Online Teaching and Learning
30 Online Teaching Tips
Alexandra Bitton-Bailey and Micah Jenkins
My Students Need to Collaborate to Create a Presentation for Their Final Project and Present. How Can We do That?
Your students can use the Google Suite:
You can also host your class at the same time that you normally would, but virtually in a Zoom meeting instead of face-to-face. Once in Zoom, put your students into breakout rooms so they can collaborate on their project.
Delivering Quizzes and Other Assessments
Honorlock is UF’s designated online proctoring service for moving classroom exams and quizzes online. The Office of Distance Learning has Honorlock tutorials, and so does UF e-Learning. If you have additional Honorlock questions, contact Chris Newsome or the Office of Distance Learning.
*Respondus LockDown Browser*
Respondus LockDown Browser provides another level of security for online testing. The LockDown Browser disables all functions of the student’s computer other than the test being taken so students cannot copy/paste, search the internet, or access any documents on their computer.
Recording and Uploading Video Lectures
If you are new to video lecture recording, Zoom is likely to be the easiest tool for you to use. Then, you can set up your recordings in Canvas. If you need additional assistance, you can request instructional design support from the following resources:
- The Center for Instructional Technology & Training
- The Zoom Guide
- Zoom FAQs in the UF Instructor Guide
NOTE: instructors must sign-in once through the UF Zoom website in order to create their account before using Zoom through Canvas
Performing Your Video Lectures
Micah Jenkins (CTE): Smile for the Camera – Performing Your Video Lectures | Transcript (pdf)
Even if you are a practiced classroom instructor, it can take some time to get comfortable with lecturing on camera. Most of us tend to feel uncomfortable when we see ourselves on camera. Although it can feel like videos highlight the least flattering aspects of how we look and sound, that doesn’t have to be the case. The following tips can help you feel more confident with being captured on film.
Before you make videos available to students, rehearse your lectures. You can do this by making a recording of yourself reading your script. Then watch your video to critique your performance. As you watch your practice video, pay attention to the following:
- Diction – Are you speaking clearly and are the beginnings and endings of your words crisp and distinct? If your speech isn’t quite clear, you can try exercises like this tongue twister to improve your pronunciation: “Can I cook a proper cup of coffee in a copper coffee pot.”
- Pitch – This is how high and low your voice goes. Find the range that is the most natural for you and move your voice up and down that range to make your speech more expressive.
- Volume – You want your voice loud enough to be heard, but not too loud. Consider how near or far you are to your camera and adjust your volume accordingly. If your voice is naturally quiet, consider using a microphone.
- Pacing – This is the speed at which you speak. If you speak too slowly, your viewers might find your videos boring. If you speak too fast, your viewers won’t be able to understand you. Make sure you breathe as you speak, and try not to rush.
- Tone – Your tone reveals your attitudes about the words you say. If you sound bored about your topic, it will be difficult for your students to stay engaged. However, if your tone says “engaged and interested” your viewers will be too!
- Smile! – This is critical! Not only will your smile help you to come across as warm and approachable on video, it will also put both you and your viewers at ease.
Lighting and Camera Placement
Your video lectures don’t need to be Oscar worthy motion pictures to be effective teaching tools; You just need to make sure that your students can see and hear you clearly. If you have a cell phone, laptop or tablet, then you already have the tool required to shoot quality video. Keep the following camera placement tips in mind to make your recorded lectures look their best:
- Be mindful of your background – as an instructor, you’ll most likely be filming in your home or office so pay attention to your background. Try to avoid filming in front of a cluttered desktop or in a messy room.
- Always shoot in landscape mode – this will help you to avoid black bars on either side of your video.
- Hold the camera steady – a small tripod can really help you to avoid shaky footage. You can also use your body as a tripod by holding your camera with two hands and tucking your elbows into your sides.
- Raise the camera to eye level – this will help you look your best and you’ll spare your viewers the sight of your nose hairs.
Now you know where to place your camera, you’ll need to make sure that you’re properly lit. To get great lighting, use the following tips:
- Don’t shoot directly beneath overhead lighting – this can cast unflattering shadows on your face. If overhead lights are all you have, stand beneath the light and move over about a foot or so to soften the shadows.
