Online and hybrid teaching resources for USC Annenberg

Last updated: July 27, 2020

USC Annenberg is required to adapt all class activities for online and hybrid teaching for the summer and fall 2020 terms in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Hybrid teaching refers to classes that contain significant on-campus components. Please refer to the USC schedule of classes for a current list of courses and delivery modality. All classes, regardless of initial modality, must be prepared to be delivered fully online if health conditions require a return to “safer-at-home” protocols.

The following resources have been curated by USC Annenberg’s director of online learning and USC Annenberg’s Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) faculty fellows to help instructors adjust their courses to meet student needs and learning objectives.


Latest Updates


Zoom, Blackboard and VoiceThread

Zoom

Zoom is a videoconferencing application that enables audio and video conferencing between multiple users on both desktop computers and mobile devices. It can allow faculty to host class lectures, discussions, share screens and files, and chat with students using a PC, tablet, or even a cell phone equipped with a camera. Zoom is available to all faculty and students at no cost.

  • Instructors teaching a course in online modality must host live class sessions on Zoom on the day and time listed on the course schedule. Likewise, instructors teaching a course in hybrid modality must ensure that on-campus components are also available remotely via zoom.
  • Regardless of course modality, instructors are required to record all classes on Zoom for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, but also to accommodate students who (for a variety of reasons) may not be able to attend live remote sessions or in-person classes. Be sure that students are aware that classes are being recorded, and include an explicit policy about recordings in your syllabus. 

For help setting up your Zoom meeting link in Blackboard please review this tutorial. You can also review a recorded Zoom training session, or attend a live training.

Blackboard

Blackboard is the university’s Learning Management System (LMS) used by instructors across campus to distribute course materials, communicate with students in discussion boards, and to collect and assess student work through assignments, quizzes, and tests. A Blackboard course is created for every course at USC and should be the primary tool used for classroom management and communication.

If you aren’t already using Blackboard, get your course set up and available to students. Visit https://blackboardhelp.usc.edu to learn more and be sure to check out upcoming Blackboard training opportunities available through CET

VoiceThread

VoiceThread allows faculty and students alike to create polished, pre-recorded multimedia presentations that can be viewed and discussed asynchronously. Narrate and annotate slides, videos, photos and other types of media, while simultaneously engaging participants in a threaded audio/video discussion. USC Annenberg has provided free VoiceThread professional accounts to all faculty and students..

Log in at http://voicethread.com/ with the following credentials:
Username: USC email address (e.g., ttrojan@usc.edu)
Password: Click here and enter your USC email address to set your password

Problems logging in? Contact the USC Annenberg Digital Lounge.

Review a recording of a custom training workshop for USC Annenberg faculty or sign up for an upcoming VoiceThread workshop. Additionally, here are some helpful guides to get you started on creating and sharing your VoiceThreads:

Key Instructional Tips and Resources

  • Be flexible and understand that your students may be anxious and distracted due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Adapt assignments, exams, and other assessments as necessary to meet learning goals in a remote or hybrid learning environment. (See FAQ about ADA compliance).
  • Create asynchronous opportunities for instruction and participation (e.g., Discussion Board Forums on Blackboard). Use VoiceThread to create interactive, asynchronous lectures, and reserve live sessions for deeper dives into the course content.
  • Avoid long lectures on Zoom. Segment your live sessions into lecture, discussion, and breakout sessions, if possible. You can pre-assign breakout rooms before your meeting to save time. Remember to use students’ USC email addresses and ask them to sign into Zoom with their USC account.
  • For longer classes, be sure to schedule breaks for you and your students to stretch, use the restroom, and get some water or food.
  • Make sure your Zoom sessions are set up to automatically record. Organize recording links in Blackboard to make sure all sessions are available to students who cannot attend live. Note: Zoom has been experiencing high demand and long lecture recordings are currently taking 24 hours or more to process.
  • You can pause your Zoom recording during breakout sessions and restart for lecture. This will create smaller recording files, but you must remember to restart recording
  • Use the share screen function in Zoom to present PowerPoint slides, share full-screen videos, demonstrate software (e.g., SPSS, Adobe, etc.), and use the white board tool. If you share a video or a PowerPoint with audio make sure you are sharing your computer sound.
  • Don’t be afraid to invite guest speakers to your Zoom sessions. All they need is the meeting link to join your class. Without travel time, guests may have an easier time participating.
  • If your class is remote, continue to hold office hours using Zoom. Create a separate meeting link enabling the waiting room feature, and consider offering extra appointment times.
  • Consider polling your students (using Google Forms or Qualtrics) to gauge their internet connectivity, access to resources, time zones and priorities for learning.  View a sample survey and download it for importing into Qualtrics.
  • Ask for help if you need it! We will continue to deploy additional tools to support your transition to remote and hybrid instruction.

