FurmanFlex Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty

Please find below answers to some of the most frequently asked questions faculty have about how the University’s response to COVID-19 will impact University learning activities.

If you have a question about FurmanFlex or Online learning activities and instruction:

  1. Please first consult the FAQ below, our website material, or the University Furman Focused webpage for an answer to your question;
  2. If your question isn’t answered in one of these places, consider contacting a member of our FurmanFlex Consultation Corps;
  3. If you still need additional guidance or would like to crowd-source information from our community, consider reviewing posts and/or posting your FurmanFlex or Online instructional inquiry here or, as a final step, contact your department chair, your Strategic Academic Redesign Team (SART) liaison, or the relevant University administrator.

This page is evolving, and will updated periodically.

I. University Operations & Policies

I.1 What is the difference between Online and FurmanFlex Courses?

If your course has a physical location, you have a FurmanFlexcourse. 

If your course does NOT have a physical location, you have an Online course. 

If you are teaching a FurmanFlexcourse, you can expect the following: 

  • A portion of students will attend face to face at the scheduled class time: F2F Students 
  • A portion of students will participate in your class remotely throughout the semester: Remote Students 
  • Students may shift between F2F and Remote designations throughout the semester as circumstances dictate. 
  • Course design and instructional delivery must include equitable learning opportunities for both groups of students (F2F and Remote) for the duration of the semester. See one example of new classroom technology in Hipp Hall in  this video! 

Who might Remote Students be? 

  • Sophomores and Juniors (at least until Monday, September 14). 
  • Students with concerns and/or circumstances preventing a return to campus 
  • International students 
  • Students in quarantine 

If you are teaching an Online course, you can expect the following: 

  •         Class will be taught online for the duration of the semester. 
  •         Per feedback from faculty and students, you should strive for synchronous course interactions to maximize engagement
  •         A portion of your students will be living on campus
  •         A portion of your students will be living elsewhere
I.2 What are the current policies about who can be on campus and for what purposes?

For the latest information about campus life and activitiesmajor campus events and campus visitors please visit the Furman Focused website.

I.3 How should I approach attendance and participation in my FurmanFlex or Online courses?

Instructors are encouraged to design attendance policies that take into account the unusual conditions impacting instruction during Fall 2020. These policies must be explicitly stated in the course syllabus and explained orally to each class at the beginning of term. All absence policies must stress the need for students to stay away from the classroom if they are unwell; instructors should remind students of the health and safety measures required by the Paladin Promise.  

The following guidelines should be considered in effect unless otherwise stated in the course syllabus: Freshman will be withdrawn from a course if absent, for any reason, 15 percent of the class meetings. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors will be withdrawn from a course if absent 25 percent of the class meetings. In both cases, a failing (F) grade will be recorded unless the absences were due to providential reasons, in which cases a withdrawal (W) grade may be assigned after consultation with the Associate Academic Dean. 

You might elect to include other virtual elements of engagement as a part of your attendance policy, either for online or FurmanFlex courses. This might include records of online activity completion –Moodle allows you to set up minimum “activity completion” standards for each activity (forum posting, assignment submission, reading, etc.) or activities like group chats or one-on-one virtual meetings.

Attendance is not the same as participation, however, which is often where a rubric comes in handy to provide clear information to students about how their level of course engagement will be assessed, especially if this is part of the course grade. If you do include virtual activity participation in your assessment of course participation, consider how you might assess this in an online space. For example, if a portion of your participation assessment involves completing online forum discussion posts, you’d want to develop a pretty clear policy for how participation is assessed in an online forum. 

I.4 What are current policies about final examinations and culminating projects?

All Furman courses should conclude each term with a final examination or other culminating experience. Exceptions must be approved by the appropriate department chair and the Associate Academic Dean. Any instructor who wishes to administer the final examination at a time other than the one specified on the final exam schedule must secure the approval of the department chair and the Associate Academic Dean. Faculty members teaching two or more sections of the same course may allow students to complete the exam with either section at their discretion, but may not require students to do so. Students are expected to complete examinations when scheduled. However, no student will be expected to complete three scheduled final exams on the same day and may seek a scheduling exception in this circumstance.  

Exceptions, which must be approved by the Associate Academic Dean, are granted only in cases of extreme extenuating circumstances. Final exam scheduling exceptions are normally not granted for reasons related to family or personal travel or to accommodate for perceived difficulty. Faculty who conclude their courses with an assignment other than a final exam are required to set the due date for that assignment during the final exam period, rather than during the final week of classes.  

I.5 What is the status of Study Away Programs?

All fall 2020 study away programs have been cancelled. The Study Away Safety and Compliance and Assessment of Risk Committee along with other stakeholders will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments in the United States and globally, with the goal of making a decision about the viability of Spring 2021 Study away programs by the end of September 2020. For immediate questions about study away, please contact Nancy Georgiev.

I.6 Should I forward my voicemail to my home phone if I will not be on campus?

You should not forward your office extension to any external numbers. These forwards can tie up limited lines, interrupt, or limit the use of on-campus communications, including emergency services. Instead, ITS recommends that you change your voicemail greeting to let individuals know you are working remotely.   

Please check your voicemail, and do so often, through email rather than dialing into the voicemail system from off-campus or via cell phones. You should only dial into the voicemail system from off-campus if you are temporarily unable to get your voicemail via email. 

Instructions for Changing your Greeting: 

  1. Changing your greeting does require dialing into the system. 
  2. From on-campus, dial extension 3100, 
  3. From off-campus, dial (864) 294-3100 
  • The system will ask for your extension, then your password followed by the # 
  • You can access your greeting by pressing 7, then 1 
  • The system will give you instruction to listen and then record your greeting 

If you need any assistance, please contact the IT Service Center service.center@furman.edu or phones@furman.edu.   

I.7 What are University policies and expectations regarding recording course activities?

Given that likelihood that some of your students may be absent from your courses due to illness or technology access issues, you are encouraged to consider how you can best engage students who are legitimately unable to engage in your synchronous session to participate in your course without falling too far behind. One strategy involves recording portions of your course activities for asynchronous access, although this may not always be pedagogically necessary or appropriate. Decisions about whether to record course activities are solely up to the instructor. 

If you do elect to record all or a portion of your course activities, guidance on promising practices for recording (how to alert your students that you will be recording a portion or all of the class, how to store recordings on box) consult this Promising Practices document.  Zoom video recording to the Cloud is discouraged; however, it may be used when there is not ample time to render the recording on the teaching station and then upload it to box. In this instance, faculty could record to the cloud but would need to save to box within a limited time frame (a matter of days).  

Students are not permitted to record classroom lectures or discussions without either the express written approval of the faculty member teaching the course or an accommodation through the Student Office of Accessibility Resources (SOAR). Qualified students with disabilities that impact their ability to take or read notes may receive an accommodation through the SOAR office that permits them to record lectures for their personal academic use. If the SOAR office determines that recording lectures and classroom discussions is an appropriate accommodation for a student, the recording may be used only for personal academic purposes.     

Neither authorized student-initiated recordings nor any faculty-initiated recordings may be made available to anyone outside of the students enrolled in the class in any fashion, including posting online, email, or through other media without the express written consent of the faculty member responsible for the course. Unauthorized dissemination of any recorded classroom proceedings, including distribution for compensation, is strictly prohibited.

