The Coronavirus (COVID-19) and
Remote Teaching and Learning at West Point
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread rapidly in the U.S. and abroad, West Point leaders are preparing for the possibility that some cadets and faculty will need to remain in isolation for some time. Leaders, course directors, and faculty should maintain the high rigor of our courses while also recognizing that adjustment of expectations of what can reasonably be accomplished in these trying circumstances is warranted. This webpage is devoted to resources that faculty should consider using if they, or some of their cadets, are unable to attend classes in person. This page will be updated periodically as additional information and resources becomes available. If you are aware of resources that are useful, but not presented here, please contact Dr Mark Evans or Mr Patrick Gill so that additional content may be added.
Online Office Hours for Remote Teaching and Learning Support (Office 365 and Blackboard Collaborate)
USMA - Remote Training Seminar on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
- "Assignments & Grades - Session 1025-1055" https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/6bdfa7a674d64b4383f0e4530d345e43
- "Host Class through Collaborate - Session 1135 - 1130" https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/96291c4a9b834757be8afffeace8d40c
- "Set up Discussions & Share Content - Session 1135 - 1205" https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/b914db754fdb49438fd7078d7df6b1b0
- "Preparing for Remote Teaching - Session 1210 - 1240" https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/1314d8f8cb4740838c4e4c53f4255b13
- "Assignments & Grades - Session 1330 - 1400" https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/79144c0bc02b4f9bb938bd4fa95e4739
- "Host Class through Collaborate - Session 1405 - 1435" https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/8e0273016a21495cb6f449b5ba646a70
- "Set up Discussions & Share Content - Session 1440 - 1510" https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/468b1472a1924729bf87d2c088bdb14e
Useful resources referenced during the sessions
Bb Resources: blackboard.com/go/scale-teaching-and-learning-online
Continuity of Education Community Site: community.blackboard.com/groups/home/99
- Blackboard Help site for Instructors: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor
- Youtube for Blackboard Instructors: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLontYaReEU1tzu1T5gfiX-JQA5nBc3isN
- Presentation "Remote Teaching and Learning Seminar - Blackboard Sessions": Download PDF
General Guidance for Adapting Your Course to Remote Teaching and Learning
- Start by thinking about your essential course goals. Focusing on the most important elements of what you want your cadets to learn will help concentrate your efforts and help you make clear decisions about what to alter or adjust.
- Review and adjust your course policies as needed, including your policy on the late submission of work. You may need to be flexible with cadets who are working at a distance under certain circumstances (limited access to high-speed internet, for instance).
- You may also need to adjust your policy on participation and your in-class activities if the Academy advises social distancing. Cadets may need to sit or interact at a distance from one another. We advise you to discuss how you will make these adjustments with your cadets (in person or online) so that everyone in your class is working from a common set of expectations.
- You will need to clearly communicate your expectations to cadets and to your Instructors as plans for instruction change. Will you adjust assignments or due dates? Will cadets need to do anything differently to complete or submit those assignments? If you adopt a new instructional format, or if you practice social distancing, how do you expect cadets to participate or collaborate? What ideas may they have for maintaining the continuity of a course or establishing new forms of participation and presence, even at a distance?
- Blackboard and Office 365 are West Point’s primary platforms for remote teaching. Faculty may use other platforms as they see fit, but West Point is unable to provide support or training for them.
- Please remind cadets that the Honor Code remains in effect for online teaching or digital engagement.
Strategies for Direct Instruction - Digital Tools and Pedagogical Alternatives
Tips for Reducing Bandwidth Load
Having trouble with bandwidth at home due to remote teaching? Here are some tips that may help:
- The WREN has plenty of bandwidth. If you are able to do so without violating social distancing protocols, consider conducting synchronous sessions from your USMA office.
- If possible, connect via an ethernet cable directly to the source of your home internet. Many times, your router can deliver faster internet directly via cable rather than over Wi-Fi.
