020 from



Last revised: 3/9/2020