Faculty FAQs

Pre-Recorded and Live Lectures


I have received an A/V Kit, how do I use it?
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Audio Video Kits


The following documents provide instruction for setting up and using your recording kits:

Further support for the A/V kits will be provided by department SCAD members or by requesting a consultation with one of McGraw's video producers. 

This KB-article gives an overview of the Technology Loaner Program: Audio/video kits for teaching

What video lecture recording assistance is available to faculty?

Faculty are encouraged to schedule a consultation with a video producer through the McGraw Center. That will help us determine the best video production solution for the faculty member. Given capacity, we’ll try to come up with home recording solutions before we recommend a classroom or studio shoot. 

Requests to record in a classroom or the studio may be submitted (either by the McGraw team or the faculty member) through the video production support form on ISS's website. Please note that as of 8/7/20 we have not confirmed which classrooms, if any, might be available for this use. We will post updates here. 

AV kits are expected to be available starting mid-August.  Further information and updates from OIT about the kids with be sent to the departmental SCADs, who also can help faculty order kits.  

The McGraw Center is also offering workshops on best practices for video production and editing, and they are listed on the calendar for faculty programming

What are my options for recording, storing, and sharing videos?

Faculty have several options for recording, storing, and sharing their lecture videos. Below we describe our recommended approach, as it relies on Princeton licensed tools, protect faculty’s intellectual property, and improve accessibility for students. It also accommodate students who do not have reliable high-speed internet access.

Record the video either with your camera’s video feed or via Zoom, store the file on your computer’s hard drive, and upload it to your Blackboard or Canvas course site through Kaltura.


  • You can use video editing applications to further refine a locally stored video file.
  • Every video uploaded to Blackboard or Canvas via Kaltura is closed captioned and auto-transcribed, allowing them to be searched by keyword. Please note that auto-transcription does not have the same accuracy as human transcription.
  • Videos uploaded via Kaltura will adjust to the viewer’s bandwidth. If a student has a slow internet connection, the video player will automatically switch to a low-bandwidth setting.
  • Recordings uploaded to Kaltura currently have unlimited retention.

Potential downside:

  • Storage may be limited on your hard drive. You may reduce this problem by compressing the video file (please see the FAQ "How do I Compress My Video" below). You can also free up capacity on your hard drive by uploading the original file to one of the cloud services offered by Princeton: Google Drive (unlimited storage), OneDrive (1 Terabyte storage), DropBox (1 Terabyte storage).


    How do I compress my videos?

    Depending on the method of recording, video files can reach very large file sizes. It is possible to compress a video file in a way that greatly reduces its file size, while making only a modest reduction in quality. When sharing a video with others, it is usually the compressed version of a video that is shared. The original full-quality video is kept for archival purposes or later editing.

    If a video file is over 2 gigabytes in size, it will be necessary to compress it below 2 gigabytes in order to upload it to Kaltura within Blackboard or Canvas. To do this:

    • Open your video file in a video editing application (QuickTime Player, iMovie, Final Cut X, Adobe Premiere Rush on a Mac; Photos or Adobe Premiere Rush on Windows) and locate that application’s export or sharing settings. In these settings, make adjustments to the video’s Quality and Resolution settings to favor a lower quality. If a Video Format option is presented, choose MP4. If a Video Codec option is presented, choose H.264. In some applications, you will see an estimated file size while you adjust these settings. Compare this estimated file size with your original video’s file size for an indication of how much compression you will be applying.
    I prefer to upload my recorded lecture to YouTube; is that ok?

    We advise faculty to use Princeton-licensed tools, such as Zoom, Blackboard, Canvas, and Princeton Google Drive, to protect your intellectual property.

    Class Activities

    What process should I follow if I want to send my students materials or kits for use at home?

    E-mail a proposal to  ehs@princeton.edu with “Remote Learning Review” in the subject line.