Essential Resources

USC Center for Excellence in Teaching

There are excellent tips from the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET)  here, including active learning and Zoom pointers. CET also has a dedicated page to help you get started with online teaching with excellent resources on pedagogy and contact information for faculty support.

USC CET Accelerated Online Teaching Intensive

The Accelerated Online Teaching Intensive is intended to provide a space for faculty to learn online teaching tools and reflect on how their courses could most effectively be delivered in the online environment. The late summer Intensive runs from July 13 – August 21. The registration deadline is Thursday, July 16 at 3:00 p.m. PST. Register here. The course is also available for independent review at your own pace here.

USC Keep Teaching Site

The University has set up a Keep Teaching page with starter guides and tips for faculty and students. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates and news.

ASCJ Excellence in Teaching Site

USC Annenberg’s Excellence in Teaching resource site is hosted on Blackboard and contains an array of resources focused on online teaching, teaching with technology, diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism pedagogy resources, as well as resources specific to USC Annenberg disciplines. Additionally, the site is updated frequently to reflect best practices at USC, as well as ideas from other institutions and colleagues as they migrate to online learning. News and resources are added regularly, so check this site often. Click here for login instructions.

Additional Resources

USC Zoom Overview:
https://itservices.usc.edu/zoom/ 

Using Zoom in an Emergency:
https://itservices.usc.edu/zoom/emergency/ 

Blackboard Help for Faculty:
https://blackboardhelp.usc.edu/ 

USC Annenberg Digital Lounge’s Zoom Installation and Account Creation Guide:
http://www.annenbergdl.org/tutorials/zoom/​ 

Online Meeting Etiquette:
https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2017/10/06/mobile-meeting-etiquette/ 

USC ITS Support:
consult@usc.edu 

USC Annenberg Support:
asctech@usc.edu and annenbergdl@usc.edu

Neil Teixeira, USC Annenberg Director of Online Learning:
teixeira@usc.edu

FAQ about Online and Hybrid Instruction

General

Do I need to keep the same class schedule? 

Yes. You must still hold class sessions at the scheduled class time, but be prepared to alter the pacing of the class and the way you teach. All instructors are required to record class sessions using Zoom for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance but also to accommodate students who may not be able to attend live remote sessions or in-person class. Click here for how to record your class on Zoom. Click here for DSP guidance on remote teaching.

Do I need to record my Zoom sessions?

Regardless of course modality, instructors are required to record all classes on Zoom for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, but also to accommodate students who (for a variety of reasons) may not be able to attend live remote sessions or in-person classes. Be sure that students are aware that classes are being recorded, and include an explicit policy about recordings in your syllabus. Students should be given the option of muting their own audio/video.  Faculty should remind students of their ethical responsibility to keep personal information shared in class private.

Zoom class recordings are set to only be viewable by authenticated USC users by default. However, once you share your recordings, your students will have access to view and, potentially, copy and further distribute them. It is recommended that you remind students that sharing these recordings outside of class represents a violation of the Student Conduct Code, which will be strictly enforced.

When can faculty have access to their offices to gather teaching resources needed to help them develop their courses?

Currently, all Annenberg faculty and staff coming to campus must contact TechOps to pre-arrange access to buildings and offices. USC is aiming for a tentative August 1st, 2020 date for reopening campus to faculty, observing all health requirements (masks, social distancing, etc.) and using the Trojan Check web application for contact tracing. Reopening dates are subject to change.

Can or should I require live attendance in my class? 

University policy indicates that “no portion of the grade may be awarded for class attendance, but non-attendance can be the basis for lowering the grade, when clearly stated on the syllabus.” Given the numerous challenges that students may face attending class (either on campus or remote) in Fall 2020, it is suggested that instructors encourage but do not require students to attend class in-person or synchronously. Consider language in your syllabus that requires students to inform you if they are going to miss class, and outlines how students should make up for any missed class work. Also consider a range of ways participation can be structured in which engagement with course materials is required on a regular basis but is not dependent on class attendance per se.