- Avoid using fluorescent lights – These can make you look greenish. Instead, use a desk lamp lit with an incandescent or soft white bulb.
- Take advantage of sunlight – the sun is great source choice for natural lighting. Unless you’re going for a shadowy effect, you’ll probably look best with the sunlight positioned behind the camera, shining directly onto you.
PowerPoints and Video Lectures
If you decide to use PowerPoint in your video lectures, stick to a high contrast color scheme. Your slides should include high quality, interesting graphics and photos with little text. Try to avoid clip art and use sites like pixabay.com and Unsplash.com to find high quality stock images that are free to use. If you include charts in your PowerPoint, the same rules apply: your chart should be a high quality image and include little text. Try to make it easy to glance at the chart or graphic to glean the relevant information. If you do use text, the font you choose should be clean and easy to read. Sans-serif fonts are suitable for use in PowerPoint slides.
Film your PowerPoint slides in widescreen format and try to limit the amount of transitions and animations you include on each slide. A good rule of thumb is to use only two or three different transition effects in your slide deck. Additionally, only use transition effects between some – not all – of your slides.
Campus Video Production Resources
If you aren’t comfortable filming your own videos, or don’t have the time, consider using one of UF’s recording studios:
- Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT) Video Services and samples
- Located at 2215 Turlington Hall
- DCE Video Production Studio
- Located at East Campus 2046 NE Waldo Rd., Suites 1100-1250
- email DCE Production Studio
- Unit production services
- Your college or department may have video production support designed to meet the needs of your discipline
- Check with your department chair regarding the availability of unit services
How Good Does the Video Quality Need to Be?
Your videos don’t need to be perfect. They just need to deliver the information your students need to successfully complete the course assignments, activities, and assessments. Good audio is the most important element.
Getting Started in Zoom
NOTE: instructors must sign-in once through the UF Zoom website in order to create their account before using Zoom through Canvas.
Breakout Rooms in Zoom
If you want your students to work in groups and you already know how you want to split them up, you can pre-assign your students to breakout rooms using a CSV file. If you aren’t quite sure how to plan a group activity in Zoom, use this Zoom Breakout Room Group Activity Facilitator Guide to get started.
NOTE: Be sure to inform your students that it’s a UF Student Honor Code violation to share Zoom links to people outside of your course. If other students appear in the video, sharing Zoom links can also result in a FERPA violation.
Recurring Zoom Meetings
Depending upon how often your course meets, follow these steps:
- Select the checkbox next to recurring meeting
- Select the appropriate recurrence in the dropdown (weekly will most likely be the best option).
- Select from the dropdown repeat every 1 week (unless your course doesn’t meet weekly)
- Select the days in which your course meets by clicking the checkbox next to the day
- Set an end date
Polling in Zoom
You will need to load your questions in advance using a .csv template. (Scroll to the bottom of the meeting creation screen in your Canvas Zoom tool.)
Enabling the “Raise Hand” and Other Non-Verbal Features in Zoom
- Access your account via the UF Zoom website
- Click on “settings” in the left menu
- Scroll down and turn on “nonverbal feedback”
When setting up a Zoom session, set up access to your session to allow only individuals with UF credentials access.
- Under your meeting options, select “Only authenticated users can join”
- Choose “UFL participants” from the list
- Provide instructions to students:
- Click on the meeting link
- Select the “SSO” sign in option
- When asked to enter your company domain, type in “ufl”
- This will take you to UF’s Gatorlink authentication page
- Sign in with your Gatorlink credentials
To learn more about privacy in Zoom and best practices, visit the e-learning website.
Virtual Office Hours in Zoom
You can use the “Waiting Room” feature in Zoom to allow you to use the same meeting link for your office hours for the term. By enabling the “Waiting Room” feature in Zoom, you can choose to admit only one student at a time into a meeting to ensure privacy. We recommend asking students to sign up for specific time slots on a calendar or spreadsheet to avoid long wait times.
When setting up a Zoom session:
- Under your meeting options, select “Enable Waiting Room”
- When you join your meeting:
- Click on the “Manage Participants”
- Select the student you want to join in the meeting, and select “Admit”