- All O365 services can work over standard internet, no VPN required. Consider only using your VPN connection for services that absolutely require it (e.g. AMS/CIS). Please Note: this applies only to private networks. If you are on a public network, you should absolutely use your VPN at all times.
- Turn off any streaming music or video services that you may have running. Ideally, ask others on your network to do the same during specific times that you are attempting to teach synchronously.
- Disconnect low-use devices from your network during the day. Even when not in active use, those devices may be pulling updates or other traffic that is slowing you down.
- Contact your service provider and identify yourself as an educator conducting remote teaching. They may be willing to temporarily upgrade your plan.
Remote Teaching and Learning Etiquette
- Joanna’s Working From Home (WFH) Tech Tip: Mute Your Mic
- The WFH Golden Rule, thou shalt mute your microphone, is easier said than done, especially when you can’t find the calling app among your 100 million open windows. So get an app to mute your mic easily from anywhere on your computer, either via the toolbar or a keyboard shortcut. For Windows 10 PCs, there’s Talk Toggle in the Windows Store. On a Mac, I like Mutify, but it isn’t available through the Mac App Store. (MuteMyMic, available in the Mac App Store, is more bare-bones.) Creators of these apps assured me they don’t collect any personal info or any audio from your microphone.
- Read all of Joanna’s WFH tips here. Send questions and suggestions to Senior Personal Tech Columnist Joanna Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at her WFH hotline: (314) 635-0388. Joanna might answer your message on our Tech News Briefing podcast, available wherever you listen.
Communicate Through Announcements (Blackboard)
Post Announcements with written or recorded messages for your cadets. This is the fastest way to communicate with your entire class from within Blackboard and leaves a record of the Announcement in the Blackboard space.
Host Class Virtually through Collaborate Ultra (Blackboard)
- You can schedule a virtual meeting through Collaborate. Collaborate is available in every Blackboard course and is West Point's preferred mechanism for online class meetings. In original course view, Collaborate Ultra is available in the Course Management menu under Course Tools. In Ultra courses, it is found in the Details and Actions menu on the left side of the main course page.
- Post an Announcement in your course notifying cadets of the date and time of the meeting. Cadets can access the meeting in your Blackboard course.by pointing to Tools in the Course Menu and clicking Blackboard Collaborate to access the Room Details page and click Join Room to enter the session.
- Set Collaborate to Record the meeting for cadets who are not able to attend. Recording the session in Collaborate helps you limit access to the class session to just the cadets in your section.
- Schedule, host, and record a Collaborate session with or without your cadets. You can then share the video in your course. Collaborate provides whiteboards for annotation, slides and screen share, and video and audio capture. Learn more about Collaborate.
Creating a Meeting with Microsoft Teams (Office 365)
Microsoft Teams is West Point’s alternative platform for real-time online hosting of meetings. Even if your class is not built as a Team, you can still add a Team meeting to any Outlook appointment. Teams meetings allow participants to join via computer (with video and/or voice only) or via phone. Participants can share their screens, and you can record the whole session for later playback
- Support Information and Video tutorials about using Microsoft Teams meetings.
- Microsoft offered a blog post with some great tips on how to successfully work from home: Staying productive while working remotely with Microsoft Teams
- We have a created an Evolve365 skill track on managing Microsoft Teams Meetings that will be exceptionally useful for those who choose to use Teams to remote teach: Manage Microsoft Teams Meetings
Storing and Sharing Files with Microsoft One Drive (Office 365)
Learn more about sharing files in OneDrive.
- Visit https://www.gcflearnfree.org/onedrive... for a text-based lesson.
Set up an Online Discussion (Blackboard)
Setting up a Blackboard discussion is an easy way to allow instructors to discuss course content or assignments with cadets, or for cadets to share work or ask questions.
- Create a discussion board in Blackboard Original View.
- Learn more about discussions and get recommendations.
- Creating and Working with Groups to make large classes more manageable.
Share Course Documents and Information (Blackboard)
Content pages in Blackboard provide a place for listing all course materials stored in the Blackboard Content Collection. Add files such as documents, PDFs, slides, or spreadsheets.