    Each proposal should include the following information:

    • What Materials will be shipped?
    • Where will the Materials be shipped? (If on-campus, provide the name of each dorm. If off-campus, name each state/country where it will be sent.)
    • How will the Materials be shipped? (For example, directly from the manufacturer or from the department)?
    • What training and instructions will be provided to the intended recipients and how will these instructions and training materials be communicated?
    • Will the Materials generate waste or other byproduct material that require disposed and if so, how will disposal be handled?
    • Will the recipients be required to ship back the Materials at the completion of the program or class?  If not, are any special disposal steps required?

    Review Process: Upon receipt of your proposal, the Remote Learning Review committee will review the proposal and may request additional information and/or clarification.  They will do their best to respond within a short timeframe. 

    Assumption of Risk and Release: If your proposal is approved, you will be required to have each student/participant sign an Assumption of Risk and Release form that has been developed by the committee before the Materials are sent to the participant.  Students/participants who do not sign the form should not be sent the Materials.

     Once approved, your department undergraduate administrator should insert the following language under “Other Information” in the course listing: “Equipment/supplies/materials will be sent to students to complete this course.  Students will need to sign an Assumption of Risk and Release form to receive these equipment/supplies/materials.”

    How do I substitute for a precept that normally uses artifacts in the museum or the archives?

    The Art Museum creates digital collections for courses and makes them available to faculty and students through Blackboard. Individual images of Museum objects can also be found on the Art Museum website at https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/search/collections. If you would like a collection created for your course, contact Veronica White at vmwhite@princeton.edu. Library resources that have been digitized are available in the Digital PUL.

    Images from sources other than the Princeton Art Museum or Library can be shared in PowerPoint presentations that are uploaded and shared with students, or can be added to a shared file repository. If you use Blackboard, it may be tempting to upload images into the Course Files area of your course site. While it is quite easy to upload files - even large batches of files - into the Files area, that part of the site is accessible only for instructors and teaching assistants, not students. It may be more efficient to use an external file sharing service such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. With either platform, you can share folders of images and other materials with students and control access to those files via permissions settings.

    Are there suggested methods for continuing active lab experiments that require students to record their observations?

    Depending on the level of sophistication required, we recommend several approaches. Lower-tech approaches include mounting an iPad on a tripod, activating the time-lapse setting on the camera, and recording or transmitting the visual data. Higher-tech approaches include Motif, a system created to record experiments remotely. Motif includes features that allow you to remotely control lighting, focus, etc.  A do-it-yourself version can be found here as well:  (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/596106v3.full).

    How do I “virtualize” a dance or other embodied practice course?

    We empathize with this challenge. Certain digital tools, however, can be particularly helpful: web conferencing tools (like Zoom) can be used to organize group meetings, run rehearsals, or record short tutorials; file sharing services like Google Drive or OneDrive allow students to submit recordings of their work for faculty review and students’ responses; VoiceThread allows students and faculty to add text, audio, and video annotations and feedback on work submitted in various formats. Annotations on audio and video can be tied to specific times in the playback. You can also comment on video recordings uploaded to the Kaltura tool in Blackboard or Canvas. Comments can include time-coded links to specific points in the video.

    We encourage faculty to consult several external resources: 

    • The Dance Studies Association’s resources for moving dance pedagogy online; 
    • The Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s open-source resource for teaching performance-related disciplines online
    Why should I use Zoom breakout rooms?

    Faculty report to us that breakout rooms can help create a sense of community and social interconnectedness among students. They allow students to interact more comfortably and effectively with each other than in a full Zoom meeting, and they foster active learning environments with more horizontal and collaborative teaching that are similar to small group in-person activities. They enable students to engage with the material and practice skills in new formats and creative ways. Dividing students into smaller groups or pairs can also be a helpful way to break up longer classes on Zoom. For more specific suggestions on using Zoom breakout rooms, see this guidance


    What pedagogical goals might Zoom breakout rooms help to support?

    As some broad categories, faculty have used Zoom breakout rooms to foster discussion and collaboration amongst students and also to offer students opportunities to practice new skills either individually or collaboratively. For more tips on how breakout rooms can help meet these goals, see this guide.

    Grading and Assessment

    How do I prepare a midterm or final exam or assessment this semester?

