BITeS

10 Mar 2020

Asynchronous online teaching in the COVID-19 era

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

As colleges and universities move to limit person-to-person contact at this time I have had several people on- and offline ask me about teaching remotely. There are a number of threads on Twitter that I've scanned but to be honest, I've been so busy trying to figure out what I'm planning to do that I decided to just type up some thoughts and hopefully people can chime in with their own comments.

I don't know for sure what our campus is doing yet, but from what I have heard, it seems that we will limit/forbid person-to-person contact and all courses will be delivered electronically. This impacts everyone differently, but labs seem to be disproportionately affected. I will discuss my approach to lab, lecture and office hours below. All of these were tested on MacBookPro running Catalina (10.15.3) and/or an iPad Air from 2013.

 

LAB

I have students submit spectra when they submit a report (IR and NMR typically), so I have several years’ worth of student data. I plan to have students interpret several Mo(arene)(CO)3 complexes to report trends of electron donation and CO stretching frequency. I also have data for a few MnBr(P-P)(P(OR)3)(CO)complexes (where P-P is one of several bidentate phosphines and P(OR)3 is one of several monodentate phosphites. Again, we can explore electronic effects on CO stretching frequency. I also will ask students to do Gaussian calculations on a molecule using WebMO and then write all of this up in a single 5 page report that includes more discussion and background instead of my more normal 2 page report that focus mostly on experimental reporting. Fun fact: you can try WebMO for free here. For what it's worth, there is some real student data for Evans method NMR calculations on VIPEr as well, but we've already completed that experiment for this year.

 

LECTURE

From what I've gathered reading my feeds, shorter videos are easier to manage, upload, download, and deal with. Students don't need good internet to access them, and I worry about broadband infrastructure MWF at 9-950 in the United States, to be honest. So, I have decided that I am going to produce short 5-10-minute videos that introduce or explain a topic or concept, and end it with a "now, think about this last point and answer this question," or have them start a VIPEr Learning Object individually. I haven't for sure decided what technology I will use but I spent several hours this morning testing various options.  My favorite (and free) option is to use QuickTime to record a PowerPoint deck with my narration underneath. A quick google search this morning gave me what I needed to do this on my first try. QuickTime player comes with my Mac and I was able to do a "New Screen Recording" easily. I have also considered using Explain Everything. This is $25/year for academic license and my department chair uses it regularly; he offered to pay for it. There is a good tutorial and I recommend just playing with it. This is an iPad app.

For another option for Lecture, let me link to a YouTube video shared by one of my colleagues. He regularly livestreams his videos using YouTube for his large classes, and it seems easy but I decided that I didn't want to livestream or record a 50-minute lecture. 

 

PENCASTS

I have been a big fan of the LiveScribe pen since it first came out (thanks @Sheila Smith at UMD). It records audio while you write with a ball point pen on special paper. I have several pencasts on the VIPEr site for LGO and MO diagrams. The good part about this is that it exports PDFs that can be played on the livescribe site. The pens are about $100. Explain everything also works reasonably well though I have found that the recordings have a bit of a scratching noise from the stylus writing. Newer iPads with the Apple Pencil should have less noise. I also have Notability, and that does a good job with capturing pen strokes and audio, but you can't export the file and it would require the students purchase the app (5-10$).

 

OFFICE HOURS

The VIPEr leadership council uses Zoom regularly for our meetings, though I do not have access personally. We are on a Google campus and I tested Google Meet quickly this morning with a student. Use the Chrome browser for best functionality. I was able to easily access audio, video, and share my screen.

 

I hope that others can share their technology options in the comments. We can help each other through navigating the technology and make this difficult time a bit easier, perhaps.

Comments

Two updates.

1) The Chronicle had an essay about "Going online in a hurry..." that has some good tips.

2) Chem101 sent an email; "we are announcing zero cost access to Chem101 for all students and faculty impacted by COVID-19 for the remainder of the Spring semester or academic quarter." Full disclosure: I know nothing about this company and have never been to their website...

My school's learning management system is integrated with a lecture capture system called Panopto that also supports web casting. If we move to online instruction, I will be trying that first. Back up plans include Google Hangout/Meets and Zoom (if we get an institutional license).

My institution shared this google doc yesterday that is a collection of resources curated by someone in the Business school(?) at Depaul. 

On the iPad, one can use the "Screen Capture" to record anything that happens on the iPad screen. You can switch between apps and then export the video to your camera roll. It is very straightforward and the instructions that I provide to my students and colleagues can be found in this set of Google Slides. [Update: These instructions have now been turned into an LO and can be found at https://www.ionicviper.org/web-resources-and-apps/ipad-screen-recording.]

I have used this method to record my voice and writing in Notability (which can be shared with students who do not have the app). I have also recorded myself using other apps and browsing web pages. 

