Note: The Canvas learning management system (LMS) is the recommended option across MIT. Stellar/LMOD will continue to be available and supported by IS&T for those who wish to use it.
Innovations in Remote Teaching
Instructors across MIT continue to support their students and adapt their classes to fully online environments. Read about the diverse and creative ways that faculty are making the transition on Residential Digital Innovations.
- Asynchronous Lectures
- Synchronous Lectures
- Non-lecture Classes (e.g. labs, design/projects, performances)
For classes that use slides, consider recording voiceover audio, using the built in features of Powerpoint, Keynote, or Google Slides. You can then upload your completed slides to Dropbox for your students to view. This option does require you to record audio slide-by-slide.
If you prefer to record your lecture while simultaneously advancing through your slides for more natural pacing, consider screen recording software such as Quicktime Player (Mac) or the built-in screen recording (Windows). Video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom) that allow you to share your screen and create recordings can also be used. Some have the option of directly saving to the cloud, which will save you a step in your process of sharing videos with students.
Consider segmenting your lecture by learning objective, topic, or skill so that you have multiple shorter videos (5-15 min in length). This will facilitate the recording process by allowing you to take breaks and will also help learners stay focused. Intersperse conceptual questions or short exercises for students to do as they watch your lectures so that they can check their understanding. Fluent tablet users may wish to screen capture handwritten notes as they lecture.
You do not need to worry about perfect production quality. You can talk as you would in front of your class. Clear audio is important, so try to record your videos in a quiet space.
FOR MIT SLOAN, WHICH USES CANVAS
MIT Sloan courses are automatically scheduled to record within Zoom. To transfer videos to Canvas, see further instructions here. Other video may be uploaded directly to Canvas (see “Videos” located on your Canvas course navigation menu). For help, contact Sloan-Canvas-Support@mit.edu.
The following sections apply to all of MIT outside of Sloan.
DO NOT UPLOAD VIDEOS DIRECTLY TO STELLAR/LMOD.
These systems were not designed to host large files and could fail under the strain. Depending on local circumstances, preferences, and what you are familiar with from past experience, consider using one of the 4 options, which involve posting the videos elsewhere. and linking to them in your course pages.
For videos that you record in Zoom, we recommend that you save them there (in the "Zoom Cloud"). MIT is paying Zoom for this service and we have a legal agreement protecting data privacy. You can then share a link to that video via your site.
Note: Some of you are creating videos in Zoom for asynchronous use and others are planning to teach synchronously in Zoom and record the session. Doing the latter should be solely for the purpose of sharing a recording of a class session with the students in your class. We recommend telling your students up front that this is the only way in which you will use these videos.
- You can store videos in MIT’s Dropbox. All faculty, instructors & Fall 2020 TA’s have 10 TB Dropbox quota for this purpose now (other staff now have had their quotas increased to 500GB). Dropbox is primarily used for storage, although videos can stream from there and can be linked to from Stellar/LMOD or elsewhere. However, Dropbox is not principally a video streaming service, so playback may not always be optimal.
- Unlisted YouTube: As long as it is unlisted and the link is shared only with our students, this is acceptable for now, although those videos may need to come down or be captioned after this semester. If someone circulates links to your videos for some reason, nothing stops someone who is not one of your students seeing them.
- ODL Video Service (OVS) streams videos and you can control access securely via IS&T Moira lists, allowing you to stream videos only to your MIT students. You can set up an OVS channel and control access to it securely via IS&T Moira lists, allowing you to stream videos only to your MIT students. (The workflow involves first uploading each video in Dropbox.) We recommend OVS over Unlisted YouTube to anyone who prefers this feature, and particularly recommend it if your lectures include copyrighted materials (e.g. on slides). OVS is also advantageous for students in regions of the world where YouTube is blocked. Videos can only be streamed and not downloaded from OVS. To use OVS, send a request to: email@example.com. Learn more about OVS here.
- Panopto: More information coming soon.
If the majority of your class content is taught using a blackboard, email James Cain at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule lightboard capture and/or MIT Video Productions at email@example.com to schedule classroom filming.
Please note that there are a limited number of automated lecture capture rooms on campus, so you are advised to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate your lecture recording.
Stellar, LMOD, and Canvas have message/discussion forums to support online discussions:
Ask that students watch an existing online lecture (MITx, OCW content, or other subjects) or an archived video from a prior semester’s class session – if available. The lecture / video does not need to be the same instructor or session topic if adjustments can be made accordingly to the syllabus.
If faculty have an MITx course, we can set up a new instance on the residential platform, as needed. Contact email@example.com.
If faculty have a MITx course and only want access to their videos, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If faculty have had their classroom lectures filmed and stored for future use, contact email@example.com.
Web conferencing tools combine video, audio, and screen sharing to create a real-time online class experience or to effectively host research group meetings and office hours. Students can view and listen to your presentation, ask questions in real-time, and then review the recording, as needed.
Instructors have two options (WebEx and Zoom) that can be used to offer live or pre-recorded online lectures, or to facilitate live discussion sections and/or recitations. For both of these options, consider how you can make classroom activities more active by:
- Having students write and comment together on a shared Google Doc.
- Using Poll Everywhere, Google Forms, Socrative or other online classroom response systems to collect student responses, and then share results with students online.