Assignments & Grading (Blackboard)
- Assignments in Blackboard allow cadets to submit assignments online, as well as allowing instructors to grade and provide feedback online.
- Learn how to create an Assignment for online submission.
- Learn about implementing SafeAssign to check for plagiarism.
- Learn how to grade cadet work and offer feedback through Inline Grading.
Administer Quizzes & Exams (Blackboard)
- Creating exams in Blackboard allows cadets to take exams and instructors to grade and provide feedback online.
- Using Respondus Lockdown Browser locks down the testing environment within Blackboard, helping to secure online exams.
Update Your Course Home Page (Blackboard)
- Set the Syllabus as your home page and include a message about new online components and expectations by creating a custom Homepage.
- If you are using Announcements to communicate with your cadets, suggest that they check their notifications preferences to ensure they will receive email copies.
- Always include contact information.
- Consider offering AI through Microsoft Teams Meetings or office hours through Collaborate.
A Guide to Distance Learning with Kahoot!
- The outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has caused many educational institutions to close temporarily and rely on distance learning.
- Kahoot! is used by millions of teachers and educators around the world, and in these challenging times, we want to ensure they can continue to teach. While our free version enables distance learning, we want to make sure educators have all the tools they need to fully engage students outside of the classroom.
- We’ve put together a guide to distance learning and why we’re providing schools affected by the coronavirus with free access to Kahoot! Premium for the remaining months of the academic year.
- With Kahoot! Premium, educators can use advanced question types, collaborate with colleagues, and access in-depth reports, which can be used for formative assessment.
Lessons Learned for Administering Online Exams via Blackboard in MA103
- Lessons Learned for Administering Online Exams via Blackboard (PDF)
- How to Deploy a Blackboard Exam (PDF)
West Point Resources
- The following West Point faculty may not be experts but are using the following tools in their courses and they are willing to share insights with you, please contact them directly for guidance. If you are willing to assist by adding your name, or a new topic to the list, please contact Dr. Mark Evans or Mr. Patrick Gill.
Department POC's for Remote Teaching and Learning:
BS&L -- CPT Tara Middlebrooks
CLS -- LTC Tim Hill
CME -- MAJ Joe Cymerman
DEP -- MAJ Vince Worrell
Arabic – MAJ Kathy Nowak (tentative)
Chinese – CPT Jeremy Gadinier (tentative)
French – Dr. Julia Praud
German – Dr. John Benjamin (MAJ Eric Simpson)
Persian – Ms. Stephanie Irani-Tehrani
Portuguese – Dr. Josh Enslen
Russian – Dr. John Pendergast
Spanish – Dr. Sherry Maggin
DPE -- PE215 – Dr. Daniel Jaffe, PE 450 – CPT Andy Ferreira, KN Courses – Dr. Jesse Germain
DSE -- COL Hise Gibson
DMI -- CPT Edward Olson
EECS - Dr. Charles "Chip" Schooler
GENE - LTC Ben Wallen
HIST -- LTC Luke Frank
LAW -- LTC(P) Winston Williams
MATH -- COL Joe Lindquist and COL Jake LaPorte
PANE -- COL David Phillips, MAJ Cat Barker
SCPME -- CPT Kim Kopack
SOSH -- MAJ Kyle Wolfley
- CIO/G6 offers videos and Powerpoint presentations of the Office 365 best practices seminar material from 26 FEB 20 and the following POC's for specific skill sets:
Hosting Virtual Meetings
MAJ Juan Ramos
CIO/G6 - Opns
Using Power BI to Enable Decision Making
Mr Jeff Demarest
DSE - ORCEN
O365 Room Scheduling
Mr Joe Mariany
One Note in the Classroom
MAJ Cat Barker
Cadet Charlson Ro
Teams and Onenote Class Notebook
Mr Josh Salisbury
USMAPS – Dept of English
MS Teams, Power BI, Sharepoint
USMA IT Service Desk
Ms Kerry German
CIO/G6 – IT Support Branch
Some of you may need to access .mil resources when you’re not on post. CITRIX accounts exist for most of you, and instructions on how to use CITRIX are on the top left panel at help.westpoint.edu. If you have issues with CITRIX, please call the ALTESS service desk at 1-800-981-3234 or email them at email@example.com.