Professors or students who believe that a student or classmate is recording classroom proceedings or using recordings made by the professor either without the professor’s consent or in violation of the specified terms of the agreed-upon academic accommodation plan will submit an incident report through the Associate Academic Dean’s office for review and final determination of whether to bring student conduct charges.

I.8 Do Title IX reporting and response obligations vary by instructional modality?

Reporting obligations for Responsible Employees do not change by instructional modality (e.g. face-to-face, online). If a student or another employee reports concerns involving potential sexual misconduct (including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual harassment or sexual exploitation), you should report that to Melissa Nichols, Title IX and ADA Coordinator, as soon as possible (and in no event more than 24 hours after it is reported to you). If you are unsure whether you are a Responsible Employee or have any questions about reporting, please review this FAQ. 
How can I report concerns if I am not on campus and what happens with a report? 
You can report by sending Melissa Nichols an email or using the online reporting form. Consistent with the way we typically respond to reports, Melissa will reach out to the individual who reported concerns to obtain more information. If they are the potential complainant, Melissa will advise them of their reporting options, assess the need for any accommodations and connect them with resources. As a reminder, absent a safety concern for the Furman community, the decision regarding how to proceed generally belongs to the complainant. If someone wishes to proceed with an investigation and disciplinary process, we will conduct any investigations and any other proceedings remotely if necessary (using Zoom videoconferencing and other technology) unless we are able to do so in person. We will work with students on an individual basis to identify appropriate support resources that may be available to them during this time. The Student Success Coordinators in Student Life can offer support services to students by phone and video conference. The Counseling Center can provide referral services for students and limited counseling services, depending on a student’s physical location. 

I.9 Should I handle student conduct issues differently in online learning platforms?

As our community navigates new virtual or flexible classroom norms, especially with the use of video conferencing, what was once private (e.g. bedroom wall art or decorations) are now suddenly public. You are encouraged to have conversations about netiquette with your students (see a list of issues to discuss in the “Reviewing Netiquette” section here). In particular, it is worth noting that, while freedom of speech protections still exist in online learning settings, anything that would be inappropriate to bring to or display in class is still inappropriate in a virtual classroom. You should immediately address discriminatory or derogatory behavior in remote settings. If a student situates themselves in front of of a sexually explicit photo, for example, you should address this directly (privately through chat if possible) and have them move to a different location. If a student does something more deliberate, such as sharing offensive material during a class time or engages in behavior directed at a specific person, you are expected to stop the behavior at the time it occurs (for example, by muting the video or audio of the student) and report the behavior so it can be handled, either through a Title IX process or through the regular student conduct process. 

I.10 Should bias incidents be reported if they occur in an online setting?

Yes. Furman’s Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT), which is responsible for ensuring that affected students, staff, faculty, and visitors to campus have access to appropriate resources and to facilitate a coordinated campus response to bias-related incidents, is available to respond to any act of intolerance associated with any University-sponsored activity. Bias incidents that occur on campus or online as a part of University activities can be reported by visiting here

I.11 What are the University’s current policies with regard to research with human subjects?

In the context of the rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and to further the efforts of our commitment to keeping the members of our community safe and healthy Furman has suspended any research involving human subjects that require in-person interaction with participants, including those studies that have participants come to campus, until further notice. For more information about this important update, see here. 

I.12 Is there any way for me to access information that has been communicated to students from the University?

In addition to the Furman Focused website, in an effort to streamline communication to students, Student Life has launched a regular email digest to our student body. Because many of you regularly advise and support our students, you may be interested in this information. Now you can access this information in the “Furman Student Life Email Digest Archives” section here. 

I.13 When can I resume travel for conferences and professional activities?

All Furman-sponsored travel for employees is suspended until further notice. Registration or reservations for future travel should be postponed. Exceptions for employees, including any current registration for future travel, require approval from your division’s Vice President (Ken Peterson for Academic Affairs). 

II.14 What is the status of engaged learning activities for Fall 2020?

All off-campus, in-person academic experiences must occur virtually. This includes internships (see below), community engaged learning, service learning, field trips, and other activities that would typically occur as part of a course or as part of an academic department’s offerings. For ideas about how to modify community engaged or service learning experiences, contact Mike Winiski in the Collaborative for Community-Engaged Learning.

Internships occurring in the Fall Term must be completed virtually. This summer we developed a protocol and criteria to evaluate and mitigate risks associated with COVID-19 for Furman students completing internships in person in whole or in part. However, in light of the continued high rate of COVID-19 in the Greenville area, the committee decided that more stringent requirements are necessary to (1) increase the safety of our students, faculty, staff and community partners and to (2) ensure that students can successfully complete their internships without a delayed start or interruption. We realize that this may present challenges for you and your students. Please contact (or urge your students to contact) the Internship Office for assistance with identifying organizations that support virtual internships. If you have concerns about your students’ ability to complete requirements for their major, graduation, or certifications, please contact Beth Pontari.

On-campus undergraduate research, including senior projects, theses and summer projects scheduled to finish in the fall, can occur in personas long as the following conditions are followed:

  1. The research can be conducted while meeting the required physical distancing protocols (i.e., minimum 6 ft distancing in the lab or research area at all times between students and faculty, staff, and students).
  2. The research can be conducted while wearing face coverings (cloth or masks) unless other special circumstances are approved (e.g., face shields).
  3. Hand hygiene and workspace disinfection protocols are consistent with policies for all academic spaces.

Please note that students who have elected the remote-learning only option cannot conduct research in person. Also, sophomores and juniors may not participate in research in person until their scheduled arrival to campus in September. This includes students who may be on campus early (e.g., resident assistants, orientation staff, student-athletes, or students who reside in Greenville). For questions about PPE and safety protocols, contact John Wheeler. For questions about students completing summer fellowships sponsored by Office of Undergraduate Research, contact Erik Ching.

I.15 Where can I find information about Furman employment policies as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Human Resources has posted a coronavirus-related FAQ with information about sick leave and other policies that will continue to be updated as this situation evolves. You can find that on the HR homepage.

I.16 Are there outdoor classroom spaces that I might utilize for instruction?

The Shi Center for Sustainability encourages our campus community to utilize outdoor components of our campus as a living-learning lab. Several outdoor living-learning spaces are available for your use. For those interested in using / reserving / visiting various Living Learning Lab spaces across campus (e.g., Place of Peace, Furman Farm, Thoreau Cabin, Solar Farm, etc …) for your classes, a reservation form is available to help make it easy to do. With off-campus field trips in fall classes not happening, on campus field trips are great substitutes for class and lab activities. All public health protocols should be observed in these spaces.

I.17 How should I interpret the new course roster information for Fall 2020?

For more information about the new “Face-to-Face Permitted” and “Remote Learner” columns in your course roster as well as how to interpret them, please see this quick guide 

I.18 What academic policy adjustments have been made for the Fall 2020 semester?

Several important policy modifications in effect for Fall 2020 were passed by the Academic Policies Committee (APC) and Faculty Executive Council (FEC) this summer. Included are updates to Drop-Add, Final Examinations, Absence/Class Attendance. 

  • A revised CLP proposal (now posted in Box) will be presented during the first faculty meeting on Thursday, August 20. Students have been told to expect the new procedures to be communicated after that date. 
  • The Student Handbook’s classroom recording policy has been updated to more productively align with FurmanFlex and Online course modalities. Be sure to see the Classroom Recording FAQ and the Recording Course Activities: Promising Practices guide, created by FDC, for more information about effectively utilizing classroom recordings. 