Note that depending on the version of iOS that you may encounter a bug where the audio is removed from the exported video. If you run into this, let me know becuase I have a separate set of instructions for that situtation.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

We have also just gotten access to Panopto, but I am still a neophyte at using it. It seems quite powerful, but I will use the tools to which I am accustomed at the moment. The greatest advantage to Panopto is that one can add in questions at waypoints in the video.

Stacey Lowery Bretz at Miami University compiled a curated list of online chemistry & biochemistry animations, videos, simulations & demos that can support remote/online instruction. Here is a link to her tweet about it. The downloadable document is available on her research group website

And don't worry, VIPEr is already part of the curated list! 

There is also a list actively being prepared where chemistry educators are sharing details about their courses and the stategies they are going to try for remote/online instruction. Here's the google sheet. Feel free to add your own efforts as a way to disseminate strategies!

Are you looking into using Zoom? Here's a handy walk through posted on Twitter with helpful sceenshots walking through how to use, record, etc.

In the past I've used Doceri (my university has a subscription) to record short videos of annotated slides, showing the steps of how to solve problems. I used the Doceri app on my iPad to annote the slides and record the video then used HandBreak to compress and convert the videos to mp4 files before uploading to my LMS.  

Check out this useful graphic describing more advice for moving instruction online by Alison Flynn from the University of Ottawa! Her research website also includes a growing list of resources for thinking about moving from face-to-face to online. 

First let me acknowledge that what I am doing is triage and not online teaching. I have the deepest respect for those of you who teach online. But, with help from several colleagues and many of you, I'm reasonably happy with my first attempts at screen capture videos. Here's my combo:

  1. Google Slides (I converted my PowerPoints)
  2. Google Slides automatic closed captioning (works surprisingly well, but not "professional grade")
  3. Shift-Command-5 on Mac (Mojave or later) to screen capture
  4. Upload to Google Drive for student access (with links on LMS)

It took several tries to figure everything out (getting right combo of hardware and software). Happy to help!

My librarian reported that jove videos are available online for free during the outbreak. Some of these might be helpful for lab.

Video #2 from HMC prof Gary Evans on setting up YouTube livestreams is live.

All the videos are here.

Hi all,

I wanted to make two suggestions (coming from my colleague Sarah Tasker) to try to make up for the lack of human interaction that comes with a switch to online classes. 

1. Our department will have an "always on" web meeting called "Chemistry study lounge". We hope this will provide our majors with a space where they can work together virtually and have informal interactions with faculty. The idea is that you would "hang out" in the meeting like having your office door open.

2. Assigned "accountabil-a-buddies". Small groups of students will be asked to work together on a few homework problems, just to ensure that they have some peer contact and discussion about the course material.

 

 

Many of these are very good. You should check them out. (This is about the Jove videos.)

Among the zillions of resources out there, this resource from ACUE is by far the best general resource for moving online that I've seen.

Hi Everyone. I have been teaching all of my chemistry courses including inorganic chem online and 100% virtually for the past 4 years. If anyone needs tips, advice or even a brainstorm session please let me know. I have used panopto quite a bit and would be happy to provide a tutorial, along with other video recording tools, screensharing tools, handling lab instruction online (yes, my students actually have physicals experiments to complete), online projects, working 1:1 with students, and everything in between. Feel free to write your questions below.

Kathleen,

Could you give us a short summary of how you handle lab?

 

I've created this collection of virtual lab experimens with data. It currently has 3 labs and a video. I'll be uploading a 4th lab in the next day or so and will add it to the collection. If you have lab data and want to make it available on an experiment on VIPEr, put the data in the "Faculty Only" files section and let me or a member of the LC know and we can add it to this collection.

Hi All!  My apologies for the delay in my response. I have used two different companies to get at home science kits mailed to my students' homes.  First is Carolina Biologicals and the second is Hands On Labs (HOL).  There are other services out there as well such as eScience and Flinn Scientific that offer kits.  Our kits are desinged for intro level, and general chemistry I and II courses, but we also use them for other program such as biology, earth science, physics, etc.  We currently use HOL as they do have a cloud based lab portal for students to  get instructions, input data, answer questions, submit reports, etc.  I tihnk Carolina is currently working on their cloud system. The portal is pretty straightforward to get in to grade work and its pretty user friendly for students as well.  The kits themselves are pretty robust for an entry level course.  They do provide basic glassware, equipment and chemicals, with a packing list, but there are some things that need to be student provided and we provide that information for students in the course material.  PPE is also included in the kit and a safety demonstration is required as the first lesson in the portal.  Since these are at home experiments, these are mosty small scale eqperiments, usng chemicals in low concentrations for any solutions, small amounts, and things that can be properly disposed of at home.  The kits are customizable for courses but you would need to work with a rep at each comparny to do that.   As we get to our advanced chemistry courses, we use more virtual labs for students to collect data and simulations to learn specific topics.   I would be happy to provide more help with these kits or give a demo on what they look like if anyone is interested.                 

I just added some comments below.  Thanks for the question!