Access to AMS/CIS is restricted to the WREN, which means that you must VPN for access. You should continue to use the Cisco AnyConnect tool for access, and the VPN address is vpn.westpoint.edu. There are instructions available on the top left panel at help.westpoint.edu. The instructions will also show you how to get AnyConnect installed on your laptop if it isn’t already.
West Point has a 24x7 helpdesk that can help you with any issues you may run into. You can look through their knowledge base at https://usmakb.blackbelthelp.com/, chat with them there, call them at 1-877-326-8762, or open a ticket with them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The following list was compiled by Stephanie Bland at BNC services. It provides specific information for over 280 textbooks that our cadets should be able to access for free via VitalSource. Cadets may borrow up to 7 ebooks through May 25th, 2020. If cadets already have active Vitalsource titles, then they won’t need to borrow those as they will remain active from their initial purchase.
Download List (Excel Spreadsheet): USMA VitalSource Ebook List
Walkthroughs of how cadets and faculty can borrow books are here: Video Instructions on how to Use VitalSource
Create accounts here: https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/user/signin
zyBooks is providing free access to online, interactive learning material for computer science, engineering, and math courses for spring semester users. They are also providing free access to a programming lab auto-grader to facilitate with remote homework and assessments. https://www.zybooks.com/covid-19-care-package/
We have created an Evolve365 skill track on working from home with Office 365. This will be useful for those of you who need to keep working with your peers while remote: Work from Home with Office 365
Creating a Meeting with Microsoft Teams (Office 365) (Credit: Dr. Lynnan Mocek, AARS)
- Prerecording a PowerPoint Lesson (Credit: COL Mindy Kimball, G&EnE. Please Note: access requires being logged in as a westpoint.edu user)
- How to Record Your Screen in PowerPoint (Credit: CPT Erin Williams, DSE)
- Andchill.tv is a site where you can create a "room" to watch YouTube videos together and talk to each other about them. It even has a virtual movie theater environment! May be useful for faculty looking for ways to have students jointly watch videos and discuss them.
Five Tips for Using Blackboard Collaborate in Your Remote Teaching Lessons
Please note: The recommended browser for use with Collaborate Ultra is Google Chrome. If you do not have Chrome installed on your computer, you can get if from Company Portal.
- Ask your cadets to use their "My Status and Setting" button to select one of the icons to express themselves (and verify they are engage in the material/class). The icons have choices of: happy, surprised, faster, sad, confused, slower, agree, disagree, and they can even select "Away" if they are doing to leave to use the restroom and then they can mark they are back. Ask Cadets to use them throughout the discussion when they liked something you said.
The leftmost tool on the Main Toolbar is the My Status and Settings tool. When you first see the tool, it will appear as a circle with a generic person image in it. Click on the green check mark to set your status and give feedback,
My settings button
There are several choices in the Status and Feedback menu. If you need to step away from the session, click on the Away choice. Use the other choices to give feedback, either when you feel it is necessary or when you are prompted to give feedback by the Moderator.
- Share audio and video
Moderators and presenters can share video with audio and audio files in a session from Chrome. All attendees will hear what is played. The way you share audio and video with audio depends on if you're using a Windows® or Mac OS® computer.
On Windows, you can share all audio on your desktop, such as YouTube videos or files you have on your computer.
- In Google Chrome, open the Collaborate panel and select the Share Content tab.
- Select Share Application/Screen.
- Select the Entire Screen or Chrome Tab option.
- If you select the Chrome Tab option, choose the tab you want to share from the list.
- Select the Share audio check box.
- Select Share.