    We encourage faculty to consult our guidance on preparing and administering exams and assessments in an online environment.

    Should I rethink my participation grade, and how?

    Yes, you should rethink participation in several ways as you transition your class to a virtual space. Keep in mind that students will likely engage your course from different time zones, with varying access to quiet spaces and stable internet connections. If you choose to have synchronous (real-time) meetings, you will need a participation mechanism for those who cannot attend at those times, such as, among other possibilities, a discussion board on your course website, with structured prompts. 

    Also consider that it may be even more challenging for students to get speaking time in a precept or seminar conversation on Zoom. We encourage you to engage the full range of interactive features in Zoom, as well as to use asynchronous assignments. You may choose to grade all three (Zoom discussion, chat/poll participation, and discussion board posts) to arrive at a participation grade.

    Once you clarify what participation means in this new environment, you may want to adjust the weight of participation in the course grade. Either way, you’ll need to communicate clearly to students as soon as possible about what you’ve decided so they know how to meet this important course requirement. 

    In-Person Graduate Courses


    What are the guidelines for the safe use of classrooms for in-person graduate courses?

    As you prepare to teach this semester, we ask you to review the following guidance on the safe use of classrooms. Your classroom will be cleaned before and after your use, but we ask for your help in maintaining it as a safe environment.


    • Use designated classroom entrances, exits, and walkways, maintaining a 6’ distance between you and your students.
    • Wear a mask inside, even when speaking or at a distance from your students.
    • Remind students to sit only in designated seats. Students should maintain a 8’ distance between one other when seated.
    • Do not move furniture.
    • Minimize your and your students’ movement within the classroom.
    • Bring your own markers/erasers from your department if you wish to use a whiteboard (chalk will be replaced between classes).
    • Use hand sanitizer on your hands before and after you use AV equipment (by request, Environmental Health and Safety can supply your classroom with hand sanitizer).
    • Refrain from handing out materials to students during class.
    • Do not bring or permit food or drink in classrooms.
    • Please report any problems with your classroom to the Facilities Department.
    How do I teach in a hybrid format?
    1. Option 1: Faculty-directed solution 
      • Faculty will need the following equipment:
        • Laptop computer
        • Laptop camera or small external camera on tripod
        • Laptop microphone or small external microphone
        • In-classroom video monitor
        • To request an A/V kit from OIT, please use the OIT Technology Loaner Program request form 
      • Process:
        • Connect laptop, camera, microphone, and monitor (ensure that you have the proper dongles; contact your SCAD if you do not)
        • Launch Zoom on computer, select needed camera and microphone, and open Zoom meeting
        • Position camera/microphone to capture class
        • Adjust camera as needed to capture blackboard/whiteboard
        • Contact ISS with technical questions (x 8-2000)
        • Advise remote students to contact the OIT help desk for support
    2. Option 2: Technician-supported solution
      • Faculty may request technical support from ISS for hybrid teaching in the following classrooms:
        • BURR HALL 219
        • LEWIS LIBRARY 120
        • LEWIS LIBRARY 138
        • ROBERTSON HALL 100
      • Process:
        • Faculty member will connect laptop to in-classroom system
        • Faculty member will launch Zoom session and ISS technician will connect in-classroom system with audio and video feed
        • In-classroom audio and video will capture class

    Download: How do I teach in a hybrid format (how do I teach residential and remote students simultaneously)?

    Course Administration

    What are best practices for conducting mid-semester evaluations?

    We invite you to read our guidance on conducting a mid-semester evaluation for your course. 

    How do I schedule class meetings in Zoom?

    We recommend that you and your instructional staff schedule your class meetings in your LMS (Learning Management System), whether you are teaching in Canvas or Blackboard. If you schedule meetings outside of LMS, they will not automatically be listed on your course site. Please follow these steps to schedule class meetings in Canvas or Blackboard.

    Step 1: Pre-work

    Make sure your Zoom account is activated by following the directions in this help article.

    Step 2: Access Zoom inside your course site (Blackboard or Canvas)

    Blackboard: Use either Option 1 or Option 2 in this help article to add Zoom to your Blackboard course.

