Greetings Faculty and SDSU Community. In response to the rapidly changing landscape and the move to Virtual Instruction, ITS has received hundreds of questions. This page will fill you in on some of the resources available to you, responses (not always answers) to the most common questions, and steps you can take to get comfortable with this new way of providing instruction.
What is the Virtual Faculty Instructional Technology (FIT) Center, and where is it located?
Drop-in to the Virtual FIT Center to get just-in-time support via Zoom. ITS Instructional Designers, faculty fellows, and student assistants are at the ready to assist you from 8am-6:30pm M-TH, and 8am-4:30 on Fridays. Faculty can “visit” the Virtual FIT Center by visiting http://sdsu.zoom.us/my/sdsuits using a computer or mobile device. All you need is the link, a camera/microphone, and a question you would like us to answer. We are here to help!
What is ServiceNow, and how do I submit a ServiceNow ticket for help?
ServiceNow is a help desk system. When you submit a ServiceNow ticket, it is routed to the Information Technology group or groups on campus who are best equipped to respond to your request. To submit a ServiceNow ticket:
- Log into https://servicenow.sdsu.edu/ using your SDSUid.
- Click on SDSU Help Desks in the Self Service homepage.
- Select Create Incident ( Help Desk).
- Select Instructional Support (ITS) as the Category, and complete the remaining fields with as much detail as possible.
- Click Submit.
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on submitting a ticket in ServiceNow.
How do I offer accessible resources to my students?
Thinking about your students’ accessibility needs (especially if you have students in your class with specific accommodations), is important. Here are some resources and tips to help offer virtual options: https://accessibility.sdsu.edu/covid_accessibility
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on resources available for meeting student accessibility needs for online instruction.
How do I virtually support students who use sign language interpreters?
Students who normally use sign language interpreters should continue to communicate course information, changes, needs, and/or concerns to SASCinterpreting@nullsdsu.edu.
How do I virtually support students who use alternative media or assistive technology?
Beginning Tuesday, March 17, all SASC offices will be operating virtually, including the Test Accommodation Center (TAC). Please do not physically visit the TAC as all in-person exams have been canceled. If your students have questions or concerns about exam accommodations, please have them send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I prevent cheating while students are attending virtually?
Refer to this Assessing Students Virtually Document for strategies you can incorporate in your courses to help students succeed and learn, while deterring academic integrity issues.
How do I get access to Respondus Test Editor and/or Respondus LockDown Browser?
Campus leadership recommend faculty consider or explore alternative assessment strategies to replace midterm and final exams. Please view Associate Vice President of Faculty Advancement, Joanna Brooks’ video message to learn more.
Please click here to view a comprehensive resource on Respondus tools, and COVID-19 Respondus considerations and alternatives.
For additional questions, virtual drop-in training and assistance is available via our COVID-19 website. Our Virtual Faculty Instructional Technology (FIT) Center is open from Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Fridays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and can be accessed by clicking here during those hours.
How do I link my course to Gradescope?
When you set up a Gradescope account, you will be asked a number of questions, one being which learning management system to connect to Gradescope. After you set up your account, you are able to go into course settings and scroll down to see the ability to link your Canvas course and/or your Blackboard course. NOTE: If you were not using Gradescope at the beginning of the semester, please visit the Virtual FIT Center to see if this is an ideal option for your class.
See linear algebra professor, Dr. Peter Blomgren, walk through the Gradescope setup here (seconds 0:39-1:19).
How do I get started in Blackboard? It’s okay if you have this question. We are here for you.
Visit ITS’ Learning Management System page for resources to create tests and content for your class using Blackboard. If using Blackboard is new for you, go straight to the Blackboard Quickstart Guide to get up and running in no time.
How do I create a test in Blackboard?
Below is a technical explanation for test-building and administration using Blackboard. Read about our test-building tips to make the process smoother for you and your students.
Creating the test:
- Navigate to your Blackboard course
- Go to Course Tools under the Control Panel on the left-hand side
- Click on Tests, Surveys, and Pools
- Click on Tests
- Click Build Test
- Type in a name for your test, the Description and Instructions are optional fields
- Click Submit
- Click Create Question and select the appropriate type of question (Fill in the blank, multiple choice, etc.)
