# Resources for alternative instruction delivery

Link to this page: keepteaching.math.illinois.edu

The purpose of this page is to provide a list of resources for teaching and working remotely.

# Lectures

These can be delivered either synchronously (e.g., Zoom) or asynchronously. However, CITL has officially discouraged synchronous methods for large lectures, and we are asking all instructors to have a plan for delivering lectures asynchronously. These lectures should contain both a visual component (e.g., slides, scanned notes/drawings) and an audio component (e.g., recorded voice). We ask each instructor to identify where they would post such lectures and post a sample five-minute lecture by the end of spring break.

One simple workflow would be as follows:

  1. Pre-record your lecture, using instructions found here: https://atlas.illinois.edu/teaching-online/how-do-i-put-my-lectures-online
  2. Post those lectures before class time (optimally, 24h ahead of time) in the standard location that you post course material
  3. Be available for questions and discussion during the regular course period using Zoom or other tools described in the “Keep Teaching” site

Obviously, one can do much more sophisticated deliveries, and if people are up for it, we encourage it! But this workflow is intended to be accessible to all of our instructors.

We encourage sharing during this process --- for example, instructors teaching the same course do not need to individually record their lectures, but can rotate and share in a manner that works for all.

# Office Hours

Instructors should offer students regular opportunities to have their questions answered. This can be via email, an online forum, or via individual or group synchronous online office hours.

# Homework

Instructors and graders should continue to collect, grade, and return homework. This can be done via email, or by setting up a box folder and letting students upload their assignments. We suggest setting up Box folders for all medium to large classes; see the Keep Teaching site for instructions on this. IMPORTANT: Please keep in mind that FERPA regulations apply to course material: grades should not be communicated to students via email, and students should not have access to other students’ work and grades through access in a Box folder.

# Sections

TAs are expected to provide students regular opportunities for interactions. We strongly suggest that those times should comport as closely as is possible with the existing meeting times of the section --- the students will have to coordinate all of their courses and any changes in schedule will lead to cascades of conflicts. Instructors leading large lectures should decide now how they would like this to be accomplished by their own TAs.

# Exams

For any exams that were scheduled in the period March 23 --- April 3, instructors should decide now what to do for alternatives. Possibilities include giving a take-home exam, postponing the exam, or cancelling the exam. Obviously different courses will require different alternatives, and the instructors should make the best decision on this.

If the campus is closed for longer than this we will need to decide how to handle exams past April 3, and final exams, but for now we suggest deferring that question.

# Research Collaborations and Groups

University policy forbids in-class teaching and lecturing, and on-campus gatherings of more than 50 people. We recognize that there is a need for groups of faculty and students to work together on research projects and for group meetings. While there is no explicit prohibition against in-person meetings of this type, we ask everyone to be mindful of the need for social distancing in all aspects of our daily lives during this time period, and to consider whether meetings via Zoom, Skype or other online platforms may be suitable.

Thank you very much for your time and effort. We greatly appreciate your assistance in continuing to provide quality instruction to our students in these challenging circumstances.

Yours, Jeremy Tyson, Sue Tolman, Ely Kerman, Lee DeVille

# General Recommendations

CITL has several recommendations that apply specifically to the department. We highlight them below.

# Alternatives to face-to-face lectures

CITL provided several guidelines for alternatives to face-to-face lectures.


Please do not use synchronous tools like Zoom for classes larger than 150 students and only use such live sessions if you plan on interactive discussions (not pure lectures).

Instead, as an alternative to face-to-face lectures, we recommend either pre-recording lectures, or sharing notes.

# Synchronous session

Synchronous sections should be scheduled during regular class times

If you are going to plan to incorporate a required synchronous component to your remote teaching strategy, please make sure that you only use your regularly scheduled class times. This will help ensure students are available and will help balance the load on our systems.

# Equipment

Technical questions or requests for help with work-at-home / teach-at-home setups can be sent to Pat, Tony or Matt at math-it@illinois.edu.

# Good internet connection

If you're going to be streaming live lectures, you need to be mindful of how your bandwidth can negatively impact both your video and audio quality delivered to your students. While requirements change based on quality of video, an upload and download speed of 3.0 Mbps meets all of Zoom’s listed requirements. These speeds can be easily tested in a webbrowser by visiting http://speedtest.net. Keep in mind that distance from your wireless basestation, other people using the internet in your home (especially Netflix streaming video services that are high band-width), as well as someone using the microwave (when you're on the wireless home network) can impact your speed.

