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RIT Ready: Moving Forward Into Fall
Faculty Course Technology Support
Blog » Using Digital Tools to Support Classroom Activities in All Modes

Rebecca Johnson and Katie Bush--The digital tools that you may be using to teach in a physically distanced classroom can be used to facilitate academic continuity in the event of a pivot to different modes of instruction. In this post, we'll describe digital tools that facilitate common classroom activities across all modes. Contact the Innovative Learning Institute with questions about any of the digital tools that you may be using. You can find additional information about these tools on the Academic Technology page. You'll find links to the documentation for tools mentioned in this site at the bottom of the post.

Course Communications

Keep students up to date and informed

  • Post a course schedule in myCourses Content tool.
  • Post announcements in myCourses with updates and reminders.
  • Send whole course emails using the Classlist tool in myCourses.
  • Post announcements or notices on Slack.
  • Create an FAQ discussion board in myCourses.

Develop a sense of community

  • Send "checking in" messages to individual students via email or Slack.
  • Create a "watercooler conversations" space in the Discussions tool in myCourses.
  • Create a "just for fun" channel in Slack (enabling the "giphy" integration is useful--maybe suggest that students keep it PG though?).
  • Publicize your office hours and encourage people to stop in for a Zoom chat.
  • Post encouraging notes in announcements, talk about the good work you're seeing from students.
  • Suggest that students use Slack to "backchannel" during class (either synchronous face-to-face or remote).

Distributing Course Content

  • Post content to myCourses--try to keep the content intuitively organized (by week or by topic) and make sure you let students know if an important document or assignment instructions have been updated.
  • Create shared drives in Google to give teams or small groups a common set of documents to edit or create--be sure to set the permissions appropriately (the collaborator role means they can create and edit but can't delete, the editor role means create, edit, and delete).
  • Create video recordings using Panopto. Then embed the videos in the Content tool in myCourses.

Moderating a Discussion or Small Group Work

In a blended classroom

  • Use Slack or the chat tool in Zoom to facilitate conversation in the physically distanced classroom (avoid students using the audio portion of Zoom in the physically distanced classroom as there may be audio feedback issues).
  • Create shared drives in Google Drive to distribute materials to teams and to collect that same material.
  • Create a Google Jamboard as a digital collaborative space for discussion groups or to host small group work.

In the asynchronous part of the class

  • Use the Groups tool in myCourses to sort students automatically into groups. They can then have a group discussion board and a group assignment submission.
  • Create a discussion board, include a discussion prompt and post a set of expectations for what you hope to see in a strong discussion initial post and response.
  • Have groups create a study guide or aggregate resources on a topic within a shared Google doc or using the Confluence wiki tool.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

  • Grading and specific feedback about student grades should happen within the Grades tool in myCourses.
  • To align with classroom safety guidelines, consider how to use the Assignment tool in myCourses to collect digital work from students rather than the paper you might normally collect in class.
  • With the most recent myCourses update, provide feedback to a student on their assignment using the Annotations tool.
  • Create ungraded or low-stakes "check your understanding" quizzes that include questions with automatic feedback. These can be used to reinforce learning and clarify misunderstandings. For information on using the Quiz tool in a way that promotes academic integrity, read Buidling Academic Integrity into Your Course.
  • Use Qualtrics, the Discussion tool in myCourses, Slack, or a shared Google Drive to conduct Classroom Assessment Techniques--opportunities to gather informal feedback on student learning. You can find out more about CATs at these links:
  • About three to five weeks into the semester, conduct an anonymous survey in Qualtrics to get student feedback on how the course is going. You might ask students to tell you what is helping them learn, what is not helping them learn, and what suggestions they may have. Provide students with an overview of their feedback. Explain what suggestions you can and cannot implement and why.

Tools Mentioned in This Post

Google Apps


RIT wiki







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