How can I encourage and evaluate student participation in remote or hybrid courses? 

The USC Curriculum Coordination Office (CCO) policy indicates that “participation” should be worth no more than 15% of the course grade. Given that students may not be able to attend class on campus or synchronously on a regular basis, consider creating asynchronous participation opportunities such as Blackboard discussion boards (which automatically record participation) or other mechanisms that allow for engagement without requiring live attendance. It is suggested that you articulate (in writing) different ways that students may earn participation points through synchronous and asynchronous activities. 

How much freedom do faculty have to customize the course experience? Assuming adequate contact hours, can classes be organized with a greater asynchronous component (and shorter on campus or Zoom sessions)?

Instructors are required to hold live sessions on the day and time listed on the course schedule, and to maintain the required contact hours. Within these broad parameters, instructors are encouraged to adapt courses based on pedagogical and student needs. For example, contact hours may be fulfilled with asynchronous activities, as part of a flipped course model. The class syllabus should outline which activities will be considered to fulfill contact hours requirements. See the ASCJ Excellence in Teaching Resources website for examples and guidance on assessing contact hours in remote or hybrid courses

Contact Hours

How do I ensure I’m meeting contact requirements in my online or hybrid course?

Contact hours quantify the amount of regular and substantive interaction between students and their instructor, and are most traditionally associated with the number of hours that a class meets on campus. In the online format, this can be interpreted as the number of hours of synchronous online instruction. However, best practice dictates that a combination of synchronous and asynchronous class activities is preferred for online and hybrid courses. USC Annenberg, along with several other USC schools, has created this resource guide for calculating contact hours that includes examples of such combinations and how they meet contact hour requirements.

Online Course Instruction

How can I promote student engagement in online teaching? How can I make my 3-hour class better suited to an online modality?

Avoid long lectures on Zoom. Plan your class sessions in “chapters” and break lectures into 10-20 minute chunks with active learning exercises in between, such as breakout discussions, polls, short exercises or anything that keeps them busy while learning. Remember to take a “cognitive break” and encourage students to submit questions or comments in the chat as well as give nonverbal feedback. If cold calling on students is appropriate for your class, your attendees’ names are readily available in the participants list in Zoom.

Please visit the ASCJ Excellence in Teaching Resources website (must be logged in to Blackboard) for more ideas and links, and CET’s Course Continuity page. 

What are some best practices for breakout group discussions?

Review participating in breakout groups with your students. Students will have a better understanding of what to expect logistically, what tools can be used within the breakout group setting, and options for communicating with the professor.

Determine whether you would prefer to use random groups or assigned groups. If using assigned groups, pre-assign those breakout groups before the actual session. Assigning students to groups during the actual session will waste significant class time.

Share breakout activity instructions in advance with your students or communicate to the breakout groups using the broadcast a message feature. Give student groups a clear deliverable for the breakout group activity and broadcast time reminders.

Make sure to check in on the groups. Just as you might walk around the classroom, you can join and exit breakout groups as needed. 

Should I require students to always have their cameras on during live class sessions?

It is suggested that you do not require that students have their camera on at all times during a live class session. While it is good practice to encourage students to turn on their camera, it is important to let students know they will not be penalized for leaving their cameras off. Some students do not have a good working camera. Others might be living in or connecting from an environment that makes video communication uncomfortable or unsuitable. Possible exceptions include classes where an on-screen presence is needed or desired (e.g., public speaking, presentations).

Are there “netiquette” rules of online behavior I can share with my students?

Netiquette, or internet etiquette, is concerned with the “proper” way to communicate in an online environment. Consider these netiquette rules developed by USC Dornsife.

Are there best practices to develop student assignments in skills-development courses (e.g., writing and reporting, news production, etc.)?

For production classes, this is a good opportunity to let students experiment with remote content gathering. Annenberg Media’s resource website is compiling new tip sheets specifically aimed at remote production for video and audio.  In addition, the ASCJ Excellence in Teaching Blackboard site has links which might give you ideas of ways to adapt your skills assignments.

How best to utilize TAs for support during large online classes? What is the guidance with respect to discussion sections?

Please remind your TAs that discussion sections should also occur synchronously and be recorded (they are a class on record at USC). Consistency across sections is very important so please work with your TAs to offer guidance and support as needed. There is a special section about TAs and remote teaching in the ASCJ Excellence in Teaching Blackboard site. 

Hybrid Course Instruction

How will classrooms be “Zoomified” for hybrid course delivery?

All ASCJ classrooms will meet the USC standard for Zoom-enabled classrooms, which includes audio and video capture using rear-facing cameras and integrated microphones. Some classrooms in ANN will have both rear- and front-facing cameras. Faculty will also have the option of requesting a Zoom assistant to manage audio and video feeds, and monitor remote students.

What is a Zoom assistant? Will every hybrid class have one?

Zoom assistants are TechOps staff and/or student workers who assist faculty with managing classroom audio/video feeds, shared content, discussion activities, and breakout sessions in Zoom so that faculty can focus fully on instruction. Zoom assistants are optional for any faculty who may need them for on-campus instruction and will be provided by the Schools in coordination with TechOps. Contact your school’s office to request a Zoom assistant.

Will faculty have the option of a second display available so they can have two screens when teaching in hybrid modality? 

Faculty will be encouraged to use their own laptop as an additional display for viewing the gallery of remote students on Zoom. For ASCJ classrooms that have two projectors with multiple inputs, the gallery can also be projected alongside the content being screenshared. 

Can in-class instructors use a face shield rather than a mask? Could Plexiglass be used instead of or in addition to a mask?

The City and County of Los Angeles does not approve of face shield-only use as personal protective equipment (PPE). Currently, faculty who would like to use a face shield must also wear a face mask, which Annenberg will provide. The use of clear, full-face coverings for teaching is being evaluated by health and safety professionals. USC will provide guidance as it becomes available. USC will not be using plexiglass for classroom teaching. 

If we are wearing masks while teaching, will we have access to microphones?  How about students?  What safety precautions will be taken regarding sanitation of microphones?

Everyone in class must wear a face mask. Handheld and lavalier microphones will not be used in classes. Overhead mics or integrated proximity mics (in camera) will be used instead. If audio quality is determined to be insufficient for online instruction or lecture capture, TechOps will address that with the instructor. 

Exams and Assessments

What are the best practices for exams and other forms of assessment in an online class?

Instructors should consider remote, online assessments through Blackboard and other systems tantamount to a take-home exam. Tests can be created and delivered in Blackboard using a variety of different question formats (e.g., multiple choice, multiple answers, fill-in-the blank, true false, essay, etc.). Some question types are self-scoring while others require manual grading/scoring. Exam questions and answers should always be randomized to deter cheating. More information about each type of question format can be found on USC Blackboard help site.

The ASCJ Excellence in Teaching Resources site (must be logged in to Blackboard) has numerous resources about online assessments best practices. Additionally, CET has online guides and recorded webinars to help you develop assessments in Blackboard. 

How do I ensure academic integrity in an online class?

If you are especially concerned about plagiarism, consider asking students for their thoughts on how to maintain integrity and honesty during remote instruction. Being upfront about the possibility of cheating may deter some students from engaging in it. Make sure students are familiar with USC’s Academic Integrity policy and if you believe a student has violated the Academic Integrity policy, you can, as always, contact your academic unit.

Using Zoom

Is there a central resource for tips and tutorials on using Zoom?

The Zoom Help Center is a searchable database of quickstart guides, video tutorials, and support topics that will help you answer a wide array of questions related to Zoom’s features. There is also a USC ITS Zoom support page that is specific to the university’s deployment of the software.

How can I improve meeting security and prevent Zoombombing?

Zoombombing is a new form of trolling in which a participant uses Zoom’s features to interrupt and disrupt meetings. In order to enhance the security of our classes and meetings, USC ITS is recommending that users update the following Zoom settings immediately to ward against future interruptions:

USC’s Keep Teaching website has these settings listed here

Watch this brief tutorial video to assist with navigating these settings updates.

How can I continue seeing the gallery of students when I’m sharing my screen? How can I make use of two screens in Zoom?

Who controls the Zoom recordings of my classes? Can anyone view them? Can students share these recordings with other people?

Faculty have control of their class recordings and transcripts in Zoom. Once recordings and transcripts are available (currently, this may take 24 hours or more for long lecture meetings), faculty must manually make recording files available to all of their students. Please watch this brief video tutorial to learn how to restrict access to your recordings. Once you have done this, please communicate with your students about where to find and how to view the recordings. CET has produced a tutorial document that shows you how to do this. Students will have access to three files for each class: a video/audio recording, an audio only recording, and a written transcript.

