There are now over 35,000 confirmed cases of Corona Virus, also known as COVID-19, in the United States. As of March 20th Governor of Illinois J.B. Pritzker, has issued a shelter-in-place order effective until at least April 7th. To avoid contracting or spreading the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you keep at least six feet of distance from others, stay indoors as much as possible, and frequently disinfect commonly used or shared surfaces such as keyboards, computer mice, toilets, sinks, door handles, light switches, controllers, remotes, chair backs, and staircase railings.
NTFC has compiled some resources, tips, and useful articles to read to help us navigate this transition to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re all in this together, so, if you have concerns or need some tips about setting up online courses, please contact us. Please also send us your suggestions for how to improve this resource.
What Does Our Contract Say About Online Teaching?
While our contract does not have language directly related to online teaching, the same expectations of departments to clearly set and define duties and expectations of work apply. Our contract stipulates that all departments must, for example, be able to tell you what percentage of your job your teaching, research, or service duties are.
In addition, we recognize that many of you might face delays or altered course schedules due to the transition to online teaching. We remind you that, per our contract, you are not required do perform any duties outside your dates of service except for: grade reporting, grade disputes, and unit orientation, training, or meetings, all of which can be done electronically. Your department must notify you if they expect you to perform other duties after the end of the semester. Just because you’ve faced delays in your class schedule doesn’t mean the semester end date has been pushed back! Don’t overwork yourselves–stick to your end date and alter your course plan accordingly.
Online Teaching Tools
Each class is different, and there’s no one-size-fits all approach. There’s plenty of software out there that you’ll want to experiment with to see what’s best for you. A few programs to check out are below, with some that might require subscriptions for full functionality.
- Zoom–This is a great tool for video conferencing with your students. You can share your screen and video of yourself at the same time, and you have the option to mute participants, upload files to the chat, and record the entire session so that others can view it at a later time. Everyone with a valid NetID should have Zoom access. You can check out this quick guide to get setup with Zoom.
- Slack–You can use this to organize your class online and easily see information about different threads or “channels”. It’s all free, and includes add-ons for taking polls, integration with Google Calendar, and other features.
- Discord–Similar to Slack, Discord offers a platform to quickly and easily sort information into different channels. It also includes video and screen sharing support for conferencing with students.
- When2Meet–This tool lets you quickly and easily schedule meetings. It’s especially useful for trying to schedule large groups of people, as the best times to meet are instantly visualized and updated each time a new person fills out the poll.
- Kahoot–This is best for creating short quizzes or games for students to play to help them learn information, and many language classes use it to teach vocabulary. Kahoot also comes with a very meme-able soundtrack, free of charge.
What Are Other Schools Doing?
- Many schools are moving to all pass/fail courses, or extending deadlines by which classes can move to this category. Schools like Harvard University, Middlebury College, Vanderbilt University, Ohio State University, and many others.
- Most schools have suspended all international travel, closed campus, moved to remote teaching, and closed libraries and other public buildings.
Guides, News, and Tips
- Guide to Local Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
- University of Illinois General COVID-19 News and Updates Page
- University of Illinois Recommended Approaches to Online Teaching
- ATLAS Online Teaching Guide
- The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning has a resource page for online class development, and you can also schedule individual consultations with them about how to design/improve your online classes.
- University of Michigan’s “Keep Teaching” Guide to Remote Instruction
- Chronicle of Higher Education, “How to Be a Better Online Teacher”
- Chronicle of Higher Education, “Preparing for Emergency Online Teaching”
Some community members have started a Mutual Aid Resource document listing aid programs in Champaign County. For some of the most recent headlines regarding utilities, legal news, or other updates related to public services and COVID-19, you can check out this post from the Public i.
Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious diseases expert from the University of Chicago School of Medicine, explains in simple but sobering terms the need to #flattenthecurve.
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