# Audio, audio, audio...

The most important thing about video is audio. Good quality audio for both recording and live meetings helps reduce ”Zoom/listening fatigue”.


You can immediately improve your audio quality by placing a microphone close to your mouth, but not where your breath will be blowing directly into it (this is known as off-axis mic placement).

While breath and "P" noises can be reduced by using screens known as "pop stoppers" and "dead cat filters," it is usually easier to pay attention to proper mic placement. Consider investing in a quality microphone, as most can be used for both live meetings and instructional recordings. Finally, we recommend wired microphones: While they can limit movement, wired microphones are far superior in quality to most consumer-grade wireless microphones (e.g. Apple Airpods / Airpod Pros).

# Chalkboard replacement:

A tablet & stylus that can connect into a Zoom session, or can screen record.

  • RECOMMENDED: Apple iPad and an Apple Pencil with an appropiate cable to connect directly to computer (lightning, or USB-C if iPad Pro to USB-A or USB-C cable)
  • (android equivalent?) Perhaps the Samsung Galaxy
  • a webcam pointed at a traditional chalk/whiteboard

# A better microphone than built in:

# Option 1: Combo headsets

Combo headsets that include both earphones and a mini boom microphone are a good option as they have good sound quality because the mic is close to your mouth (but off-axis) and the sound from the speakers (earphones) is isolated from the microphone.

# We recommend the Logitech H540 (~$50) or Logitech Zone Wired (~$100).

Pros: include good audio quality for meetings/recording, moderately priced, very easy to setup and use, and a portable all-in-one solution.
Cons: The down side is that they are not discrete.

# Option 2: Separate headset and lapel microphone

A more discrete option that's harder to setup is a pair of wireless earbuds with a separate plugged in lavalier microphone such as the R0DE SmartLav+ ($80). The SmartLav+ is a clip on wireless mic and is designed to work with the headphone/mic 3.5mm jack in both computers as well as smartphones / tablets (technically it's TRRS). It delievers great audio, however it will make your computer think it has a set of wired headphones plugged in, so you must use wireless headphones with it or an adapter that splits headphones from microphone yet still gets TRRS to the R0DE plug.

Pros: very good audio quality for live meetings and recordings, discrete and the flexibility to connect to both computers and tablets without adapters.
Cons: Can be difficult to set up.

# Option 3: Separate headset and fixed microphone

Another option is to pair wireless earbuds (or full headphones) with a top-notch microphone such as the Blue Yeti USB microphone (several options, $100-200) https://www.bluedesigns.com/products/yeti/ or AT-2020 USB microphone ($120) https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT2020USBP--audio-technica-at2020usb-cardioid-condenser-usb-microphone.

Pros: top-notch audio quality for meetings or recording (proximity effect aka ”radioannouncer voice”), and with some work the mic can be discrete depending on setup (mic located just off camera).
Cons: most expensive setup, the need for potentially additional equipment (e.g. mic stand or boom arm, pop stopper) and a dedicated workspace so it can be left setup, and the lack of mobility.

# A better webcam than built-in

  • We recommend the Logitech c930e Business Webcam (https://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/c930e-webcam) as it has the ability to zoom in and the camera settings can be fixed, and while it is wired it is long enough that it can easily be moved around, and it has a built-in tripod mount). For portability and flexibility we recommend the JOBY GorillaPod line of mini tripods: https://joby.com/us-en/gorillapod-starter-kit-jb01571-bww/.

Additional Resources – CITL resources for DIY video production: https://uofi.app.box.com/v/onlineteachingresources

# Learning Management Systems

Having a course in a learning management system allows instructors to easily:

  • Distribute course information to students
  • Distribute and collect assignments from students
  • Share course materials with students
  • Facilitate discussion with groups of students remotely
  • Permit students to take online tests and quizzes
  • Enable student collaboration

Campus currently supports two learning management systems: Blackboard and Moodle.

# Zoom for online lectures and meetings

Zoom can be used to:

  • Deliver online lectures
  • Meet with students online
  • Meet with other faculty and staff

It features clients for desktop and mobile devices, as well as the ability to record sessions.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is part of the Illinois Zoom Consortium, and as such has access to Zoom Pro licenses.

Here are some relevant Zoom links:

# Hosting videos

The university Mediaspace mediaspace.illinois.edu can be used to host videos. If possible, please how your videos there.

# Submitting content

This site is hosted on the departmental GitLab server: git.math.illinois.edu. To submit changes, you can fork the repository and submit a merge request, or send an email to keepteaching@math.illinois.edu.

Last Updated: 6/30/2020, 11:12:12 PM