- Proceed by typing in the question and possible answers
- Enable the appropriate options and settings, then click Submit
- Continue creating the next questions by following steps 8-10
- Click OK when you are finished creating your test questions
Deploying the test:
- Navigate to the content area in your course where you would like your students to access the test (course documents, assignments, etc.)
- Once in your content area, click Assessments, then click Test
- You should see any tests you have already created in Add an Existing Test
- Select the appropriate test and click Submit
- Enable the appropriate settings and test options (test availability, due date, test presentation, etc.)
- Click Submit when you are done
- Your test should now appear in the corresponding content area
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on creating a test in Blackboard.
How do I give tests to students in multiple time zones?
SDSU Blackboard is set by default to Pacific Time. We recommend creating an assessment that is available for a wide duration of time (i.e. 8 a.m.-2 p.m.) but set the test timer to a narrow time (i.e. 45 minutes). We also suggest not showing the answers to the test until after the grades have been posted.
How do I give extra time for a particular student on a test?
There is a Test Availability Exceptions area within the Edit Test Options. You do not need to create another instance of the test to accommodate students needing more time.
- Edit the Test Options
- Scroll down to Test Availability Exceptions
- Select User
- Add additional time in the timer area.
How do I create and send an announcement to my students in Blackboard?
Announcements are a great way to communicate virtually with your students anything that you would normally announce in front of a class.
To create and send an announcement:
- Go to blackboard.sdsu.edu and sign in with your SDSUid.
- On your landing page, click Create Announcement.
- Fill out the subject and body of text.
- Be sure to click the check box “Send a copy of this announcement immediately”.
- Click Submit.
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on creating an announcement.
How do I send a direct email to a single student or group of students in my class through Blackboard?
- Go to blackboard.sdsu.edu and sign in with your SDSUid.
- In your Blackboard course menu bar under Course Management, click on Course Tools > Send email.
- Click on Single / Select Users.
- Highlight the students you would like to include in the email and click the right arrow to move them into the box titled Selected.
- Type email in subject and text body.
- Check the box below that says Return Receipt to receive a copy of the email.
- Click Submit.
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on sending a direct email.
How do I add content in Blackboard?
Most common document formats (PDF, Word document, Powerpoint, Excel spreadsheet) may be uploaded to Blackboard in any content area of your course menu (Course Documents, Assignments, Syllabus, Week 1,2,3, etc.).
Because of their file size, videos should NOT be uploaded directly to Blackboard but rather uploaded to a streaming service such as YouTube, Vimeo, Zoom, or our campus streaming service Mediasite. You may then share a link to the video with your students in Blackboard.
To upload content to your Blackboard course:
- Click on the content area where you would like to add the content.
- Click on the Build Content tab, then click Item. (Do not click on File as this is a misnomer and will not allow you to add your content).
- If you wish to organize your files in a folder, click Build Content, then click on Content Folder.
- If you wish to add a web link, click on Build Content, then Add Web Link.
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on adding content to Blackboard.
How do I create an assignment in Blackboard?
An assignment can be added to any content area in your Blackboard course. To add an assignment:
- Click on the Assignments content area or any content area of your choice in the drop down menu on the left.
- Once you open the Content Area, click on the Assessments dropdown menu and click on Assignments.
- Name the assignment and fill out the instructions in the text body area.
- In the Grading section, fill out the number of points possible for the assignment.
- If you would like to create a group assignment you can do so by clicking Group Submission in the Submission Details section.
- It is also recommended to click Allow Multiple Attempts in in the Submission Details section, especially when the student needs to submit multiple documents.
- Click Submit.
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on creating an assignment in blackboard.
How do I promote discussion online with Blackboard?
Blackboard has a discussion board tool that can be used for facilitating discussion amongst your students. You can create writing prompts for students to respond (like a discussion topic from a reading) which you can assign grading points. You can also create a Q&A discussion for students to answer each other’s questions about the course, assignments, etc. To setup a discussion board on Blackboard:
- In your menu bar, click on Discussions.
- On the Discussion Board, click Create Forum.
- Add subject and text.
- If needed, assign points by clicking Grade Discussion Forum in the Forum Settings.