Keep in mind important course adjustment dates. 

  • Also please be aware that sophomores and juniors will move into their campus housing assignments between Friday September 11 and Sunday September 13. Many students will need to travel before those dates to make it to campus at their scheduled time. We ask you keep this situation in mind when designing your syllabus and assignments. 
I.19 Will I receive a health notice if one of my students becomes ill?

The health notices protocols and procedures implemented for the 2018-2019 academic year remain in effect. There is a new notice that will be used starting this fall. Given the current circumstances coupled with continued needs to protect privacy, we carefully crafted this notice to provide instructors with pertinent informationHIPAA prevents the University from communicating with faculty directly about potential Covid-19 diagnoses, but the text of the new health notification should provide you with more than enough information to understand the circumstances. For detailed information about how to interpret these new notices, please see this scenario-based document 

Health Notices are sent for all students and their high-risk contacts who have been processed by the Earle Student Health Center or who have provided documentation to the Associate Academic Dean’s office. These cases are reported weekly on the University Dashboard. Furman can only report on the dashboard or act on health information provided by the Earle Student Health Center. 

I.20 When do faculty have access to campus and academic buildings?

The planned gate schedule for the fall 2020 semester is as follows: 

Gate  Weekday Schedule  Weekend Schedule 
Atkinson (Main) Gate  Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Closed(call 2111 for access) 
Timmons Gate  Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Closed 
Alley Gym Gate  Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Closed 
North Village Gate  Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Closed 
Facilities Gate  Open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Closed 
Tennis Center Gate  Closed  Closed 

Academic buildings will be open for faculty, staff, and student access from 7:00 am-7:00 pm on weekdays. Students will not be able to access buildings after hours for studying or any other purpose. 

Key/ID card access for academic buildings will be required for faculty and staff after hours and on weekends. Faculty will have access to academic buildings at all hours. 

I.21 Should I permit student groups to leave my classroom for small group work during a class period?

To help keep hallway density low and controlled, please encourage students to remain in the classroom during your class time. For instance, do not excuse small groups to work outside or in building common areas to rectify audio issues in the classroom. 

I.22 What are the expectations for faculty around classroom cleaning and sanitation?

Students and professors should wipe down surfaces in their immediate workspace each time they arrive in a classroom and again when they leave. 

Classrooms have been resupplied with trash cans. Please send a message to Workorder Request if you find that a classroom does not have a trash can. All classrooms should be stocked with cleaning supplies. If you need to request additional cleaning supplies for your classroom, please send a message to Workorder Request. 

I.23 Who should I contact if I have an urgent instructional or classroom need?

Use the chart below to contact the appropriate person/units who can help most expediently. 

Issue  Department/Office  Contact person  Cell phone 
Classroom technology  IT  Mike Gifford  864 660 9970 
Furniture, wipes, sanitizer  Facilities Services  Jim Benes  864 404 0229 
Building Access  Furman Police    864 294 2111 
Academic matters, rosters, policies, compliance  Associate Academic Dean  Kyle Longest  704 578 5547 
Fall planning  Associate Provost for Engaged Learning  Beth Pontari  864 423 4323 
If your call is not answered  Academic Leadership  Kyle Longest  704 578 5547 
    Beth Pontari  864 423 4323 
I.24 Can I move or rearrange the furniture in my classroom?

Do not move classroom furniture. We understand the importance of rearranging classroom setups in order to align with pedagogical objectives. However, Facilities Services is arranging and marking furniture in ways that ensure that physical distancing requirements are being met. This is a health and safety issue, and breaching the six-feet physical distancing threshold could result in students and/or professors being quarantined if a student tests positive for COVID-19. 

I.25 What role are faculty expected to play in enforcing campus health and safety policies?

Faculty are empowered to monitor and report non-compliance with the tenets of the Paladin Promise. This might exceed the normal parameters of the professor-student relationship, but it is essential for safety and well-being of the larger campus community. Please communicate directly with students who are not wearing a mask, or who are not wearing a mask properly, and who are not adhering to physical distancing requirements. Report non-compliant students to Kyle Longest as soon as possible. 

I.26 What happens if a student in my course tests positive for COVID-19?

Any individual who has had close contact (defined as 15 minutes or more within six feet) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be notified by our contact tracing process and advised about requirements around isolation or quarantine. Individuals maintaining at least six feet of physical distancing do not qualify as close contacts in our contact tracing procedures. Therefore, if an individual in your class tests positive for Covid-19, then the entire class does not have to quarantine and isolate. Maintaining physical distance of six feet or more at all times obviates the need for wide-spread quarantine. 

I.27 Can I still invite visitors to campus for curricular or co-curricular events?

Please review our recently instituted invited visitor policy. Campus visitors should be kept at a minimum, and the host bears responsibility for ensuring that guest speakers are aware of and comply with health and safety protocols. 

I.28 How should I treat additional time accommodations for students who require them for FurmanFlex or online assignments/tests?

Please note that time accommodations are not granted for “X amount of minutes” but rather “X amount of time beyond that given to all students” as a student with a time accommodation will need additional time to demonstrate the same level of achievement/knowledge as can be demonstrated by classmates in the time allocated.   

For example, you write an online quiz to take 15 minutes, but plan to give the entire class 45 minutes to complete it. Because you are allowing other students to use as much as 45 minutes to complete the test, that same 45 minutes may not be adequate for a student with a time accommodation. Extra time should be assigned in this case 

You might refer to the 2010 OCR letter to Lewis and Clark College (OCR Reference #10092092). In this case, OCR ruled that the student in the case must be provided additional time on top of what the class as a whole was provided – even if the instructor felt that the exam was written to be completed in a certain amount of time, or even if the instructor “built in” additional time for all students. 

II. Promising FurmanFlex and Online Instructional Practices

II.1 How might I re-conceptualize my in-person active learning strategies for a physically-distanced reality?

To read more about what others are doing to maintain active learning in a physically distanced classroom environment click here and for a number of useful suggestions, see here. You might consider this resource for physically-distanced activity adaptations and/or supplement these activities with active asynchronous interactions.

II.2 Synchronous vs. asynchronous instruction – what are the expectations?

Decisions about the use of asynchronous and/or synchronous activities in your course should include careful consideration of (1) your course learning objectives, (2) the students who may enroll in those courses, and (3) the online instructional tools you are most comfortable with. A combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities can be effectively matched with your pedagogical aims to provide robust and rigorous instruction. Student feedback from the spring semester indicates that students appreciate synchronous engagement and it is expected that you work to ensure that your courses meet synchronously as often as they would for face-to-face instruction. 

You might use Zoom or Microsoft Teams for purposeful, synchronous meetings in the form of (1) course discussions or mini-lectures, (2) scheduled office hours (rather than class times), (3) individual consultations with students akin to advising appointments, or (4) meetings with smaller groups of students.  These nodes of synchronicity add value to the student experience when they are used in conjunction with robust asynchronous strategies like interactive faculty-led discussion forums, collaborative group activities, short video lecture or lab simulations, or student study sessions. 

Your synchronous course meetings should take place during the meeting times posted for the course during student registration, even if these courses are offered online.  

You may decide to record and make your synchronous sessions available in an asynchronous format for students who are not able to join every live course session. Please keep in mind that if you are recording course activities to share with your students these should be recorded LOCALLY and then uploaded and shared using these promising practices.  

