Despite widespread access to the Internet, some of your students for various reasons, including living in rural areas or lack of financial resources, may still be without consistent, reliable high-speed Internet access. Moreover, during times of emergency, students may need to help care for a sick relative or may have issues with housing that can impede their ability to log into a course at a regular day and time to participate. To maintain equitable access for all students, it is important to provide opportunities for students to complete work asynchronously in an online course when they are unable to meet with the rest of the course at a regular day and time or access content every day of the week.
In the event that some of your students do not have consistent, reliable Internet access, develop opportunities for students to complete the work asynchronously when they only may have access 2 or 3 days per week. Try to do the following to accommodate these students:
- Provide recordings of any live, synchronous sessions using WebEx that can be downloaded to be viewed or listened to offline.
- Provide options for students to download MP4 files of any recorded lectures that can be saved and viewed later. This can be done downloading a recording from TechSmith Relay and uploading to a Brightspace course through Upload/Create, Add Video or Audio. Alternatively, MP4 files can also be uploaded to a Box Folder that can be shared with students.
- If possible, offer an audio version of a video lectures that can be easier to access or download with limited Internet speeds. Audacity is a free podcasting tool that you could run simultaneously with lecture capture or WebEx. An MP3 audio file can be added to a Brightspace course through Upload/Create, Add Video or Audio.
- Recommend students contact their cell phone service provider to increase their access and speed. In these circumstances, many service providers are willing to temporarily increase access to help students with their online learning.
- Provide students with alternative options or assignments if they can’t participate or access certain items or technologies, such as a written response to questions posed to students in a live synchronous WebEx session or an alternative asynchronous online discussion forum in Brightspace/D2L for students to interact after watching a recording if they can’t participate in the live session.
- Extend due dates to include weekends to allow students who work and take care of family members additional time to complete work.
Alternatives to MSU Available Technologies
We encourage you to adopt and innovate with technology options that better meet your online teaching needs or work better for you and your students. Although MSU UIT, ATO and CFE may not provide training and technical support for these technologies, there are some practices and considerations to follow to make their use go more smoothly for you and your students:
- You should be prepared to support students in the use of these technologies. Practice with the tool before introducing it in a class setting and only include it in your course if you feel confident that you know how to use it.
- Avoid assuming that all your students are advanced users of technology. Just because they are younger does not mean they are comfortable with or have the ability to learn new technologies quickly. Not only do they have to learn the content, but also learn a new technology or format. Adopting a new technology too quickly could increase your student’s anxiety and stress, which can negatively impact their learning.
- Provide resources to your students for how to use the technology such as video and screenshot tutorials put out by the company or create your own for areas where students are getting tripped up or stuck.
- Ease your students into the use of the tool. Start with low or no stakes introductory tasks before working up to any high-stakes projects or assessments.
- Be prepared with a backup or alternative plan in case the technology fails. Given that the shift to online teaching and remote working has increased the load on technology and bandwidth, these technologies may fail. Have a working backup plan in place in case this occurs and provide clear instructions to students in the event that you need to utilize this plan.