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.


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 joanna.stern@wsj.com 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

Storing and Sharing Files with Microsoft One Drive (Office 365)

Learn more about sharing files in OneDrive.

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.

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)
Administer Quizzes & Exams (Blackboard)
Update Your Course Home Page (Blackboard)

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


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
    DFL --
        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:

Topic

POC

Organization

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

AARS

One Note in the Classroom

MAJ Cat Barker

PANE

MS Forms

Cadet Charlson Ro

USCC S6

Teams and Onenote Class Notebook

Mr Josh Salisbury

USMAPS – Dept of English

MS Teams, Power BI, Sharepoint

SGM Dill

USMA Band

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 army.altess.servicedesk@mail.mil.

  • 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 helpdesk@westpoint.edu.

  • 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.

  1. 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

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.

Feedback settings

Feedback settings

  1. 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.

Windows

On Windows, you can share all audio on your desktop, such as YouTube videos or files you have on your computer.

  1. In Google Chrome, open the Collaborate panel and select the Share Content tab.
  2. Select Share Application/Screen.
  3. Select the Entire Screen or Chrome Tab option.
  4. If you select the Chrome Tab option, choose the tab you want to share from the list.
  5. Select the Share audio check box.
  6. Select Share.

Mac OS

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.

  1. From a Chrome browser, open the Collaborate panel and select the Share Content tab.
  2. Select Share Application/Screen.
  3. Select the Chrome Tab option.
  4. Select the Share audio check box.
  5. Choose the tab you want to share from the list.
  6. Select Share.

    Share Powerpoint Slides

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6H3R-E_pgEY

Share and manage the Whiteboard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72_jZmILc1c

  1. Break a class into groups for small group discussion/work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4dudLGevhw&vl=en

Share files with breakout groups

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf5AlhIOFzs

  1. 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.

click share files

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.

 drage your file or select to insert

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.

  1. Easy to post time-released quizzes:

https://youtu.be/hms51SQtYzY


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.