- Click Submit.
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on setting up a discussion board.
Why are new courses that are not my own appearing in my course list?
If you registered for, or participated in, a Virtual Instruction Primer (VIP) workshop through ITS, you will have been enrolled in a list of example courses as a reference for how other faculty are using Blackboard. These are not real courses and can be removed by following the instructions in this video: https://youtu.be/e4_GiqcN-Jc
Are faculty permitted to change their syllabi?
From AVP Stephen Schellenberg: See Academic Responsibilities within Faculty section of University Policy File, particularly selected excerpts below:
“A syllabus shall not bind the instructor to specific details, and the instructor shall retain the right to adjust the course design. Major departures from the syllabus, however, especially with regard to student learning outcomes, major assignment due dates and exam dates, and grading policies, shall be made only for compelling reasons.”
“Any major changes to the course syllabus shall be announced in class, communicated to all students electronically, and incorporated into an updated and posted version of the syllabus.”
Is there sample syllabus language I can adopt or adapt?
A faculty member from Journalism and Media Studies, Nathian Rodriguez, has shared this excerpt that he recently used to amend his syllabus related to the migration to virtual instruction due to COVID-19.
Please feel free to copy, paste, and modify this language to amend your syllabus.
How can I replicate the classroom experience of drawing on the whiteboard for students?
By using an iPad (or Windows Surface Pro) along with a stylus, faculty can create video recordings to write and draw on a digital whiteboard while narrating a lesson or responding to student questions. Click on the link to watch a short demonstration on how to accomplish this with an iPad and Apple Pencil: https://youtu.be/kGQBnkO16LY. Another solution would be to use a Wacom tablet with Zoom.
For a lower-tech solution, you may also consider using some ingenuity along with your iPhone hooked up to your computer to create a homemade document camera.
Can I show a DVD in my virtual class session?
A copyright librarian has recommended the following for faculty who would like to play a legally purchased (by the faculty member or the Library) DVD on their computer and share their screen with their class:
- Don’t record the session
- Only allow registered students in the course to access the Zoom session. Distribute the link via Blackboard/Canvas for example, not on the open web.
- DVDs will work for screen sharing, but streaming services may be able to detect the screen share and disable that ability (So Netflix/Hulu may be a no go due to their technology). While Netflix and other services may have terms of service that disallow screen sharing, there is no market harm from this activity because there is no time to negotiate public display rights.
- Use only the portion necessary to support your pedagogy (don’t show the whole thing unless you have to).
- Instructor commentary greatly increases the fair use defense of this activity – show a portion of the film, then lecture and discuss, then show more.
What is the Immediate Access Program?
The Immediate Access Program is designed to help students save money and have access to their materials by the first day of class. The program is a team effort between the Bookstore, the University, and the publishers to provide students with the best cost savings.
What are the benefits to the Immediate Access Program?
Immediate Access provides all students with an equal opportunity to get ahead in class. By having early access to the materials, students can be better prepared for their course. The trial period before the add/drop date allows students to preview their materials without committing to purchase, and eliminates the stress of searching for the most affordable prices for those materials. The specially discounted prices in Immediate Access are exclusive to the program and are not available through any other party. Furthermore, because the Bookstore is a not-for-profit campus partner that returns its proceeds to the University, your participation in Immediate Access will benefit SDSU programs.
What resources are available to faculty using Immediate Access?
The use of publisher materials in Immediate Access can help faculty save time as well as give insight into your student’s interaction with the materials. Many publishers have test banks available for use for student assessment. The use of publisher courseware (Connect, MyLab, MindTap, etc…) offer tools that promote your student’s engagement with the learning materials and the option to include assessments within the learning modules. The use of standalone eText within Immediate Access also provides faculty members access to an analytics dashboard that contains student engagement data.
How can I learn more about the Immediate Access Program, and whether my course is a candidate?
Additional information can be found here: www.shopaztecs.com/immediateaccess. To have your course participate in Immediate Access contact Cyra Velasquez (Cyra.Velasquez@nulldarth.sdsu.edu) and Ben Compton (email@example.com) from the Aztec Shops Course Materials department.
Will students have access to online textbooks and/or course readers through the bookstore/Montezuma publishing?