    Canvas: All course sites in Canvas have been created with Zoom in the left navigation bar.

    Step 3: Schedule your class meetings

    Blackboard: Follow the steps in this help article to schedule Zoom class meetings in Blackboard.

    Canvas: Click the “Schedule a New Meeting” button in the top right corner. Complete each of the fields, and click “Save.” Once the meeting configuration has been saved, an informational screen with all the meeting information will be displayed. All members of the course can see a list of scheduled Zoom sessions by accessing the Zoom link in the left navigation bar. A sample is shown below.

    Helpful tip:

    • Instructors and TAs can schedule meetings within a course site using these steps. This means that each TA will need to set up their own precept meetings by following the steps above. If multiple TAs schedule meetings, please use a standard naming convention to avoid confusion (e.g. “Monday 11 am Lecture,” “Tuesday 2 pm Precept Anna”).
    • If you’re interested in tracking the attendance, check “require registration” in the meeting configuration page. That’ll force the participants to type their name and email address, which will be recorded on the Zoom server. You can later log into your Zoom account at zoom.princeton.edu and have each meeting’s report generated.

    Please note: If you are getting an error message when trying to access Zoom within the LMS it is most likely because you are using an alias to access the LMS. To fix that, contact Blackboard support (blackboard@princeton.edu) or by adding your Net ID as the email address to your Canvas account.

    Zoom sessions are not automatically added to the Canvas calendar.

    Security settings: Please follow these recommendations Zoom: Video Conferencing – Security and Privacy Best Practices.


    How do I provide access to my course to non-enrolled students in the add/drop period during the first two weeks of classes?

    We advise faculty to make their course websites, or sections of their course websites, visible to non-enrolled students in the add/drop period during the first two weeks of classes.  We also recommend that you invite students to participate in “live” Zoom class sessions, while following OIT’s recommendations for ensuring the privacy and security of those sessions.  You can also share pre-recorded lectures with non-enrolled and enrolled students via your course website.

    In Blackboard: New courses are by default created with “guest access” available, which means that non-enrolled students can see the Syllabus, Announcements, and Reading List. If you would like non-enrolled students to access live Zoom meetings, we recommend you post the information about them, including links to the sessions, as an Announcement, and applying date restrictions when you create it. This will ensure that non-enrolled students no longer have access to that information when the add/drop period expires on September 11.

    If you have a recorded video you want to make available, go to Course Materials > Build Content > Kaltura Media and upload the video to Kaltura. Once the video is uploaded to Kaltura, create an Announcement and embed the video there by selecting Mashups from the content editor, then selecting Kaltura, which will allow you to select the video you added to Kaltura. Don’t forget to apply date restrictions.  

    In Canvas: For the course to be viewable to a student logged into Canvas with their NetID, the instructor should first publish the course, and then go to settings and set visibility to Institution, and finally include the course in the public course index. By default, all Canvas courses are set up with Zoom in the navigation menu. Any unpublished content in the course will not be visible to students (whether enrolled or not). Full instructions can be found in the Field Guide to Canvas.

    In either Blackboard or Canvas, you should remove guest access to your course after the add/drop period.


    Should faculty conduct classes at their scheduled times?

    Faculty who choose to conduct real-time or live (“synchronous”) class sessions must begin and end class at their normally scheduled times. In addition, we strongly encourage faculty to provide direct instruction in an “asynchronous” format (e.g., a recording of a real-time session) that students -- including students living in different time zones or without stable high speed internet access -- can access at any time. We also strongly encourage faculty and AIs who are conducting real-time precepts to create supplemental means of engagement, such as a discussion board on your course website, for students who cannot participate in “live” sessions. 

    What measures can faculty take to prevent students from distributing course materials that are posted online?

    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 (undergraduates) and the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School (graduate students). 

    We also advise faculty to safeguard their course-related materials and intellectual property by using Princeton-licensed tools, such as Zoom, Blackboard, and Canvas. For instance, if you record a live lecture in Zoom, upload it to Kaltura, and post it on Blackboard (or Canvas), students can view it but cannot download it. (The downloading feature is disabled.) 

