Digital Learning & Design

There continue to be circumstances in which it may be difficult for individual instructors and/or students to participate in person. Provost Richard M. Locke is asking all instructors to plan for the possibility that they may be absent to deal with personal or family situations, and that students may be absent from class for a variety of health and personal reasons.

If you have already designed a remote-accessible course, then there is no need to take further action at this time. If your course is not remote-accessible or if you would like guidance on how to further enable remote access, please review the scenarios below regarding strategies for continuity of instruction.

This page offers guidance for two scenarios that may occur within this timeframe.

  • Scenario 1: How to ensure that absent students are able to access course materials online (for example, through lecture capture or Zoom recordings) during the early weeks of the semester.
  • Scenario 2: How to teach from home in case you need to be absent.

Digital Learning & Design (Sheridan Center) recommends instructors use this guidance to develop a plan for both scenarios before the start of class and share it with students. If you would like to ensure your entire course is remote accessible before the start of the term, then please visit our Remote Accessible Teaching Guide or sign up for a consultation with one of our learning designers.

Scenario 1

How to ensure that absent students are able to access course materials online 

Brown instructors have several strategies to help to ensure that all students can fully engage in the class, regardless of physical location.

Place timely course materials on Canvas

DLD recommends all faculty put course material on Canvas in any course circumstance. For remote accessible accommodations, instructors can also distribute lecture notes (from instructors or collaboratively generated on Google Docs by students), create discussions, add assignments, and post other needed course materials and activities.

For more information on using Canvas, please see this OIT guide. For asynchronous teaching strategies, please see the Sheridan Center guide, Asynchronous Strategies for Inclusive Teaching.

Record class sessions

Instructors can choose to record class sessions and deliver recordings to students using the Canvas Media Library using the automated Lecture Capture Service, Panopto Personal Capture, or Zoom

Many Brown Classrooms contain Lecture Capture systems that streamline recording and video delivery. If your classroom does not contain an automated Lecture Capture system, you can still record Audio and/or Video using Panopto Personal Capture or by hosting and recording a Zoom meeting. Either recording can still be delivered using the Canvas Media Library. Questions regarding Lecture Capture or Personal Capture should be directed to Media_Services@brown.edu.

Create a Zoom meeting for remote students to join class

Some instructors may prefer to offer students the opportunity to remotely join a live class. As of Spring 2022, most Brown classrooms have been outfitted with equipment to support live Zoom meetings for Remote Accessible courses. In these classrooms, instructors can use the room’s cameras and microphones to host a Zoom meeting directly from their laptop. 

If instructors find themselves in a classroom without cameras and microphones, they may still create and host a Zoom session from their laptop. However, instructors should keep in mind that remote students will be limited to viewing the Laptop Camera shared screen, and they will listen from the laptop’s microphone. Instructors may contact their Department ITSC/DCC or Media_Services@brown.edu for initial support when teaching from a classroom without Remote Accessible Technology.

Scenario 2

How to teach from home in case you need to be absent

Instructors may encounter a situation which prevents their own in-person attendance. In such cases, we recommend that students also not come to the classroom unless another instructor or TA can act as a substitute. Instead, instructors should teach the class session in a fully remote fashion, either live over Zoom or by delivering course materials and/or recordings. 

Instructors seeking assistance with either approach may contact dld@brown.edu. DLD staff can assist with the setup of Zoom for synchronous class meetings, provide guidance for home recording, and remotely assess your setup of home equipment.

Host synchronous remote classes over Zoom

Instructors may wish to continue class sessions at the regularly scheduled time using a virtual meeting. This option entails several technical and logistical considerations.

  1. Instructors must set up recurring Zoom meetings, preferably through Canvas. 
  2. Instructors should review these guidelines for delivering online lectures
  3. “Wall writing” can be simulated with using Zoom’s whiteboard feature and a digital writing implement. Refer to this guide for more detail. 
  4. Live polling software (either Zoom Polls or Top Hat) can be used to engage students.

Deliver asynchronous course materials and/or recordings on Canvas

Some instructors may prefer to avoid synchronous Zoom meetings. In this case, instructors will need to develop and deliver course materials and inclusive online activities. For this option, Instructors might…

  1. Ensure that assignments, readings, and any other timely course materials are posted to the course Canvas site.
  2. Pre-record intended lectures for the temporary absence. Recordings can be created using Panopto Personal Capture or Zoom and delivered to students using the Canvas Media Library. 
  3. Leverage online discussions to supplement pre-recorded lecture. Brown supports several platforms for online discussions. Digital Learning & Design can assist instructors in identifying and configuring the correct tool. 
  4. Review the Sheridan Center guide, Asynchronous Strategies for Inclusive Teaching.