How can I use/edit my previous semester’s Mediasite recordings for this semester?
You are able access to previous semesters’ Mediasite recordings. You can access these recordings by logging onto mediasite.sdsu.edu using your SDSUid.
Instructions linked here, will walk you though how to share individual recordings to your Blackboard course.
You can also edit your recordings using the instructions linked here.
How do I teach a Virtual Lab?
The CSU Chancellor’s Office has organized a group of resources and testimonials from CSU faculty who have designed virtual lab experiences in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics, earth/environmental science, engineering, and math/statistics.
MERLOT Virtual Labs Portal (https://virtuallabs.merlot.org/): MERLOT has created a collection of free and open virtual labs across a variety of STEM disciplines that can be very effective in supporting online instruction for laboratory courses.
Virtual Labs Teaching ePortfolios (https://virtuallabs.merlot.org/eportfolios.html): The Virtual Labs portal provides a collection of ePortfolios by faculty implementing virtual labs, as well as research on the effectiveness of virtual labs.
How do I manage the deluge of email I am now receiving, from both students and colleagues?
Gmail has several tools that can help keep your email under control, including filters, labels, stars and templates. For example, you can create a filter to send an automatic response to messages coming from your students, or always star emails coming from your Dean or department chair so they do not get lost in your inbox. For explanations of each of these tools, see the following videos:
- Managing Digital Communications, Part I [Email filters]
- Managing Digital Communications, Part II [Labels, stars and templates]
- Managing Digital Communications, Part III [Triage your inbox]
What suggestions do you have for staying productive now that I am sharing my ‘office’ with my spouse / kids / extended family?
Even those who are used to working from home are finding themselves navigating a new world where entire families are trying to work and learn while sharing space and bandwidth. To maintain productivity and household harmony, try these strategies:
- Everyone should have a schedule. Parents need to be clear about when they are and are not working; kids need structure to ensure they keep learning.
- Designate spaces for different activities. Having a place specifically designated for ‘work’ or ‘schoolwork’ can help everyone maintain boundaries and keep focused when they need to.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Have a proactive discussion with everyone in the house about what is happening and what is expected from each household member. Check in with each other often, but also try not to take things personally; when you are stuck in a house with others, it is even more important to resolve small issues before they become big problems.
- Make sure you are taking time for self-care. Almost everything about the current situation – uncertainty about the virus, requirements to shelter in place, massive changes in campus operations – creates stress with limited options for relief. It is crucial that we do what is necessary to cope and maintain our mental and emotional health.
How do I login to Zoom?
To access Zoom, go to sdsu.zoom.us and click sign in. If not signed into your SDSU id, you will be taken to the Sign Sign On (SSO) page. If you are using the Zoom app, a window will pop-up with sign in options. Click “Login with SSO” and select sdsu.zoom.us as your domain. Once logged in, you can schedule and join meetings via your web browser, Zoom desktop application, Zoom mobile app, or telephone.
For more information and tips on teaching and communicating with your students using Zoom, visit, https://its.sdsu.edu/web-conferencing/.
How do I schedule a Zoom meeting?
To create a meeting in Zoom login to sdsu.zoom.us using your SDSUid. Once logged in you will see “Schedule a meeting” in the top right corner. Click on “Schedule a meeting” and you will be taken to a new page. You will be prompted to titled the meeting and have the option to add a description. Continue down the page and you will see the options to schedule the meeting on a specific date and at a specific time. Once you have set the meeting for your chosen date and time you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and save the meeting.
*If you would like to invite someone to the meeting you can copy a link address that will be available to you after you save the meeting. For more information visit the ITS SDSU Zoom Resource page.
What’s the best way to share Zoom recordings via Blackboard?
- Navigate to the Build Content Area in Blackboard. (For a refresher, go to the Blackboard QuickStart Guide);
- Create Web Link in Content Area;
- Give the link a title and paste the link into the URL box.
Why am I not receiving an email for my Zoom Cloud recording?
Due to an increase in demand during this time, you may experience a delay before your recording is available. This may take several hours, up to a few days, as Zoom is now heavily relied upon globally for education, work, and social communication. When the recording processing is complete, you will receive the recording and notification via email.
