Start by thinking about your essential course goals. Focusing on the most important elements of what you want your students to learn will help concentrate your efforts and help you make clear decisions about what to alter or adjust.
Review your Course Policies
Review and adjust your course policies as needed, including your policy on attendance, participation, and the late submission of work. You may need to be especially flexible with students under certain circumstances (unstable access to high-speed internet, for instance).
Anticipate Issues of Access and Inclusion, Including Digital Accessibility
Think about how to maintain equal access to course materials, activities, and assignments for students with academic accommodations. The Office of Disability Services can advise faculty on how to ensure equal access during a period of disruption. For more information, please consult the Faculty Guidance for Accommodating Students for Remote Class Administration (Google Document).
The Online Learning Environments Group in the McGraw Center can also offer advice on how to improve digital accessibility.
How do you engage students who don’t have regular or reliable access to high-speed internet?
Audio and video files uploaded through the Kaltura or Panopto tools in Canvas, or through the University’s Media Central website, are automatically transcoded into several levels of quality, optimizing the delivery of these potentially large files to students. When a student views a Kaltura or Panopto video stream from a poor bandwidth connection, it will automatically switch to a low-bandwidth setting.
Nevertheless, Kaltura and Panopto videos are streaming media and are dependent upon a persistent internet connection to view. For that reason, you may choose to provide a downloadable lecture file that has been compressed or is small in size. These include:
- A compressed video file, made at the smallest file size possible in an instructor’s video editing software (QuickTime Player, iMovie, Final Cut X, Adobe Premiere Rush on a Mac; Photos or Adobe Premiere Rush on Windows). Typically this is done by opening an existing video, locating the application’s export settings, and adjusting them to favor lower quality.
- A PowerPoint presentation with recorded narrations, distributed and played back on a student’s own copy of PowerPoint -- this keeps the file size very small while maintaining high-quality images.
- A compressed audio recording (MP3, M4A) distributed alongside a PDF of an instructor’s presentation. This would require the student to manually advance the PDF at appropriate times. As they listen to the audio recording, students would advance the PDF according to verbal cues spoken by the instructor (“As you see on page 10...”).
We also encourage faculty to explore tools that have low-bandwidth requirements, such as your course website’s discussion board or Princeton’s Google Drive.
Communicate Expectations to Students
You will need to clearly communicate your expectations to students and to your AIs as plans for instruction change. Will you adjust assignments or due dates? Will students need to do anything differently to complete or submit those assignments? If you adopt a new instructional format, or if you practice social distancing, how do you expect students to participate or collaborate? What ideas may they have for maintaining the continuity of a course or establishing new forms of participation and presence, even at a distance?
Expectations for Instructional Time During a Period of Virtual Instruction
While teaching virtually, faculty should maintain a minimum of two hours of virtual interaction per week with students (pre-recorded videos can fall into this category). Overall, faculty should expect students to engage in 12 hours per week of instructional time, per course. Instructional time includes reading, assignments or other homework that students are expected to complete during the week, as well as additional forms of interaction (for instance, engaging in peer review over email, or engaging in a virtual precept with an AI).
Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities explicitly states that students may not publish, sell, or distribute course-related materials. We advise faculty to remind students of this academic regulation and the potential consequences for violating it. Violations of academic regulations fall under the jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline or the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.
We also advise faculty to safeguard their course-related materials and intellectual property by using Princeton-licensed tools, such as Zoom, Panopto, and Canvas. For instance, if you record a live lecture in Zoom to the cloud, it will automatically be added to a “meeting recordings” folder in Panopto. When you share it with students in Canvas, , students can view it but cannot download it. (The downloading feature is disabled.) Please consult our FieldGuide to Canvas for more information on recording and sharing videos using Panopto.