Tips for Teaching Virtually

I’m an instructional designer specializing in higher education and online instruction, and here is my offer of help. I have a little bandwidth to spare at the moment and I never imagined there would be such a thing as a “national instructional design emergency.” But here we are, and here I am.

 If you’re an instructor who has just found out that all of your teaching for the rest of the semester is moving online and you have no idea where to go or what to do, these are my tips.

Steve Weidner, Senior Instructional Technologist at UNYCC’s New York Chiropractic College

First off, look locally. Look and see what resources your institution has posted. If you’ve never sought out their help, find your campus’s support staff. We call them variations on the same theme: “Academy for Teaching Excellence”, “Center for Learning and Teaching”, “Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning”, “Office of Digital Learning”, “Innovative Learning”. They may or may not be the same folks that do your Blackboard/Canvas/D2L/other LMS support. They’ve likely sent you a bunch of emails about emergency seminars that they’ll be running about moving online that you’ve missed in the panic. Breathe. Take a moment. Go to one of their seminars.

Buy a USB microphone. Now. Seriously. If there is one easily identifiable potential failure point in live teaching or recording lectures, it’s your audio. I like the Blue Snowball (Amazon link). It’s been in production for 15 years or so. It’s a solid mic. But pretty much any USB lavalier, microphone, or headset is likely better than what’s on your laptop.

If your campus doesn’t have local resources up and running yet, check out this site from Indiana University.  I and a number of my colleagues are shamelessly cribbing from it while we create our own localized versions. It’s a good ‘un. Mad props to the IU team.

If you’re looking for broader tips about teaching online from people who actually do it, here are a couple of twitter threads and articles I recommend:

Dr. Ryan Straight’s advice; more on the technical side of things. The three links I pulled from his thread are:

AND THIS. READ THIS The title is a bit inflammatory, but the advice might be some of the most important you get.

If this isn’t doing it for you, or if your local resources are overwhelmed, or you have some weird academic need that you can’t imagine how in the world to migrate it online, there is the Instructional Design Emergency Response Network where you can request help and other IDs who have available time can offer their assistance. Their signup sheet is here. You can find them on Twitter at @id_erNet.

If we’ve ever met or worked together before, or you even recognize my name, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help. If you know people who could use this information, please share it. If you happen to be an ID who needs to burn off some caffeine after you’ve already covered your local needs, sign up with the IDERN. And to everyone dealing with this, I’ll close with the following: