Let’s face it: In Portland, we’re very used to mild winters. When freezing temperatures bring snow and icy roads, those who commute tend to go into what could politely be called “panic mode”. When Old Man Winter strikes during the last two weeks of a term, “panic mode” is not an option.
Knowing what technology resources are available to you as a teacher can help to find effective alternatives when travel is difficult or impossible. Here are three examples I’ve seen these past few snowy weeks.
With the threat of weather looming, many meetings on campus become uncertain. Luckily, with modern online meeting tools there’s no need to cancel or reschedule. On a snowy morning, I was able to connect via Skype video see the other participants and I could see each other’s faces. This really helps to achieve a sense of presence in a meeting. I needed to give an overview of a project and get feedback. By sharing my screen, all attendees were able to have eyes on the relevant content and discuss in real time. It was the next-best thing to being in the same room hooked up to a projector. At UP, we have Skype for Business, which makes connecting with colleagues or inviting in those from other organizations super easy.
- Schedule a Skype for Business Meeting on a PC (SfB on is included in Office 2016 on Windows)\
- Not on a PC? Get Skype for Business on your Mac or phone/tablet
Final Project Presentations Go Digital
If the weather is wreaking havoc with your end of term presentations schedule, consider allowing students to create a video version of their final presentation. While they won’t get the experience of presenting to a live audience, they will get a chance to develop digital literacies and be able to self-asses their own recorded presentation skills. The technology to create digital presentations is readily available. Students can create, edit and upload video directly from their mobile devices. If they need to present slides or use a computer screen, they can utilize UP MediaSpace’s built in screen capture software. The finished products can be shared via link, embedded in a Moodle forum, or uploaded to a Moodle Media Assignment activity.
Finals Snowed Out? Not Online
Teachers and students unlucky enough to have a final exam scheduled during weather events face some tough realities – canceled exams are often rescheduled weeks later, well after the last review session. One alternative to cancellation is to offer an online exam through Moodle. Moodle quiz activities can be restricted by date and time, so students simply login at the specified time and begin their test online. Now, obviously, online exams aren’t the right fit for every class and every test. A Moodle quiz is a defacto open book, open note quiz. I’ve written before about some easy methods, such as setting time limits and randomizing questions, that can help limit academic dishonesty. Ultimately it’s up to each instructor to decide if a non-proctored online format can support the learning objectives for their curriculum. Therefore, it’s important for faculty to know and consider the options that technology can provide.
Icy roads and snow getting in the way of your teaching goals? Let’s chat! You can always contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to brainstorm (hopefully not brainfreeze) ideas about how to beat the weather winter!