A guide to technology for ACS-sponsored Collaborative Curricula Projects

 

Questions to think about as you write a proposal that involves remote teaching

 

Your proposal should address all these questions. We offer some potential solutions to get you started, but you’re free to find others.

  1. Where will you hold classes? See Classroom Options below.
  2. How will you deliver your lectures, discussions, and exercises to remote students? See Videoconferencing Options below.
  3. How will you distribute course material, receive assignments, and disseminate comments on assignments and grades? See Learning Management Systems and Electronic Media below.
  4. How will you collaborate with your off-campus partners? See Communications below.

Classroom options

  1. Your normal classroom. Many ACS colleges can set up a big-screen TV, camera, and videoconferencing software on a “rolling cart.” But some can’t.
  2. Seminar rooms with dedicated videoconferencing equipment. Only a few ACS colleges have these, but you should consider reserving one if it is available.
  3. Advanced “wired” learning spaces. A few ACS colleges have facilities that allow local and remote students to interact via computers and the internet with each other in sophisticated ways. Using these classrooms typically requires training in advance. However, if available, these spaces provide a high level technological capability.

Videoconferencing

The core technological capability for most ACS-funded projects will be straightforward videoconferencing, meaning two-way video communication via the web. It requires cameras, microphones, and videoconferencing software at both (or all, if there are multiple) ends of the conversation. Videoconferencing software has become cheap, reliable, and user-friendly, but you still will need to try it out beforehand.

Most colleges already provide two or more videoconferencing options such as

  • Skype
  • Google Hangouts
  • Zoom

These products offer various features, such as the ability for a lecturer to display notes on the screen instead of her face. You should think about how you will run your class and determine the features that you will need. We can help you decide which software will work best.

Learning Management Systems and Electronic Media

Not all ACS colleges have the same learning management system (LMS, e.g., Moodle or Blackboard), so you may need to be flexible about how you disseminate and receive information to and from students.

For example, you should assume that it will not be practical to use your learning management system to offer tests or receive essays. You will have to provide other options, or design your course(s) so that they do not depend on any particular LMS. These might include:

  • Dropbox – a free service that allows you to upload and share documents (such as .pdf and Word files), images, and videos via the web
  • Google Drive – another free service for sharing documents

 

Communications

Your proposal should include a plan for using communication technology to collaborate with your off-campus partner(s). That could simply be an agreement between you to use teleconferencing/videoconferencing, email, and file-sharing ( e.g., Dropbox and Google Drive).