To shorten the time it takes for processing, we recommend making shorter recordings, 6-12 minutes is recommend to chunk content for students, but recordings less than an hour long will reduce the wait.
You may also record locally to your computer instead, and then upload or share the video via YouTube, Google Drive, etc.
I have more than 300 students in my class. How do I offer virtual instruction if I have more than 300 users?
If you have to teach synchronously, and find that more than 300 students log on at the same time, please consider the following:
- Pre-record your lectures (in shorter segments; ideally 6-12 minutes). This will reduce the load on the Zoom platform, which is now supporting millions of users. You students will benefit from being able to rewatch the content, and to access the lecture from their home, which may no longer be in the PDT time zone. A short 1:43 video showing how to screen record is available at https://youtu.be/D73AkGSO_9o.
- There are a limited number of licenses that accommodate more than 300 Zoom participants in webinar mode. You need to submit a ServiceNow ticket to make this request.
How can I have students create virtual presentations and share them with me for grading?
Students have access to a Zoom Pro account, just like faculty and staff, at http://sdsu.zoom.us. They can record solo or group presentations with video and screen sharing. Be sure to have students use the Record to Cloud feature in Zoom so that they may submit the recording link, rather than a video file. An easy way to collect their recordings is to have them submitted as an assignment in Blackboard. Alternatively, you could set up a simple Google Form and Sheet. That way, when you go to view their presentations, you can note their score in the spreadsheet and transfer it to Blackboard in order for students to get their score and feedback.
Instructions linked here will help students getting started with Zoom.
How do I keep my Zoom Meetings Private and Secure?
You can have unintended guests at your Zoom meetings if you aren’t careful about setting up privacy controls. Once in a Zoom session, uninvited guests can listen in on discussions, capture screenshots of shared content, and even disrupt the meeting with unwanted video, audio, or shared content.
These key recommended settings will help you to keep your Zoom meetings private and secure.
Are there any protocols for appropriate behaviour while in a virtual classroom?
- Students should mute their microphones unless they are talking to avoid distracting background noise.
- Students (and teachers) should dress as though they were in a real classroom setting (at least from the waist up).
- Eating and drinking while participating is discouraged as it can be a distraction.
- To ensure a good connection, students should be encouraged to locate themselves close to their wireless router or connect directly to the router with an ethernet cable.
- If the internet is becoming unstable, students can turn off their webcam to reduce bandwidth use.
- When possible, try to sit with a window or light source in front of you rather than behind you. If the light source is coming from behind, the camera will darken your image.
- Check your webcam image and make sure that you are in the center of the frame without cutting off your head or neck or other essential body part.
Click on the link to watch a quick video on the dos and don’ts of webcam etiquette.
Zoombombing: How do I keep uninvited users from crashing my zoom meeting and posting inappropriate content?
Due to the increased reliance upon Zoom for virtual meetings, many users holding public meetings have experienced unwanted participants hijacking their Zoom meetings to project inappropriate content.
As of April 8th, 2020, Zoom has published a security update to make it easier for users to keep unwanted guests from disrupting their meetings.
If you have not yet updated your Zoom app, when you open the app you will be prompted to update (version 4.6.10). Once updated you will see a Security icon on the left hand side of the toolbar. If you click on the icon you will see a pop up menu that now gives you all your security options in one convenient location, including:
- “Lock Meeting”, so that no one can enter once you’ve begun.
- “Enable Waiting Room”, so that attendees must wait to be let in.
- Enable or disable participants ability to “Share Screen”, “Chat”, or “Rename Themselves”.
- “Remove Participants”, by clicking the menu option and once the pop up window has opened, clicking “Remove” on the participant you wish to remove.
- In addition, when you are sharing your screen, click on the security icon in the toolbar and you will see an option at the bottom of the menu to allow participants to “Annotate On Shared Content” which can be enabled or disabled as needed.
- Finally, if you need to quickly mute participants, you can click on the Participants icon on the toolbar and there is a “Mute All” button at the bottom of the participants pop up window. Be sure to uncheck “Allow Participants to Unmute Themselves” when prompted.
Click on the link to watch a video walkthrough on disabling screen sharing for participants.