Ensure you have a computer with a camera (unless your presentation will be a screenshare only) and a microphone. As mentioned above, if you do not have a computer that meets the requirements needed to teach remotely, you may request loaner equipment here.
Webex is available to all members of MIT. IS&T has confirmed that the service has sufficient bandwidth to handle widespread use in such a situation.
- IS&T WebEx Knowledge Base
- WebEx Events Getting Started guide
- Team Collaboration - Use the Whiteboard on Cisco Webex Board
Zoom is available to all members of MIT. MIT's license provides faculty and staff the ability to conduct online meetings of up to 500 participants, and other members of the MIT community the ability to conduct online meetings of up to 300 participants. Log in to the Zoom web portal via mit.zoom.us.
For more information and tips on providing a positive online teaching, learning, and working experience for you, your students, and your colleagues, visit the IS&T Knowledge Base article on "Limiting Access and Reducing Disruptive Behavior in Zoom", and the Zoom blog post on "How to Keep the Party Crashers from Crashing Your Zoom Event".
Tips for Using Zoom to Teach1
- Test your audio and video well before teaching using Zoom for the first time, especially if you are planning to use Zoom from an off-campus location.
- Share your screen to show slides or other materials and ask students to share their screens to present:
- Sharing your screen makes sure content and questions are visible to students who may have a slow Internet connection or who may struggle to hear the audio.
- Annotate and mark on the screen, or draw on a whiteboard.
- Break your class into smaller groups for managing discussions or projects as you would in a regular class.
- Use the chat feature to answer questions or share learning resources. Students can also use the chat feature to ask questions:
- Moderate discussion, i.e., “call on” a student with a comment to speak, to help them break into the conversation.
- For larger classes, assign a DLF, co-instructor, or TA to moderate the chat. For smaller classes, it may be worthwhile to ask a student (or two) to take on special roles as “chat monitors” to voice if there are questions that arise that the instructor has missed.
- You might use the chat to troubleshoot technical problems. For example, if a student is having trouble connecting via audio or video, the chat might be a space for you as the instructor or for fellow students to work together to problem-solve, especially if you have students eager to help on the technical aspect of things.
- Record your class so students can review materials.
- Poll your students to check for understanding.
- Consider making discussion questions available in advance so that students can access the questions if screen sharing does not work.
- Host virtual office hours.
- If your microphone is not working, use the phone number listed in the Zoom invitation when you set up a Zoom call. You can use your phone as the microphone and audio source for your call rather than your computer’s built-in microphone if necessary.
- If your Internet connection is slow or lagging, consider temporarily turning off your video stream and only maintaining the audio stream. Running the web camera on your computer can use up the Internet’s bandwidth. Turning off the video should improve communication quality and consistency.
- If you have earbuds or a headphone set, wear them! Earbuds or headphones will reduce the amount of noise that your computer will pick up, which will make it easier for your students to hear you, and vice versa for your students.
- Advise students to mute their microphones if they are not speaking and unmute their microphones when they wish to speak. Students may be joining Zoom calls from all kinds of different locations, many of which may create background noise that could be distracting. As a host, you can also mute all participants in the call at the same time and encourage students to use the “raise hand” feature to let you know when they wish to speak.
- Check the “chat” space for student questions and contributions. Some students may not have working microphones and, therefore, may be unable to contribute via voice.
Accessibility Suggestions for Zoom
- Automatic live captioning is not available in Zoom (automatic captions are visible if you record a Zoom session). You may wish to use Google Slides and enable the live captioning feature within Google Slides. If you share your screen using Google Slides, your voice will be captured and live captions will appear. See Present Slides with Captions (via Google Drive support) for more information.
- For students who are blind or have low visibility, narrate the material that you’re displaying visually on the screen. Just as you might read materials aloud in class, read screen material that you share on-screen just in case students are not able to see essential text.
Zoom Support & Tutorials
- IS&T Support Page for Zoom
- MIT Sloan guide to Teaching with Zoom and Canvas
If you teach a project-, performance-, or lab-based subject, you may need to find acceptable substitutes for your planned assignments and assessments.
In the event that students will not have access to labs/makerspaces, they can be asked to scale down their projects so that they can be worked on at home. For example, instead of 3D printing parts, they may end up using cardboard or whatever materials they have on hand in their living spaces.
If the majority of the hands-on component of the subject is complete, student teams can continue to meet at their regular lab time via Zoom to discuss final presentations - and/or modified assignments related to the project.
Some subjects may be able to utilize and/or shift to a paper- or CAD-based project.
Design reviews with faculty and instructors can be held via Zoom or WebEx.
While it may seem difficult to replace a physical lab with an online experience, consider the learning goals of the lab and if any of them can be met through other means. Online resources such as video demonstrations and simulations may be available. Check with your textbook publisher or sites such as Merlot Virtual Labs, Phet Interactive Simulations, the American Chemical Society’s list of Virtual Chemistry and Simulations, the University of Colorado’s LearnChemE website, and MIT Mathlets for materials that may replace parts of your lab.
In some lab-based classes, students can be asked to analyze data (collected from the associated experiments in previous semesters or from public data sets). In these cases, students can meet virtually in lab-groups to analyze data using collaborative tools such as Google Sheets.
Depending on the specific nature of the subject, you can ask students film their performances and upload the recordings to be shared (with you or with other members of the class).
1: Modified from Arizona State Universities guidelines for teaching remotely.