There are many options for giving materials to your students. Which you use will depend in part on the methods you’ve chosen for structuring your class. For example, if you’ve decided to have live videoconference sessions at your regular class time, you may be delivering the lectures you’d already planned through a different medium. If you’ve decided not to do videoconferencing, you may be seeking another way to provide the content you normally would in face-to-face classes. Either way, you probably still need to assign out-of-class readings or viewings. We’ll start with distributing materials to students and move to videos and lecturing.
- Distributing Materials
- Videos: Online Resources and Original Content
- Videoconference Lecturing
Distributing Readings, Lecture Notes, and Slides
The most streamlined way to distribute course materials is via Canvas. Many faculty already do this. Canvas can accommodate any kind of file upload: PDFs, Office documents, slides, images, videos, and audio. You can upload items in Canvas through the Files section, Modules (which is easier to navigate), or as attachments to Assignments and Discussions. For asynchronous classes, attaching readings to an Assignment or Discussion with a due date and a reflection prompt or questions can be the easiest way for students to know what to read, and to respond to it. See information about creating Assignments on our COVID-19 Continuity: Assignments page, and creating Discussions on our COVID-19 Continuity: Activities and Discussions Page.
You can also link easily to items in your Google Drive using Modules. Modules can also be used to organize files, which is generally the easiest way to make materials navigable for students. We are preparing a template you can use to arrange materials, discussions, and assignments in Modules.
If you need to upload many files, the most efficient strategy is to use Files. Please make sure the files are clearly named, and that you make the Files section visible to students if you upload files this way. Certain types of files can be directly embedded in Pages if you choose to create content that way. Please consult the CLT for more information.
You may be realizing that some of your students do not have access to their textbooks or course reserve texts normally provided by the Library. Library staff are working to acquire ebooks and develop electronic course reserves. See their Library Continuity FAQs and Resources page. From Emily Crist, Director of the Library (3/16/20):
The library is working hard to provide digital access to your course texts. Please contact email@example.com if you are not already in touch with the library about your materials. We are attempting to purchase electronic copies of your texts. If they are unavailable, we are providing scanning services to digitize physical materials as electronic course reserves. We ask that you prioritize your requests for digitization, as we have some limits due to copyright and fair use as well as library staff’s scope. We will do our best to make your texts available and accessible.
In addition to delivering readings, please consider the following accessibility notes, from the Office of Accessibility.
There are students who use text-to-speech software to access the assigned reading material. Unfortunately, most PDF’s are not accessible to text-to-speech software. To ensure the PDF’s that you use in your course are accessible, please run them through Adobe Acrobat DC’s Scan & OCR program. Champlain College’s Information Systems department has the Adobe Creative Suite available for all staff and faculty on campus if you do not already have access. Click here for instructions on how to create accessible PDF’s. Please contact the Office of Accessibility if you have any questions or if you need assistance with your course reading material.
Questions about accessible materials should go to Erin Ferrara and Anna Kreigh at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Library may also be able to assist you with finding accessible PDFs of articles.
Videos: Online Resources and Original Content
Creating your own lecture videos is a great strategy for delivering content. However, this can be time-consuming, especially if you are new to recording videos. Studies also show that video lectures are best kept short, under 20 minutes. Fortunately, in many subject areas there are excellent videos already online. Here are some considerations.
Looking for existing videos online
- Identify videos with accurate, clearly explained content. Keep in mind that you may find great content from non-academic sources, like TED Talks, explainer channels on YouTube, documentaries, and news stories.
- Look for documentaries and films through the Library, which subscribes to free educational streaming services that carry documentaries and instructional videos for a range of disciplines. A list of services is available here.
- Avoid materials longer than a TED Talk (roughly 20 minutes). Shorter videos are better.
- You may also want to consider audio options, such as podcasts and radio segments.
- Choose videos with closed captioning. Most YouTube videos are auto-captioned, meaning they have captions that are at least mostly accurate. Captions are useful for everyone, but you should definitely check their general accuracy if you have students with disability accommodations related to captioning.
The Office of Accessibility reminds you of the following legal requirements for video and audio content if you have students with accommodations related to their hearing and vision disabilities:
All audio clips or podcasts will need to be accompanied by a transcription. Similarly, all videos posted on Canvas will need to be closed captioned or accompanied by a transcription. While many online videos are closed captioned, you should make sure the captions are 100% accurate by playing the video and reading the captions. If you need assistance with captioning or providing a transcript, please contact our office.
These requirements also apply to original video and audio you might produce.
Creating Original Video and Audio
You have the option of creating your own video and audio content, or using original content you may have already made (such as recordings of lectures from previous terms). Unfortunately, the CLT does not have the capacity right now to provide comprehensive instruction on producing video and audio, nor are we able to assist you with recording. However, we can provide some suggestions if you want to undertake this yourself.
- You do not need a specialized camera or recorder to make videos! You can use your smartphone or (in most cases) your computer. Podcasting apps may help. Remember, you are going for adequate quality, not perfection!
- As with videos you find online, make every effort to limit the length. In addition to the advantages of shorter videos for keeping your students’ attention, shorter videos equal smaller and more manageable files. Identify natural breaking points in your lectures, and consider asking students to participate in a discussion forum between watching videos.
- While it’s possible to record or upload videos directly in Canvas, it’s better to upload videos to YouTube using your Champlain account. Students may have an easier time playing them, and YouTube will produce automatic captions. You can easily link to these videos in Canvas or embed them in Assignments and Discussions.
- Audio can be uploaded directly to Canvas. If you have students with accessibility needs, including a transcript is mandatory. The web-based service otter.ai produces high-quality automatic transcripts of any audio or video file as plain text (.txt) files that you can upload to Canvas.
You can also consider additional video types like screencasts (audio over demonstrations recorded on your computer screen) or powerpoints with voiceover. These may substitute for “talking head” lecturing, especially if you want to use visual aids or feel uncomfortable being on video. We provide a tutorial on one screencast recording tool, Screencast-o-Matic, here. It can be used with Google Slides. Microsoft also provides a tutorial for recording a PowerPoint presentation.
You can also produce a video by recording a Google Hangouts Meet videoconference session and adding it to Canvas later.
If you prefer to lecture to a “live” audience and you are planning to hold synchronous class sessions anyway, you can record your lecture while you give it. This is an excellent strategy, because students may have legitimate reasons (caregiving responsibilities, jobs, or time zone differences) for not attending synchronous sessions. Recorded lectures allow students to review later. Please see our tutorial on videoconferencing through Google Hangouts Meet for more information on holding live lectures and recording them.