II.3 Should I attempt to use synchronous instruction for ALL course periods?

Only you can determine whether it is pedagogically necessary for every class period to involve some sort of synchronous interaction, regardless of the mode through which students are engaging. However, it is expected that the majority of your regular course meetings involve some sort of synchronous engagement, whether that is with your full course or in small group or one-on-one interactions.   

It is a helpful practice for your synchronous sessions to be recorded and made available in an asynchronous format for students who are not able to join live course sessions for legitimate reasons (i.e. in a time zone that precludes participation in a synchronous session at a reasonable hour of the day). However, some topics or conversations may be of a sensitive nature, and thus this must be weighed against the relative benefits of recorded class sessions. Please keep in mind that if you are recording your course activities to share with your students these should be recorded LOCALLY and then uploaded and shared using these promising practices.  

II.4 How do I best support students with academic accommodations in FurmanFlex or Online instruction?

If some of your students traditionally receive in-class accommodations (accessible media, transcription, captioning, testing accommodations, …) they may need additional accommodations for online or physically distanced classrooms.  Some students may have found your brick and mortar curriculum accessible but need an accommodation in the new delivery format. While the Student Office for Accessibility Resources works directly with all students who have requested accommodations, please don’t hesitate to contact SOAR if you have any questions on how to provide accommodations in this new format. In particular, SOAR has helpful online learning resources for faculty and staff here and resources for students here. SOAR will contact you should additional measures be warranted for the fall (the use of “see through” face masks, etc.).

If you have students who are having difficulty accessing online materials or can’t engage in too much screen time because of their disability, SOAR has developed a process to support those students by providing them with printed material that is shipped to them directly. If you’d like to utilize this resource, please submit a Printed Materials Request and SOAR will take it from there. 

II.5 What resources are available to help me adapt my labs for online or flexible platforms?

Lab sessions are designed for a variety of purposes, including the development of techniques and specialized skills, the practice of interpreting experimental data, experimentation in “real-world” applied settings, and project-based learning. While there is no direct substitute for hands-on, experimental learning, several options for meeting some of your learning objectives in an online learning context are available here, although most discipline-specific professional organizations offer more focused ideas in your area of expertise.   

II.6 What options might faculty consider for online students to complete assignments that involve presentations?

Much like your instructional presentations, students might consider recording their presentation in PowerPoint and sharing it with you or the class, or uploading it in a shared online repository. Students might also present their material during a group or one-one-one Zoom or Microsoft Teams video meeting. For students that aren’t in a place with the bandwidth that supports video or large file uploads, you might encourage your students to provide you with a portfolio for their presentation, including all the relevant audio/visual aids they would plan to use, their presentation outline, and their speaking notes and/or prompts. 

II.7 What mechanisms can be leveraged to allow students to meet or work virtually in small groups?

Whether you have students in a physically distanced classroom or those joining you online, there are ways to facilitate group interactions via virtual platforms. If you’d like to facilitate synchronous small group interactions in a digital environment, Zoom meetings has a built-in small-group meeting feature that allows you to assign individuals to a small group or will automatically assign them for you. If students want to initiate meetings and group work without an instructor they can do so in Microsoft Teams or Zoom as all students have a Teams and Zoom license. Please note, however, that multiple users in a virtual video or audio conference in the same space may experience feedback issues. 

For asynchronous video interaction, both Whatsapp and Marco Polo applications allow students to create group chats where they can send and listen to short recordings using their cell phones. Small groups of students might create a group chat that includes the instructor, and then use the recording feature to have a conversation with each other. The instructor can listen to the conversation and then record feedback if desired. For questions, consult the Marco Polo FAQ or the Whatsapp FAQ. 

For real-time, collaborative group work, you might consider the use of collaborative document platforms like Box, which includes both word processing and spreadsheet options for documents that can be edited by multiple users at the same time. In Box, you can set up folders for specific purposes (e.g. In-Class Group Work), and then share that folder with all the members of your class (or post a link to the folder in your Moodle course). If you’ve shared the folder (or the link to an openly accessible folder), any of your students can create and edit shared documents in that folder. Information about sharing Box folders can be found here.

Other options include the use of group chat features or platforms like Moodle forums/chat. 

II.8 What options are available for synchronous online teaching?

You can connect with students joining your classes virtually via chat, voice, or video conferencing.

Chat: Synchronous chat rooms allow multiple users to log in and interact. This is a great way to ask questions and to share resources and insights. Moodle has a chat interface built in. Microsoft Teams, part of Microsoft 365, has a chat feature that keeps chat history, and allows for one-on-one, group, or small group chat. Other options for free chat platforms include Chatzy or YO Teach. 

Voice: (telephone or voice-over IP): If you have the appropriate equipment, you might enable your course participants to conference call with you, using either your computer or phone. 

Video or web conferencing/streaming: Using a webcam, you conduct a lecture or class discussion in real time. This may be recorded for later, so students can watch the session if they are unable to join. Consider these tips for enlivening your virtual class sessions.  

  • Two of the more widely used applications include Zoom and Microsoft Teams.  
  • All Furman Faculty have access to University sponsored Zoom and Teams accounts.
    • The Zoom interface, for example, includes video conferencing, a chat window, screen sharing, and whiteboard features and allows you to host meetings with up to 300 students.  Professor of Classics Chris Blackwell has these tips for utilizing multiple devices to facilitate FurmanFlex instruction via Zoom.
    • Microsoft Teams is free to you and is a part of your Outlook email web client. It allows up to 250 people per meeting.
    • Please note: Starting Sept 27, 2020 all Zoom meetings are required to have either a Passcode or Waiting Room. If hosts do not want their guests to have to wait in the waiting room or enter a Passcode they can go to Meeting Settings and choose to “embed Passcode” into the meeting URL and then set a Passcode. If hosts do not set a Passcode or enable a waiting room, a waiting room will be added to the meeting automatically.
  • Find out more about each of these here.
II.9 What if I have a concern about a student’s access to online learning technology or their health and safety?

Not all of your students will have the familiarity or the access to certain types of digital technology. If you have a concern about a particular student, including a student’s understanding of or access to technology required for online learning in your course, please Raise an Academic Concern Flag in Success@Furman. Several options include: 

  • ‘Academic – General Concern’ flags can be raised by anyone for any reason. Example reasons may include students who indicate they do not have access to necessary technology or internet, students who are struggling to engage remotely, or students who find navigating various technology platforms challenging. If a student is not responding to communication or not “attending” class, please raise this flag. 
  • ‘Housing Insecurity’ flags can also be raised by anyone when students indicate they have housing insecurities. 
  • All other regular academic performance and general behavior flags can continue to be used. Campus support resources will still be reaching out and communicating with students who are on-campus and joining virtually. 
II.10 I’m concerned about the mental health of my students. What resources can I share with them?

The Furman Counseling Center has assembled a number of resources for you to share with your students who may be in need of mental health support during flexible instruction scenarios. Students are encouraged to communicate directly with a member of the Counseling Services team for personalized support. The United Way of South Carolina provides a one-stop-shop for local support resources in the Greenville area on their 211 website.

In general, you might consider implementing a number of strategies from trauma-informed pedagogy into your courses to support students during this time. By connecting with our students through these strategies in a way that addresses the whole student, we have a much greater chance at cultivating rich learning and growth through our educational interactions. 