    I’m concerned about my students not having reliable or regular access to high-speed internet. What teaching options do I have?

    Please ask your students to consult OIT's "Technology Resources FAQ for Undergraduate Students" or "Technology Resources FAQ for Graduate Students" for help with bandwidth problems.  

    We also encourage faculty to explore digital tools with “low-bandwidth” requirements. These are often “asynchronous” (not real-time) tools, such as your course website’s discussion board or Google Drive. Audio and video files can often get quite large; media files uploaded through the Kaltura tool in Blackboard or 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.

    Recommendations for adding back-up Instructors to Blackboard course sites
    1. Access the Add Misc. User tool located in the Course Control Panel under Course Tools.
    2. Enter either the backup instructor's NetID and email address, or enter their name and click the Look Up button.  
    3. For role, select “Instructional Staff.” 
    4. For status, select “User will be editing/managing/teaching, but will not be officially associated with the course in PeopleSoft." This will allow the back-up instructor to have the same privileges as the instructor of record.

    Digital Tools

    What are some options for polling applications and how do they compare?

    Faculty have a number of options for polling applications, including Mentimeter, Poll Everywhere, and iClicker Cloud/Reef. This table provides an overview of their features and how to use them.

    What are some options for whiteboard applications and how to they compare?

    Faculty have a number of options for whiteboard applications, including Mural, Jamboard, and Miro. This table provides an overview of their features and how to use them.

    What is Zoom, and how do I access it? What are its features, including its interactive features?

    Zoom is an audio and video conferencing tool that is available to all Princeton users. It can be accessed through your course site in Blackboard or Canvas, or by going directly to https://princeton.zoom.us/ and signing in using your Princeton credentials.

    Zoom has several interactive features, which are described in the following table.

    How do I use Zoom breakout rooms effectively?

    When using breakout rooms, it is helpful to define the purpose of the breakout group for both yourself and for your students, share clearly the specific task to complete that will help to achieve that goal, think carefully about group size and the time that will lend itself best to the activity, and then give a clear time frame of the breakout rooms to students (3 minutes? 15 minutes?). For more suggestions on different uses of breakout rooms please see this guidance.

    I am frustrated with the limitations of Zoom breakout rooms. What solutions might there be?

    While Zoom breakout rooms can be a wonderful tool to create small group activities, faculty often note that they do feel different than breaking students into small groups in physical classrooms. For instance, an instructor cannot passively “overhear” groups from a distance--groups leave the main room, and faculty must visit each individually. One approach is to ask them to work in a shared space or document (such as Google docs or a whiteboard space such as Ideaboardz) so that instructors can see their progress. Some faculty report that the quiet space of a breakout room for individual work can also be productive, and that students may feel more comfortable working briefly separately from the instructor. It can be helpful to bear in mind these differences and have clear goals and expectations for your class. For more on how to troubleshoot some of the issues that can emerge, please see this guidance for using Zoom breakout rooms. 

    How do I prevent “Zoom-bombing” and other risks to the privacy of my Zoom session?

    We suggest that you take the following steps to enhance the privacy of your Zoom session:

    1. Enable Zoom’s waiting room feature, which allows you to control who is admitted into the session.
    2. Require participants to enter a password in order to join the Zoom session (you should share the password in a direct message to the intended participants). You may also require users to sign in with the email they were invited through before they can join the meeting. 
    3. Lock the meeting after all your attendees have joined. After a meeting has been locked, no new participants can join.
    4. Control who can share a screen in your Zoom session—you may for instance only allow the host to share the screen.
    5. Protect your personal meeting ID by only using it only for private sessions.

    To learn how to enable these features, please see Security & privacy: Zoom-bombing. You may also control your security settings during a session by clicking on the security icon in the horizontal menu bar at the bottom of your Zoom screen.

    How do I draw or illustrate course concepts?

    You can either draw on paper and share with students, or use an iPad with a stylus pen.