Zoom class recordings are set to only be viewable by authenticated USC users by default. Additionally, Zoom does have settings that allow faculty to password protect and track who requests access to their Zoom recordings. The feature is called On-Demand and it requires users to enter their name and email address before viewing or downloading the recording. Faculty are able to download a report with this information.

How long are recordings stored in Zoom? Can I delete them? Can I download them to my computer?

Zoom allows you to delete your recordings at any time; however, all faculty should keep their recordings until the conclusion of the course so that students can access them for learning purposes. If you also wish to keep your recorded lectures or class sessions in your personal archive, you can download them to your computer. Faculty can delete their recording and transcript files after their course is over and final grades have been submitted. Recording files will automatically be deleted from your account after one year.

How is my privacy and that of my students being protected?

According to Zoom, the company does not share or sell its data to third parties, and its service is compliant with FERPA. See more information about privacy and FERPA compliance from Zoom here.

Will Zoom class recordings be used for teaching evaluation purposes?

No. The purpose of asking all faculty to record their classes is to ensure that all of our students have access to our lectures and class discussions—and not to evaluate our faculty. If you normally teach your course on ground, and are teaching online due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the university will not be accessing your recordings to evaluate your teaching.

However, if you typically teach online, and review of recorded class sessions is part of the normal peer evaluation process in your school, that process is not changed by this policy. Faculty who teach in online programs during normal operations should consult their schools about how video recordings of those classes are used in faculty development or evaluation.

Student Support

How can I accommodate students with disabilities? 

The USC Office of Disability Services and Programs (DSP) is offering guidelines and support for faculty to ensure that students with disabilities are not put at a disadvantage as classes transition online. This includes guidelines on note taking, translation/interpreting services, and test accommodations. Please visit the DSP site for more information or contact DSP at (213) 740-0776 or via email: DSPFrontDesk@usc.edu 

What if some of my students don’t have reliable internet access at home?

For U.S.-based students there are several options available. Some ISPs (e.g. Charter) are offering free access for 60 days to college students. Others (e.g., Comcast and AT&T) are opening their Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone. Blackboard and Zoom apps can be downloaded to smartphones and accessed using cellular connections as well. Encourage your students to explore these and other options.

How do I help students who need additional support? 

For students who are resource-constrained and may need extra assistance, please contact Vince Gonzales, Associate Dean, Student Affairs at vince.gonzales@usc.edu. We are mobilizing as much support as possible for students in need. 

These uncertain times are adding significant stress for students. To address the wellbeing of our students even when not on campus, medical and mental health services are now available to students via TeleHealth

Faculty Support

Is individualized instructional design help available from CET?

Yes. Ingrid Steiner, a USC CET instructional designer, is available for 1-on-1 consultations with Annenberg faculty. It is suggested that, prior to the consultation, instructors review the resources available on this page, as well as those available from CET, including the Independent Review Resources for Online Teaching. This will allow the consultation to focus on the pedagogical elements of course preparation and delivery (rather than on technical elements). To schedule an appointment with Ingrid contact her at ingridst@usc.edu.

Is there a faculty colleague I can consult with about adapting my class?

A team of Online Teaching Mentors — including CET faculty fellows and online master’s instructors from Communication Management and Public Relations — are volunteering their time to serve as peer mentors to discuss ideas with colleagues on adapting their classes to online/hybrid modality. Request an appointment below:

Mathew Curtis (Request)

Jennifer Floto (Request)

Hernan Galperin (Request)

Julianna Kirschner (Request)

Courtney Pade (Request)

Jessica Neff (Request)

Brad Shipley (Request)

Burghardt Tenderich (Request)

Help! I am having trouble with teaching technology. How can I get support?

USC Annenberg’s TechOps team is providing remote support, including a live Zoom virtual help desk for faculty and staff to video chat with technical staff. Using video chat and screen sharing, they will be able to explain technical issues and walk you through software support.

The TechOps’ Zoom virtual help desk is monitored by staff members as follows:

  • Monday–Thursday: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Friday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Keep in mind that you should use this Zoom link for immediate support needs only. If your request does not need to be resolved immediately, you are encouraged to email asctech@usc.edu. Members of the TechOps team are also available to provide tech support Monday–Thursday between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. and Friday between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at (213) 740-5297 or asctech@usc.edu

These staff are available to advise on Blackboard, Zoom, Sharepoint and Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Teams. Additionally, instructors may reach out to Neil Teixeira at teixeira@usc.edu to schedule a 1-on-1 Zoom consultation.