II.11 How can I support students in online environments with text anxiety?

For students who experience test anxiety, a switch to an online assessment format can elevate these feelings. In particular, high stakes online proctored exams can elicit elevated apprehension. You can help reduce online exam anxiety: 

  1. First, ask yourself if there is a pedagogical justification for surveillance? Online proctoring is most useful for verifying the identity of the person taking the exam. Beyond that, if you intend to surveil your students during an exam, consider recommending students minimize their zoom window once the exam begins. This will allow you to continue to monitor each student, but will create a less distracting environment for those completing the activity. 
  2. Second, you might review and share these suggestions with your students on reducing anxiety in remote testing environments. The Center for Academic Success has many additional test taking resources you can share as well. 
  3. Finally, it is good practice to give students the following information well in advance of any online exam or assessment: 
    • Is the test synchronous or asynchronous? 
    • How much time will students have to complete the test? 
    • Is the exam open book or notes? 
    • How will students be able to communicate with you during the exam if they have a clarifying question? How will you communicate with students if there is a change or correction that needs to be made to the exam? 
    • Will students be able to go back and revisit completed questions? 
II.12 How might I ensure that students joining virtually are actually "present"?

Creating community is central to an engaging, robust learning environment and one way we do this is by “seeing” each other during class discussions. This can be difficult when students are hesitant (or even refuse) to use video and audio during some synchronous class sessions. We know that students have a myriad of reasons to do this and we don’t want to assume these. To encourage student to remain engaged during your synchronous course sessions even when joining online, you might consider:

  1. Especially in larger groups (greater than 12) it can be daunting for participants to have video and audio on.  Sometimes using breakouts, and encouraging participants to use video in the breakout, results in more people using video when they return to the “big room”.
  2. Some colleagues have used statements on their syllabus to set expectations for synchronous sessions or facilitated conversations with your students about these expectations early on. You might ask students in a pre-course survey if there is a reason they are comfortable sharing for why they are not using these methods to connect with classmates. Awareness of these issues might allow you to develop creative strategies for engagement.
  3. If students are in situations where they are uncomfortable with video or audio turned on, you might teach them how to upload a photo of themselves that projects while the video is muted, or encourage alternative modes of engagement that demonstrate participation (e.g. comments in chat).
II.13 Are there any promising practices with regard to adapting lecture content for online spaces?

Whether you are teaching an online course or want to utilize your synchronous course interactions for more active learning elements, there are a variety of methods you might use to adapt your lecture content for a digital format. Those might include recorded videos, interactive graphics, narrated Power Point presentations, or short audio or video clips of “mini lectures”. For a closer look at several of these options, click here and for important guidance about creating these videos, see here. For several tips on enlivening your virtual synchronous instruction, see here

II.14 How might I accommodate students in my courses who are located in different countries or time zones?

While it can be a helpful practice for your synchronous sessions to be recorded and made available in an asynchronous format for students who are not able to join live course sessions for legitimate reasons (i.e. in a time zone that precludes participation in a synchronous session at a reasonable hour of the day) this may not always be the best approach.  

Some topics or conversations may be of a sensitive nature, and thus this must be weighed against the relative benefits of recording class sessions, especially if you have students located in areas where course content could be a risk to their safety. If you do record your course sessions, ensuring these follow these promising practices that require double password-protected access and limiting that access only to those that need the information for a limited amount of time is prudent. Please keep in mind that if you are recording class activities to share with your students these should be recorded LOCALLY and then uploaded securely following the procedures linked above. 

If you decide not to record your full course sessions for these reasons, you might consider recording the most essential components like your lecture content, or “sign post” or summary portions of a larger class discussion where you dedicate a portion at the end of a class conversation for you or course participants to highlight key content from that discussion (definitions, ideas, areas of application). Another option involves assigning rotating responsibility to students for taking notes from class sessions to share with those that cannot attend. 

There are a number of additional asynchronous strategies you might consider to keep students who are unable to join your synchronous sessions due to time zone or security conflicts engaged and participating in the course. Several approaches are highlighted here. 

Beyond time-zone differences, you may have students who are accessing your course remotely from a country that has internet firewall restrictions or strict policies about certain types of content. Students located in China, for example, may not have access to some frequently used instructional platforms (i.e. Youtube.com) and recent laws have made it easier for officials to prosecute individuals for crimes against the state for expressing certain opinions and perspectives. Working with students in these situations early in the course (see several recommendations here) to ensure they can access essential course content in a safe and secure fashion will ensure a more equitable learning experience for all your students. 

II.15 In what ways might I consider adapting my assessment for FurmanFlex or Online Instruction?

Some general guidance for FurmanFlex and Online Assessment (with linksto additional resources)is available onthe FDC’swebsite (link here). 

Two notes of interest as you consider your adaptations:

  • Some colleagues who taught during the summer have used take home, open book exams and have the following advice: Students aren’t familiar with this testing format and are requiring 2-3X more test time because they are consulting textbooks to look up and then check every single answer. Suggest that theywork through the test with whattheyhave studiedaloneand then use the book sparingly, like a “phone a friend” option.  
  • Slight structural changes to exams can also help students become more strategic test takers. For instance, we are often tempted to add “warm up” short response/identification questions at the beginning of an exam and save the more difficult “long work” problems for the end.  Students who look up every answer burn up precious time on low-value early test items, and then run out of time to complete the more credit-rich questions at the end of the test.  
II.16 I am concerned about academic dishonesty in my FurmanFlex or Online courses - how might I prevent that from occurring?

We recognize that FurmanFlex and Online learning creates increased concerns aboutacademic dishonesty. 

Where possible, faculty are encouraged to consider alternative applied assessment measures to replace synchronous exam evaluations as these can reduce the ability of students to engage in academic dishonesty. Some ideas include replacing exams with final projects or papers, converting an exam to an applied take-home version, or utilizing the asynchronous exam format that is part of Furman’s learning management system, Moodle. Moodle has a quiz feature with built in capability to scramble answer and question order for added protection against academic dishonesty. Other options include open and closed-book application activities for your exams. 

If you feel as if proctored, synchronous exams are essential for your course, you might consider proctoring those via an online video conferencing platform like Zoom. In order to do this, you would set up a timed Moodle Quiz, gather students in a Zoom session, and proctor that exam live. 

Considering how course design may be related to opportunities for integrity concerns is also a helpful issue to address. One line of defense is sprinkling each week with low-stakes assessment opportunities and crafting assignments that build upon these and prevent cheating all together.  A recentInside Higher Edarticle includes more leads for preserving academic integrity in your courses.

II.17 What additional language might I add to my syllabus to account for the new realities of FurmanFlex and Online learning?

An updated Faculty Development Center syllabus and course schedule templates are available here.  The syllabus template includes a new section with suggested language for your FurmanFlex or Online course syllabi. To ensure that students have reviewed and understand components of your syllabi, you might consider:

  • Create a set of documents to guide students in the course (a one-pager on course policies, a one-pager on student support, and a separate course schedule).  
  • Invite students to review and discuss the syllabus for the purpose of collective revision (where appropriate) in an effort to build inclusive community in the course.  
  • Construct a low-stakes syllabus quiz or set of common class policy scenarios for students to work through using the syllabus as a primary source early in your course.  
II.18 How can I or my students access library resources from off campus?

