Subject: Technology options for working remotely
Date: March 11, 2020
With the continuing spread of COVID-19, we must be prepared for a situation in which in-person classes are canceled and access to campus is restricted. This memo provides information about the technology options available to faculty, staff, and students that may enable the business of the university to continue online to the best of its ability. We hope that you will consider and test out these options now so that you are prepared.
Gather Your Materials
Almost everything described below can be completed within a web browser like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge. Just be sure you have a few resources ready:
- Internet: Make sure you can have an internet connection available to you off-campus to access Calvin services remotely.
- Computer: If you have a Calvin laptop, consider bringing it home with you every day. If you use a Calvin desktop at work, make sure you have access to a computer in the location you have deemed your remote working space.
- Files: Make sure the files you need can be accessed off-campus. OneDrive, part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite, is a great tool. Log in with your Calvin username and passphrase at https://www.office.com/ and click on OneDrive to get started.
- Headset, Earbuds, or Mic/Speaker: If part of your plan includes video/audio conferencing, then make sure you have earbuds or a headset, with a microphone, and a webcam. Most Calvin laptops already include a web cam and microphone.
Use Moodle, Calvin’s Learning Management System (Faculty)
Moodle is the primary tool at Calvin for the distribution of materials, quizzes, and grades. Familiarize yourself with these basic functions in Moodle if you aren’t already. Even if you haven’t previously used Moodle, every course section for the semester is already preloaded into the Moodle system and can be used immediately. Start at https://moodle.calvin.edu, and click on ‘Support & Training’ for more help.
- Basics: making your course visible and adding content
- Resources: Word documents, Webpages, Links
- Activities: Assignments, Quizzes, Discussion Forums
- Grades: Submitting Grades, Grading an Assignment
Collaborate and Communicate in Microsoft Office 365
- Email: Microsoft Outlook is the primary campus communication tool. Remember, you can run Outlook in a browser through the Outlook Web App at https://owa.calvin.edu.
- Teams: Microsoft Teams is an excellent chat and collaboration tool and can even be used for holding remote meetings or classes. Microsoft Teams video training will get you up to speed quickly.
Refer to the IT Resources for Remote Teaching and Working Website
A list of resources can be found at http://calvin.edu/go/remote
Prepare by Practicing
Faculty members may wish to collaborate in class with their students to determine the best ways of communicating or coordinating remotely. Consider “testing” the scenario with assignments, lectures, or hold a class where students are remote.
Consider recording lectures using a computer or mobile phone app and posting them to Moodle, use photographs, illustrations or diagrams from a personal whiteboard to emphasize concepts, assign readings and links to articles available on the web page or Hekman Library, provide assessment quizzes for each class in the Moodle class site, and hold appointment-based or scheduled office hours using Microsoft Teams. For labs, consider video recording a demonstration of the lab with key points so these could be posted as online labs, or taking pictures of each step and illustrate the lab as a slide.
Again, we hope that you will test some of the options now so that you are prepared in the event that in-person classes are canceled. Keep in mind that this situation is not an effort to use technology to replace the residential campus experience with an online experience, but rather one that calls for the temporary utilization of digital tools as an alternative.
Please note that university managed, or contracted systems are configured to keep faculty, student, staff, and constituent data secure and private. Use of other systems, including social media or personal technology are not necessarily configured or managed to the level of security and privacy required by the university. Use common sense and caution when posting data, particularly related to student data, intellectual property, or high value information to public sites.
CIT has noticed an increase in cyber-scams, phishing, and spam mail related to COVID-19. Please be cautious when clicking on links, providing personal information, or exploring offers to purchase or sell during this period. Specifically, university offices will never ask for passwords or personal information, including health information or financial information, via social media, web, or email.