Many schools suddenly find themselves thrust into choosing a product or group of products to continue the school functions. If you are in this position, these are some good guidelines.
Uniformity - As a school, you should choose one thing and use it. TRY very hard not to have each teacher using different tools.
Ideally, every class should use the same Learning Management System (LMS), same video conferencing, and so on
Splitting among many platforms leads to student confusion and frustration
Use What's Familiar - If you are already using something, keep using it. You may have to introduce some new things though, and that's what the information below should help you with.
Mobile Friendly - We are all going to have to be very flexible for a while, meaning sitting down at a computer may be hard to do. Or perhaps the only device available with internet service is a phone.
Archiving / Time-Shifting - Live sessions cannot be as consistently relied upon as in a regular classroom. As many things as can be captured should be, so they can added to the LMS and referenced at other times if necessary.
One point of caution, FERPA and student privacy laws still apply during a school closure
What You Need For Remote Instruction
Learning Management System (LMS)
Online Discussion - Video and Text
Lesson and Materials "Capture" & Presentation
Student Work Submission
Student Device and Internet
Many of the items above are part of most Learning Management Systems.
Following are resources to help fill the gaps.
Following are resources to help fill the gaps.
⚠️ There are a lot of companies offering some tier of their services free to schools at this time. This section doesn't detail every free offering, just some very good ones.
Online Discussion - Video Chat
⚠️ Some services are currently experiencing extremely high usage with possible downtime. (TechSpot)
Zoom for Education
Zoom for Education Basic is available for free to teachers and schools, with no time limit on sessions
Zoom is all-around, the very best video conferencing service. You can do video chat sessions of up to 100 participants, share your screen or have others share their screens, record your sessions, or even use breakout rooms for small group discussions. You can also use an iPad as a digital whiteboard in the meeting.
Google Hangouts Meet
Google Hangouts Meet Premium is extended to all GSuite users through July 1st
If you are a Google school, Hangouts Meet is a quick and simple way to do video chat with students and screen sharing. It's not as featureful as Zoom, but it works really well from a Chromebook. Plus you can record your sessions.
Microsoft Teams for Education
If you use Microsoft Teams for Education, Teams has an integrated video chat feature (formerly Skype for Business). (link)
Capture and Share Lessons: Record a Lesson
💡 Recording from a Video Conferencing App
You can use any of the apps above to record a video conference you have with others. But to record a lesson without students present, you could start a meeting with no participants (other than you) and record that. Or use one of the options below.
Loom Pro is free for students and teachers
Loom is a great screen recording tool that records your webcam and screen simultaneously. You can host your recording on Loom or download it and share it to your LMS.
Screencastify is free for schools
Screencastify is another fantastic and easy to use tool for recording your webcam and screen. It's got lots of great features for education and many schools love it.
Techsmith Snagit free to all through June 30th
Snagit allows you to record your screen and webcam, then post that recording in your LMS or any other platform. It also offers a screenshot tool, allowing you to draw arrows, shapes, etc.
Nearpod can sort of fit into any category here, since it's assessment and content delivery and a bit more.
Capture and Share Lessons: Capture Materials
If you have a device with a pen (iPad, Microsoft Surface, etc.), a digital whiteboarding app can be an amazing addition to your lesson. Using Zoom, you can share an iPad to the meeting and draw with one of these apps. Or you can use Airserver to share it to your computer (for use with Snagit, Loom, Google Meet).
Some good options: Microsoft Whiteboard - Google Jamboard - ExplainEverything - Miro
If you have physical papers that students need, download a scanning app to your phone and take a photo of the document. The app will turn it into a nicely scanned PDF or image.
Some good options: Google Drive - CamScanner - OneDrive App - ScannerPro - iPhone Notes - Genius Scan
In addition to the tools provided by your LMS, you might benefit from one of these more formative assessment options as well.
Coming Very Soon
Suggestions & Best Practices
Student Internet Access and Devices
⚠️ This is going to be a tough one because literally everyone in the country is trying to solve this right now. Backorders are a real problem as well. You will need to be extremely creative.
Many of these options are going to be VERY hard to fulfill quickly
Kajeet Smartspot is a very cheap hotspot option to loan to students.
If you have a Verizon Government contract, unlimited data is $40 per month for a hotspot and they will overnight them to any location.
If you don't have a Verizon Government contract, you may be able to leverage ours at the national office . . . please contact Mark Bazin
Comcast is offering 2 free months of internet to low-income customers
Computers & Devices
Take apart laptop carts (sorry) and distribute
With the OverDrive app, or other local Library lending apps, students can access e-books from their local libraries
Some libraries offer hotspots for borrowing, however it's unlikely any would be available by this point