Students located off-campus should consult this information about how they should work with librarians to access information in a remote environment. 

To support your instructional needs, the Duke Library offers many helpful remote learning services, including Scan and Deliver and resource digitization. In addition, the library can support you in the purchase of e-book or streaming information and has assembled a list of vendors offering free resources during the pandemic. The Libraries are also prepared to purchase access to streaming videos and music, to buy electronic books, and to provide direct database access to journal articles whenever possible. Please use the forms available here to request library materials for your summer course. Your departmental liaison librarian is also available to help you identify materials for your course.  

Please note that while course reserves are still available, the library currently does not have a way to fully sanitize print copies of these materials. Health and safety protocols have been developed for the use of such materials, but please consider utilizing digital course materials if at all possible. Many textbook companies will work with you to make this content available digitally.

II.19 When should I set up my Moodle course site(s) for fall 2020 courses?

Because students often first check Moodle for course information, if possible, please post a syllabus frame or partial draft (if your complete syllabus is not available) along with all required course materials at least two weeks before the beginning of your course (August 4), so that students understand the basic course details and can acquire the appropriate course materials prior to the start of the course. 

As you prepare for fall courses or look ahead to the fall, you may want to access previous course materials in Moodle, so that you can reutilize some of the content you created online. For information about how to access past courses in Moodle, please see here. 

II.20 Are there any tips for projecting my voice while wearing a mask in the classroom?

While PPE equipment can muffle the voice, classroom microphones at Furman are sensitive enough to capture even soft-spoken individuals. Even still, colleagues that study the human voice have several tips for protecting and projecting your voice in a masked, physically distanced classroom. This blog post from Elon University suggests a few measures you can take.

II.21 Outside of classroom instruction, is it OK to schedule course-related interactions virtually?

As you schedule time to meet with students individually to go over matters pertaining to your courses, please remember that virtual meetings with students and colleagues are preferable to in-person meetings wherever possible. 

II.22 How might I handle timed quizzes in Moodle for students in different time zones?

You cannot set Moodle to automatically adjust a deadline to replicate in a different time zone. If you have a quiz deadline of 2pm EDT it will be due at 2am for someone in a timezone with a 12-hour difference, not 2pm their time, for example. 

Instead, you might consider setting your quiz/assignment to be open for a 24-hour period, let students start whenever they wish, but restrict the time in which it must be completed to however long you feel is necessary (one hour, two, three) to complete. This allows students to take the quiz when they are able, but they all have the same time limit in which to do so.

It is also worth noting that students can set their Moodle profile timezone to whatever they want, and then all assignment due times will show correctly in their timezone. These will adjust from the timezone from which they are set (EDT in our case). If the end of a 24-hour period in which you’ve given students to take the quiz is 5pm EDT, for example, then someone who has adjusted their timezone for PDT would show a deadline of 2pm PDT. 

II.23 What are some ideas to encourage students to use virtual office hours?

You can’t expect students to use something they don’t know about or understand. Be clear with students about when you are holding office hours, how you will facilitate the meetings, what platform/s you will use, and why students should attend them. You could encourage or require a meeting early in the semester (within the first 2-3 weeks) with every student. Remind students each week or 2 about how they can take advantage of time with you in office hours. Being explicit about the different things you can talk about with a professor during office hours (content questions, internships, etc.) is also helpful to make it transparent for all students. 

When establishing your office hour schedule, consider the following: 

Appointments vs Drop-ins (or both) 

  • Do you prefer to meet with students 1-on-1 or in groups?  
  • Do students benefit from hearing other students’ questions and the responses in a small group?  
  • Are students more likely to share their challenges with you individually? 
  • Are you available when students are working on your course? 

Weekly or Responsive 

  • Do you want to have a weekly scheduled time for office hours that is consistent over the semester? 
  • Do you want to have more office hours in the days before an exam/quiz/assignment is due and not have it be as consistent over the semester? 
  • Would it be useful to students if you have 1 consistent weekly time and one by appointment or on-demand? 

After Hours? 

  • Do you want/have a system to share relevant questions and responses that happen during office hours with the class to create more equity and access for all students?  
  • Could students post what they discussed with you in office hours to a discussion board which allows you to see what is clear and what might need more explanation/practice? 

III. FurmanFlex and Online Learning Technology

III.1 Do students need licenses (for Zoom, etc.) for online instructional technology?

While there are some online software applications that require individual users to register or pay for an account, the instructional technology resources Furman encourages you to use with your students do not require this. Furman has a site license for Zoom, which means that all Furman faculty, staff, and students have access to a Furman Zoom Professional account. All Furman employees and students have free access to Microsoft Teams. 

Please note: Starting Sept 27, 2020 all Zoom meetings are required to have either a Passcode or Waiting Room. If hosts do not want their guests to have to wait in the waiting room or enter a Passcode they can go to Meeting Settings and choose to “embed Passcode” into the meeting URL and then set a Passcode. If hosts do not set a Passcode or enable a waiting room, a waiting room will be added to the meeting automatically.

III.2 What resources exist to help students learn how to utilize online instructional technology?

We’ve prepared several resources and pre-packaged material for you to utilize to help prepare your students for FurmanFlex or Online instruction. In addition, most online learning/meeting platforms have pre-existing, easy-to-use end-user tutorials. Zoom, for example, has a host of text and video tutorials available online. Microsoft Teams provides similar resources. Once you have adopted a specific online instructional technology, part of your initial communication to students about engaging with that platform should include training resources of this nature. You should spend time with your students to orient them to their online learning landscape for your course. 

III.3 Why don’t we use G-Suite for Education applications?

Furman has an agreement with Microsoft that ensures they can meet the security features we require and that we are FERPA compliant, which is why we work more directly with MS applications at the moment. ITS has been in conversation with Google about G-suite products, but no such agreement exists at this time and we cannot ensure it would provide the same level of security or compliance. As such, we recommend you consider MS alternatives that allow the same function. In addition to Box and Moodle, Microsoft Teams allows many of the same features as G-suite applications, as does OneNote for Education, both of which are free to Furman faculty. More information about both of these platforms can be found on the online learning resources page here. 

III.4 Which software packages can be used only on campus vs. off-campus?

Some software packages allow remote access, others do not. For example, if your students have been set up to use Stata in Citrix, they can continue to use this off campus. Other applications, like ArcGIS, require remote access subscriptions. Please contact Susan Dunnavant if you utilize software that you’d like to access remotely.  

III.5 What if I'd like to purchase new instructional technology licenses or subscriptions?

Please do not buy equipment and/or software/licenses without prior approval from the relevant spending authority as we cannot guarantee you will be reimbursed. Furman has negotiated discounts for buying software and certain materials in bulk. All requests for supplemental materials, hardware, subscriptions, or software should be funneled through your department chair to the appropriate institutional authority. 

III.6 I’ve got a technical question about how to use Zoom or Microsoft Teams, where can I find an answer?

Both Zoom and Microsoft Teams have robust user tutorials available online that cover a number of typical usage questions. Please first consult these resources to see if an answer to your question is available. If you still can’t find a suitable answer or are having challenges operating one of these platforms, please contact service.center@furman.edu. 

III.7 I’d like to record my Zoom sessions and post them online, how do I do that?