On the Mac OS, you can only share video audio and audio files from a Chrome tab. Share video from sites like YouTube. Or open video and audio files you have on your computer in a new Chrome tab to share them.
- From a Chrome browser, open the Collaborate panel and select the Share Content tab.
- Select Share Application/Screen.
- Select the Chrome Tab option.
- Select the Share audio check box.
- Choose the tab you want to share from the list.
Share Powerpoint Slides
Share and manage the Whiteboard
- Break a class into groups for small group discussion/work:
Share files with breakout groups
- The Collaborate environment allows for cadets to see a shared repository for all course content - enabling easy access during a meeting. –
Upload GIF, JPEG and PNG images, PDF files, or PowerPoint presentations of 60MB or lower to your session. You can upload multiple presentations, however the total size allowed is 125 MB or lower for any particular session. *Limit PDFs and presentations to 500 pages or slides.
Screen reader users can access text from PowerPoint and PDF files shared in the session. This provides an easy way to follow along as slides change. Moderators and presenters must select Share Files and upload the files to Collaborate for screen readers to access the text.
Select Add Files Here or drag a file into the box to upload it. Select Share Now when you're ready for students to see the file.
You can prep for class at the beginning of the week, or even at the start of the semester! Join a session and load the files you want to share. These files stay in the session until deleted by a moderator. Load them once and reuse them as often as you want. If you can't join a session you want to upload files to, edit the session and change the time to start now. Upload the files. Don't forget to change the start time back to the original time! Attendees won't see the changes unless you send them another invitation.
You can choose to allow participants to mark up your shared file during a session in Session Settings. Open the Collaborate panel and select My Settings. Go to Session Settings and make your choice. *If you are recording your session, allow 8 seconds for the recording to include your shared file before moving on.
If you want to delete or rename a file, go to Share Files in the Collaborate panel. Find the file and open the File options menu. Select the Remove file or Rename file.
- Easy to post time-released quizzes:
For Further Reading
Below are some links to public articles on this subject. We’ll continue to add material here as it develops. Links here do not signify endorsement of the content or venue by USMA or the CTE.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Going-Online-in-a-Hurry-What/248207 (This CHE piece has a “short list of advice for faculty members who need to move online, fast.” It also has links for useful resources open to all faculty members)
- HASTAC: Thoughts & Resources for Those About to Start Teaching Online Due to COVID-19: https://www.hastac.org/blogs/jacqueline-wernimont/2020/03/09/thoughts-resources-those-about-start-teaching-online-due-covid (The article contains some overarching guidance and considerations, as well as a link to a Google Doc with best practices and ideas from faculty all over the world)
Facebook: Online Teaching Tips for the Plague-Averse: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2954479804602992/?ref=nf_target&fref=nf. (A Public Facebook group with 500+ faculty members sharing content and ideas about remote teaching)
COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel: https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus?src=feature (U.S. Department of Education)
Colleges and universities closed for COVID 19: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19wJZekxpewDQmApULkvZRBpBwcnd5gZlZF2SEU2WQD8/htmlview?sle=true#gid=0 (From Hanover Research-Bryan Alexander)
Remote Teaching Resources for Business Continuity: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VT9oiNYPyiEsGHBoDKlwLlWAsWP58sGV7A3oIuEUG3k/htmlview?fbclid=IwAR0oMoBYZYZCe_N47lLCMbjHWfefennBZ1HsmjJ0FRg406TxJH3-9q0SkjQ&sle=true#gid=1552188977 (Daniel Stanford, Center for Teaching and Learning, DePaul University)
The Educational Advisory Board provides this resource center:
To help you navigate your institution’s response to COVID-19, it gives you quick access to what other major public health organizations, education associations, and institutions are doing in real-time to respond to the crisis. The resources on this page are publicly-available examples of how organizations are sharing information about potential risks and planning for potential outbreaks.
Pandemic Pedagogy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2528669267346197/. A group of 13,000+ educators sharing ideas and perspectives about remote teaching.