    Option 1: Draw on paper with a document camera
    • Document cameras (for faculty members): an inexpensive document camera and a pad of paper can convey the most nuanced detail in real-time
    • These cameras can stand-in for your laptop camera and microphone (the document cameras have an integrated microphone) to be “you” in a Zoom meeting.
    Option 2: Draw on an iPad with a stylus pen

    Use an iPad to annotate a live lecture using Zoom:

    • Connect the iPad to the same wi-fi network as your computer. During Zoom meeting, click “Share” and then select “iPhone/iPad.” If this is your first time sharing an iPad screen on Zoom, you will be prompted to download a plug-in on your computer.
    • When download is complete, swipe down from the top-right corner of your iPad screen and tap “Screen Mirroring” and then select “Zoom-OOO” option. Your iPad screen will appear on Zoom. While the shared screen may look small on your screen, your Zoom participants are viewing the shared iPad in full screen.

    Create a pre-recorded lecture on an iPad

    • Using third party apps, the iPad can be used to create narrated whiteboard-style lecture recordings. This format is useful for those whose teaching involves the use of a blackboard for writing and illustrating course concepts and equations. These apps allow the recording of drawn annotations with accompanying narration, with options to export the resulting session as a video. Useful features include the addition of text and shapes, moving and resizing drawn objects, and importing images for annotation.
    • Tools required:
      • App:
      • Stylus: Any stylus may be used for writing and drawing, but it is highly recommended to use a pressure-sensitive stylus such as the Apple Pencil for increased legibility and precision.
      • Microphone: While it is possible to use the iPad’s built-in microphone for recording, use of a stylus may result in unwanted tapping and writing sounds throughout the recorded audio. With the proper adapter it is possible to connect a USB microphone to the iPad, allowing for distraction-free narration.
      • Compatibility: This is a list of iPads that are compatible with Apple Pencil 1 or Apple Pencil 2 https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT211029
    My department uses Piazza for student interaction. Do you recommend it or should I substitute another tool?

    Piazza is no longer a recommended tool, given concerns with its sale and use of student data. We recommend that faculty use Ed Discussion instead, which is an approved vendor for Princeton University. Ed Discussion is integrated with Blackboard and Canvas. Here is a quick start guide to Ed Discussion, courtesy of Harvard University. 

    What kinds of digital tools can I use for students to conduct peer review of one another’s work?

    One possibility is a shared file service, such as Google Drive or OneDrive. You can create a folder in either drive and share it with your students via a link. You can also set the level of student access to these folders. We recommend that if you give students the opportunity to edit documents in folders, you set guidelines for doing so.

    If you are teaching in Canvas, you can create a peer review assignment, enabling students to provide feedback on another student’s assignment submission. The following help article will explain how to create peer review assignments in Canvas.   

    Applications such as VoiceThread offer another possibility. VoiceThread allows students (and faculty) to annotate and provide audio feedback on work submitted in various formats (typically in the format of a slideshow). Multiple reviewers can provide recorded feedback for the work’s creator to review and reflect on. The University is in the process of purchasing a site license for this particular app; please check back for more details. 

    How do I get additional help with digital tools and virtual teaching?

    You can get additional support for virtual teaching from the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, the Council for Science and Technology, the Center for Language Study, and the Princeton Library.

    How do I access University resources remotely?

    Certain University resources (such as the Library) require a secure connection called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The easiest way is to connect through Princeton's new VPN service Global Protect, which allows you to directly access several resources including the Library. Here is how to connect:

    1. Visit the GlobalProtect web portal
    2. Enter your Princeton NetID, your password, and click Log in
    3. The system will send a Duo request to your default device. Approve the Duo request. 
    4. The GlobalProtect portal page displays with “tiles” for the set of protected applications accessible through the portal. Click the tile for the application you want to access.

    The legacy VPN service SonicWall SRA will still continue to be supported, but faculty are strongly encouraged to use GlobalProtect.

    I would like to borrow or purchase a laptop. Where do I find more information or access resources?

    Please consult OIT’s “working continuity” guidance for more information on borrowing or purchasing equipment.