For instructions on how to record your Zoom session, click here. Please keep in mind that if you are recording your Zoom session to share with your students these should be recorded LOCALLY and then uploaded online. If you’d like to record Zoom sessions on a classroom computer, please first save to the desktop, and then transfer to Box. Please do not record these sessions to the Zoom cloud as Furman’s Zoom cloud space will quickly fill and your recording will not be saved. In order to protect student privacy, you should follow these promising practices when recording, uploading, and sharing course video sessions.   

Please keep in mind that some topics or conversations may be of a sensitive nature, and thus this must be weighed against the relative benefits of recording class sessions, especially if you have students located in areas where course content could be a risk to their safety. Working with students in these situations early in the course (see several recommendations here) to ensure they can access essential course content in a safe and secure fashion will ensure a more equitable learning experience for all your students. 

III.8 I’m worried about people dropping in to my Zoom meeting room uninvited (zoom bombing). What can I do to prevent that?

Zoom has taken steps across their global platform to enhance security to minimize the occurrence of zoom-bombing (for example, now screen sharing among your students is an opt-in feature in your settings). However, as you schedule and host Zoom meetings, we want you to be aware of the options you have for sharing information and managing participants to prevent uninvited people from joining or sharing their screen without your permission, including options to implement passwords for your meetings and steps to remove uninvited guests. In this document you will find an overview of the options available to you to increase your Zoom meeting privacy and security.

Starting Sept 27, 2020 all Zoom meetings are required to have either a Passcode or Waiting Room. If hosts do not want their guests to have to wait in the waiting room or enter a Passcode they can go to Meeting Settings and choose to “embed Passcode” into the meeting URL and then set a Passcode. If hosts do not set a Passcode or enable a waiting room, a waiting room will be added to the meeting automatically.

If you have questions or concerns about your privacy, please contact the Service Center (864.294.3277). 

III.9 I’d like to add someone else in the role of teacher to my Moodle site. How can I do that?

For those instructors who wish to add individuals in the role of teacher to your Moodle courses, please consult these instructions for guidance about how to do so. However, please note that you are not able to add participants as students using this procedure. Any individual you manually add to your Moodle course as a teacher will have access to student records, grades, and assignments. Please do not attempt to add student participants using this feature, as it has the potential to create student privacy violations.  

III.10 Can I set minimum technical and/or software requirements for my FurmanFlex or Online course?

It is not uncommon for courses that involve online components to implement minimum technical and software requirements. At a minimum, participants in most online courses will need some sort of internet connection and computer device, although more specific software, internet connection speeds, or equipment may be needed for your course. While it is acceptable to set minimum standards for your courses, please do so only in cases where the requirement is essential to complete the basic functions of the course. As much as possible, please consider that students may have limited access to certain types of technology or software and modify your course design as much as possible to reduce exclusivity. 

III.11 Can I re-arrange, move, or unplug classroom or lab technology?

Please do not unplug, move, or re-arrange any classroom or shared lab instructional technology managed by Furman ITS. Each teaching station or computer lab has been carefully configured to ensure connectivity among those in-person and those that may join remotely. If you have a question about technology configurations or have a problem you need addressed, please contact service.center@furman.edu.

III.12 Do I have to create Passwords for my Zoom sessions?

Starting Sept 27, 2020 all Zoom meetings are required to have either a Passcode or Waiting Room. If hosts do not want their guests to have to wait in the waiting room or enter a Passcode they can go to Meeting Settings and choose to “embed Passcode” into the meeting URL and then set a Passcode. If hosts do not set a Passcode or enable a waiting room, a waiting room will be added to the meeting automatically.

III.13 What is the best way to utilize the new remote-ready technology in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) classrooms?

In BYOD classrooms (mostly in the science complex) where there is not a teaching station computer available, users will need to connect instructional technology devices to their computer for all the features (classroom microphones, speakers, etc.) to work. Both Macs and PCs are compatible with these systems. If your computer is a Mac, a small driver will need to be present for the system to function properly. 

III.14 Can I use a Mac in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) teaching station?

Yes! All BYOD classroom teaching stations are every bit as compatible with Macs as they are PCs. The only difference is that Macs do require a driver. Instructions will be posted about the required driver at each BYOD teaching podium. 

III. 15 How do I utilize the document camera in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) classroom?

Displaying the doc cam to both in-person and remote learners is as follows in a BYOD room where there is not a teaching station computer: 

  1. Connect your device to the in-room projector and document camera using the provided cables. 
  2. Turn on the document camera. 
  3. In Zoom, select Share Screen at the bottom of the screen. 
  4. In the pop-up window, select the “Advanced” tab. 
  5. Click “Content from a 2nd camera.” 
  6. Click the blue “Share Screen” button to start sharing. 

Trying to show the document camera (or whiteboard, or projector screen) from a secondary device’s camera will not be an adequate solution. Instead, make use of Zoom’s “Share Screen” function to show the content you need for class. 

III.16 If there is a teaching station computer in my classroom, can I use my laptop to connect to the new classroom technology?

To enable all of the new remote-ready features like classroom microphones, speakers, and audio in the rooms where there is a teaching station computer, that computer needs to “drive” what is presented to those in the classroom and those connected remotely. Although a professor may connect to Zoom, for example, with their laptop to display material or join as a participant, the main teaching station computer should be utilized to project this information in the classroom and to those joining virtually. 

III.17 Can I encourage my F2F students to join my classroom zoom session to interact with those joining remotely?

It is possible to facilitate interaction among your F2F and remote students through the zoom client by having your F2F students join your zoom classroom on their personal devices. If you are opting for this approach, be sure to advise your F2F student to mute their computer speakers AND mute themselves in Zoom. The classroom microphone (Huddle USB) will pick up your lecture and your students’ comments. 

III.18 How should I join the wireless network if I’m not in my classroom or office?

The FU-FacStaff wireless network no longer exists. The first time you access the new FU-Employee network, you will have to re-enter your Furman username and password to connect to wireless in the academic areas. 

III.19 What process should I follow to schedule and invite my students to course Zoom meetings?

There are a variety of options for scheduling and inviting participants to Zoom meetings. We recommend that you create one recurring Zoom meeting for each of your remote or FurmanFlex courses instead of creating separate meetings for each course session. Information about how to join your course Zoom room should be posted in your online learning platform (e.g. Moodle) so that students can easily access that information from anywhere. For a quick guide on scheduling a Zoom meeting and inviting participants, see here.   

III.20 Is there anyway to improve classroom speakers or microphone capability?

As you receive feedback from students about their experiences in your FurmanFlex classroom, please inform our colleagues in ITS (service.center@furman.edu) if your in-person or remote students are having trouble hearing class activities. The remote-ready technology recently install in classrooms may need to be adjusted to accommodate your classroom set-up and activities. 

III.21 What should I do if my preferred method of synchronous engagement crashes?

Despite the many benefits of flexible instructional technology, there may be occasions when the platforms we rely on are not available. In order to prepare for such circumstances, it is helpful to: 

  • Have a back-up online platform set up for emergency situations. This might be a Microsoft Teams channel, a shared Box document, or a Moodle discussion forum where you could post alternative instructions or assignments in the event you can’t gather synchronously. 
  • Communicate your back-up plan/platform to your students in advance so they know what to do if your preferred method of engagement is not working properly. This could be as simple as “always check Moodle Announcements first for further instruction”.  
  • Post the full details about how students might join your course video conferencing sessions in a ready-available repository for students. If you are using Zoom, this includes not only the direct URL link, but also the Meeting ID and call-in phone number. 
III.22 Zoom fatigue is starting to set in. What can I do about it?

Making even small changes to your zoom video conference meetings can go a long way. Check out these eight tips for dealing with Zoom fatigue.

IV. Low-Tech Flexible or Online Teaching Options

IV.1 What if I need to scan documents and don’t have access to a scanner on campus?

You can convert any smartphone into a portable scanner. For several options for both iPhone and Android users, click here. This is also a valuable trick for your students so that they can submit work that isn’t easily captured with traditional word processing tools.

IV.2 What if I need to utilize a whiteboard for virtual instruction off campus?

The Zoom whiteboard allows for real-time text and drawing features in a synchronous session, although the articulation is not precise. If you have an ipad, there are a number of interactive whiteboard apps for this purpose, including AirSketch and Notability– you could then share your iPad screen with students in a Zoom session, for example. Several web-based applications exist if neither of these options is feasible, including many that are free. One of our favorites is whiteboard.fi. 

IV.3 How can I foster collaboration and engagement in asynchronous formats without synchronous interactions?

For tips on how to foster engagement in online discussions, click here and for ideas about how to foster student engagement asynchronous, click here.

Some ideas include:

Email: It might seem basic, but email is a foundational item in all online courses. It’s a great tool for asking questions, keeping in touch, and receiving materials, updates, reminders, and even assessments.

Digital Curriculum Materials: While this could also be found in synchronous programs, digital materials to supplement the curriculum may be especially prominent in asynchronous learning. This could be anything from uploaded PowerPoint presentations, to document sharing, to podcasts and video streaming.

Discussion Boards: Often, this is used to facilitate debates, collaboration, and discussion about course content, just like you might have in a physical classroom. The difference is that, in a discussion board, participants pop in and comment whenever they are able.

Social Networking: Consider integrating social networking platforms into the course structure by creating a course page or account, making it easier for participants to connect with you and other participants.

Wikis and Collaborative Documents: These might be used in a few different ways. For one, wikis could be a great way for your online courses to build and maintain class notes and references. Wikis and other collaborative documents also facilitate group work, creating a central hub for you and your classmates to work together on a shared project. Moodle has a built-in wiki feature that allows students to collaborate, edit, and comment on common documents asynchronously.

IV.4 What if I am not able to connect with my students via synchronous video?

Although nice, synchronous video interaction is not always necessary for online instruction. Several platforms exist to support live chat features without a video interface. The Moodle platform supports a chat feature. Microsoft Teams, part of Microsoft 365, has a chat feature that keeps chat history, and allows for one-on-one, group, or small group chat. Other options for free chat platforms include Chatzy or YO Teach.

Additionally, Moodle forums allows students to upload short video clips (clips larger than 2-3 minutes are often too large) in response to a prompt or assignment in an asynchronous fashion. Applications like WhatsappMarco Polo, or FlipGrid also allow students to create group chats where they can send and listen to short recordings using their cell phones.

IV.5 What resources exist to create video recordings or screen capture compilations from home?

Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to record a slide show with narration and slide timings and upload that to any shared digital platform. Several other tools with free options like ScreenCast-O-Matic, Renderforest, and Animaker exist that support easy video recording, editing, and sharing from your home office.

Zoom can also be used for this purpose by setting up a room to yourself and recording your lecture. Please keep in mind that if you are recording your Zoom session to share with your students these should be recorded LOCALLY and then uploaded online (e.g. Box, Youtube, Vimeo) for student access. Links generated from these sites can be shared in Moodle. Please do not record these sessions to the Zoom cloud as Furman’s Zoom cloud space will quickly fill and your recording will not be saved. 

IV.6 How might I have students submit assignments that involve drawing, completing formulas, or showing their work?

For those interested in capturing more advanced input responses (formulas, calculations, etc.) to assignments or assessment tasks, consider using draw and write with ink features in Office 365 applications (word, excel, PowerPoint) to capture student work (equations, formulas, show-your-work scenarios).

IV.7 I usually provide assignment feedback in writing on paper documents or face-to-face, how might I do that electronically?

Textual feedback can easily be integrated into electronic documents using track-changes features like those offered in Microsoft Word. Once you’ve received your student assignment files, you can annotate those assignments with your suggested changes and comments, save that file, and send it back to your students with your feedback.

Spoken feedback can also be shared with your students through remote instruction. Three free tools below provide you with options for recording spoken feedback and sharing that with your students.

  • SoundCloud: An easy audio-recording tool that you can embed in your learning-management system so students can click an arrow and play your recording.
  • Vocaroo: A simple, PC-friendly tool for recording your voice. You can immediately get a link to the recording and give it to students.
  • Kaizena: A site that helps you provide verbal feedback directly on student documents and track their progress by comparing your feedback history over multiple assignments.
IV.8 How can I create an email distribution list for phone tree for my course?

If certain types of synchronous interaction aren’t available because of increased demand or if internet access limited altogether, you may want to have email distribution lists developed for each of your courses as back-up. You can also create a simple phone tree in Microsoft excel.  

IV.9 It is taking a long time to upload my video lectures or recordings of class sessions online – what can I do?

This is likely because of poor or limited connectivity at your location. On strategy to reduce the size of the video files you want to upload involves compressing those files before you attempt to put them online. This document may be useful as you consider video quality and editing when selecting a compression size. The document lists several desktop and web file compression options for you to consider. 

IV.10 I use a document camera regularly in my instruction. Is there a way for me to create a document camera at home?

Furman’s Joe Hiltabidel has created this short video to walk you through the process of building a quick document camera at home using Zoom meetings, your cell phone, and your computer! 

V. Community Health and Wellbeing

V.1 What mental health resources exist for me during this period of disruption?

Faculty support services will remain fully functional regardless of instructional scenarios this fall. This includes colleagues here to support your technical challenges, your pedagogical development, and your personal health and wellbeing. Other forms of support are also available to you. This includes:  

Several resources you might utilize include:

For more on faculty self-care and balance during the pandemic, please see here.

V.2 How can I support our Furman alumni during this time?

In times of daily uncertainty, it can be a comfort to engage an eager audience on topics that highlight our expertise and foster a culture of inquiry. Furman alumni are especially eager to remain connected to our community during this time. If you might be interested in sharing your knowledge with Furman alumni in a Zoom lecture, discussion, or concert, please contact Allison Foy. 

V.3 I am concerned about students that have been impacted by the pandemic. Is there anything I can do to help?

The university has created the For Furman Fund for anyone who wants to provide financial support for students or the university during the pandemic. The United Way of South Carolina has a number of resources on their 211 website that may be of value to your students. 

V.4 What kinds of course contingency plans should I have in place should I become ill?

Each department will develop contingency plans for course coverage in the event a member of your department becomes ill and is unable to continue course instruction. However, you might also consider the following to prepare for such an event: 

  • Draft an out-of-office message (sample here) with contact information for those who should be contacted if you are unavailable.  
  • Add at least one colleague to your Moodle course (instructions here) so that they can access the course if you are unable to do so. 
  • Set up an alternative host for your course Zoom sessions.  
  • Prepare and post course material as far in advance as possible so that students have access to material like course readings, external content (videos, simulations), or assignment documents in the event you become ill for a short period of time. 
  • Discuss contingency plans with your students so they are aware of how to proceed and who to contact if you become ill and are unable to continue instruction.